‘Saudade’ translates roughly as: ‘a yearning for something you have never known’. This project was essentially about stimulating the imaginations of the brand new inhabitants of this Vinex housing development. All sorts of things can be envisaged in the unfinished landscape of a huge building site such as that in Houten-Zuid. You can actively imagine your own house springing from the newly laid foundations, or you can, for example, transform the distant heaps of sand and rubble if you approach them in an adventurous state of mind - squinting your eyes so that they become a horizon of remote mountains. Streetlamps which at first glance may appear broken and seem to be in the wrong spot, suddenly switch on as you pass them by, turning your evening stroll into a kind of illuminated street theatre. The halted construction work on a Turkish bathhouse seems, on further inspection, to offer marvellous possibilities for a market, or even an open air cinema. A billboard becomes a façade, piles of building sand become dunes, streetlights illuminate worn pathways, and asphalt which at first glance seems to have been randomly dumped, slowly metamorphoses into boulders. Behind them, a spot lamp which has gone astray produces a permanent sunrise.
This art project in the district of Houten-Zuid encompasses five works of art and a marketing campaign. It came into being in collaboration with Sjaak Langenberg and Krijn Christiaansen, and was commissioned by Houten district council.
To date four of the five works of art have been executed. The Hamam (Turkish Bathhouse), The Dunes of Houten, Temporary Light and Saudade Turnoff have been completed and are working well in the neighbourhood, especially because most of the works involve unexpected uses. The execution of the work Morgenstimmung (Endless sunrise) is still to come.
In October 2007 the book ‘Saudade, the birth of a neighbourhood’ was published. This book is an important constituent of the campaign thought up by Bureau Artmiks for Saudade. The works of art in Houten are partially based on photos which the new inhabitants made of their prospective homes. As part of the campaign, people were invited – via flyers, posters and radio commercials – to send their photos of the neighbourhood under construction to the website www.saudade.nu so that a photo album of the ‘newborn’ could be compiled. The intention was to enable the makers of these photographs to re-observe the neighbourhood as it were through the eyes of the artists. Photos of these brand-new home-owners wearing their Wellington boots in the mud of a desolate building site, instantly transform into snapshots of an afternoons stroll along the mudflats. Iron matting awaiting submersion in a reinforced concrete foundation becomes the cage of a pet hamster, and a sinking sun merging with wasteland and mist prove the ideal ingredients for an enchanting, if temporary vista.
Photo-columnist Hans Aarsman wrote of the ‘newborn photo book’: ‘I have not seen a more exceptional book of photographs this year.’
To order the book you can send an email here to Artmiks. ‘Saudade, the birth of a neighbourhood’, published in a limited first edition of 750 and costing € 15,- excluding post and packaging.