Art interventions in a wadi landscape


The municipality of Nijmegen commissioned me for a series of art interventions in a public wadi landscape. The series draws on ideas from my solo exhibition ·r·e·s·p·o·n·g·e· (De Fabriek Eindhoven, 2022) but in a public space context – and in collaboration with, among others, De Urbanisten, office for urban design and landscape architecture, based in Rotterdam. For these interventions I declared the whole area a sponge, including those who live in and use the space; the sponge as metaphor intends to help us rethink our relationship with water that can change our behavior in light of climate change.

My first design – a grate for the rainwater drainage system – has been approved and produced, and is currently being installed throughout three streets in Hart van de Waalsprong, north of Nijmegen. This grate is a prelude to several artistic interventions, all inspired by spongy beings. Through their porosity, sponges represent processes of regenerating, filtering and retaining water as well as letting water flow, sponges inspire us to coexist with water bodies in many ways.

I am grateful to be working on this project in 2023 and 2024 and to see how people are embracing the concept of the sponge. Moreover, I am thrilled to witness how the sponges are multiplying.

·L·e·a·k·y··W·a·l·k· at IKOB Museum (BE)


·L·e·a·k·y··W·a·l·k· (2023) was part of Performing Landscapes festival at IKOB Museum für Zeitgenössische Kunst in Eupen (BE) on the 2nd of September 2023. For this edition of the work, I combined several instalments into an unfolding durational experience.
1. On display in the museum’s spaces were microbe costumes and small porous bags, made of fermented naturally dyed canvasses. The bags were filled with marl and gravel from the Kunrader and Sibber quarries, river sludge from the river Waal, birdseeds, fossils, sponges, flint, and tagetes from my work The Blue Carpet. Inserted into the bags was a text by poet and curator Roy Voragen, collectively read in the space to mark the start of the walk.
2. The performative walk led participants in a single line from inside the white cube to outdoor space. Walking bodies, carrying bags, were leaking traces of the residue collected during my Performing Landscapes residency. Returning soil, seeds and sponges to the landscape while walking brings awareness to the imprint our physical presence leaves – ephemeral or permanent, we modify while we move.
3. The walk arrived at a 1.90m deep hole, dug in the field, leaking scents of moisty soil. Participants were invited to vertically enter the earth in a Macrobe: a microbe costume made of decomposed cotton. The fabric, dyed by me with plants that I had cultivated before, had been buried in the garden of residency host Greylight Projects for five months. Once unearthed, I used the fermented fabric to sew the microbe costumes and leaky bags.
Many thanks to fellow diggers Lizzie Veldkamp and Karlijn van den Broek.

·L·e·a·k·y··W·a·l·k· at Cultura Nova


·L·e·a·k·y··W·a·l·k·, during international visual theater festival Cultura Nova and my Greylight Projects residency, continued traces of past walks and other artistic experiences by letting these leak onto the streets and paths of Heerlen and its vicinity and into the memories and stories of the participants.

For this walk, I sewed 16 small leaky bags out of self-dyed canvases and fermented canvases. At the start of my residency, March 2023, I dug a one-meter-deep hole into the soil in the garden of Greylight Projects and I buried a canvas in this hole for five months. After these five months, the canvas was decomposed by snails, spiders, centipedes, beetles and other soil animals: resulting in a canvas with stains and holes of different sizes.

A year prior to this walk I cultivated a piece of land with exactly the same size and dimensions of my studio. I sowed tagetes and woad, plants which can produce dyes. I am interested in shifting perspectives through perception. With the field as a temporary studio, I investigate such shifts by working the soil and processing plants to create dyes. The dyes were used to color canvases and the dried flowers were taken to my Greylight Projects studio and became a ·L·e·a·k·y··W·a·l·k· ingredient.

Other ingredients to fill-up the porous bags were soil from Kunrader and Sibber quarries, soil from the Greylight Projects garden, river sludge from the river Waal, tagetes, birdseed and limestone. Small heaps of these ingredients were placed around my studio for participants so that they could fill the leaky bags.

In response to ·L·e·a·k·y··W·a·l·k·, poet and curator Roy Voragen wrote a meandering text, which was inserted into the bags.

We left the premises of Greylight Projects and walked in a single line and each of us carried a leaky bag to leak ingredients, and collectively we created traces along the way, traces that could become, over time, something else. We returned the same way as we came so we could witness the traces we had been creating.

On return to Greylight Projects we exchanged thoughts, reflections and questions while enjoying coffee, tea and pastry.

crumbs, in collaboration with Roy Voragen


Crumbs is a collaboration between Isolde and Roy at Kunsthaus NRW Kornelimünster (Aachen), Germany. For this collab we showed 23 sponge cakes on ceramic plates, the publication crumbs, and a curated suitcase filled with publications from & about Southeast Asia. The Curated Suitcase creates an itinerant space to attempt to understand the many ways we read, write and share. The crumbs publication is handmade and stitched together, and consists of my drawings of crumbs and a meandering text by Roy which brings together a pandan sponge cake recipe (in Indonesian) and personal reflections on food and memory. 

Stacey Aleimo writes: ¨Perhaps the most palpable trans-corporeal substance is food, since eating transforms plants and animals in human flesh.¨

With this form of collaboration, we consciously aim to create a spongy ground for a porous, shared presence.

A booklet can be downloaded here as a PDF:

The recipe of the pandan sponge cake:

Photo 7,9,12,13: Javier Klaus Gastelum



The exhibition ·r·e·s·p·o·n·g·e· in De Fabriek Eindhoven reveals the interwoven nature of my walking performances, my Indonesian heritage and my artistic working methods, which are rooted in ecological thinking and making. ·r·e·s·p·o·n·g·e· refers to my fascination with sponges (the animals) and the sponge-like quality in ourselves.

In preparation for the exhibition, I moved my studio outdoors and cultivated a parcel of land of the same size and dimensions as my studio. Working the land, paying attention to the earth and the relationship between humans and other entities: I see these activities as an ecological extension of my artistic practice and those of others.

This exhibition resulted from a residency at De Fabriek, the residency and exhibition offered me time and space to think about the connections between my works I have produced over the years.

·r·e·s·p·o·n·g·e· hand-out
graphic design: Peter van den Hoogen
essay: Marlies van Hak
translation: Jonathan Beaton
A platform to sponge by Erik Benjamins

biru, a walk without a score Roy Voragen
Het leven als spons in De Fabriek Frits Dycks
The blue carpet Zonnejard

residency De Fabriek Thijs van Gasteren

sound art:
·r·e·s·p·o·n·g·e· Herman van den Muijsenberg



On the Grootstal Estate on the outskirts of Nijmegen, I’m working a piece of land the size of my studio, with exactly the same dimensions. As part of my research into natural, colour-fast dyeing methods, I’m sowing marigolds and woad: flowers that appear yellow to human eyes but are perceived as ultraviolet blue by insects. By the end of the summer, the flowers and thus the dyes will be ready to harvest. Through the dyeing process, the yellow woad produces a bright blue colour. As an artist, I’m interested in the shift of perspective through perception. With the field as my temporary studio, I investigate this shift by working the soil and processing plants to create dyes. THE BLUE CARPET is being developed in the run-up to my solo exhibition ·r·e·s·p·o·n·g·e· at De Fabriek, an artists’ initiative in Eindhoven (September 2022).
Thank you: Kien van Hövell tot Westerflier, Landgoed Grootstal, Wouter Engelbart (fellow gardener) & Zonnejard (planting advice).



The work MACROBES consists of costumes in the form of microbes, except two metres long. The costumes are dyed using plant-based indigo dye and the Indonesian batik (wax-resist) method. It’s possible fold them up in a travel bag so that you can go on a walk, then unfold them and get inside wherever you please. MACROBES invites us to better appreciate our entanglement with these companions.

It’s not surprising that we take our body shape and size as a starting point for our perception – it’s our main point of reference. We form theories that suit us, that we can embody. But what if this person-in-the-world perspective is an interpretation that has holes in it? We often see ourselves as a self-contained entity, an individual. But we are walking assemblages of speakers at the micro and macro level. We are intermediate beings, symbionts, living together with all kinds of other entities.

MACROBES was created in collaboration with Wouter Engelbart | Platform DIS & cutter Maya Berkhof.



TRAVELLER is an object with an inbuilt mechanism that launches balls of paper. The work, which is sometimes placed in the landscape and sometimes in an exhibition space, catapults scrunched up paper balls that the viewer can catch and unfold. The balled-up sheets of paper contain instructions for short actions intended to activate the senses and set the body and mind in motion. Words are literally cast into the air, like spoken sentences. These simple prompts act as poetic proposals for alternative scenarios that are brought to fruition in the moment. They invite the participant to act: activate, anticipate, catch, comprehend.

With special thanks to electro-mechanical designers: Jos Scholtes (first version) & Jelle Andriesse (second version)



PATHFINDER consists of ten silkscreen cards with walking instructions. The texts on the cards direct the walker’s senses in various ways – either by questioning or by guiding in a welcoming manner. The instructions evoke a brief action or movement of thought, which activates the senses and sets body and mind in motion. This leads to walks that offer new opportunities for relationships and connections between the visitor and her environment. The straightforward instructions function as poetic suggestions for alternative scenarios that can be put into practice. They invite the participant to act: to become active, anticipate, entwine, re-situate. By walking slightly differently, self-evidences are put into question and alternative possibilities explored. The walks “de-filter” looking and extend it with other ways of perception.

PATHFINDER is about sensory experiencing variations to obvious points of view and positions – and about the pleasure of discovery. The walking instructions are inspired by a reciprocal relation between text and site. Isolde’s renewed interest in her Indonesian family history made her rethink relations between body and place and the influence of language on perception.

Thanks to: Marlies van Hak (text editing), Jonathan Beaton (translation), Wouter Engelbart (support), Plaatsmaken (screen printing), Alice Smits (curator) Zone2Source Amsterdam



The work OBSERVER took shape while I was fundamentally thinking about our way of perceiving and the difference between perceptions when standing and lying down. OBSERVER consists of round canvas rugs with a diameter of about eight meters and some small, round cutouts.  Lying on your stomach, you can look through a round hole and perhaps see grass and insects, for example. Lying on your back, you can see the vast sky, with a bird or a plane here and there. By taking a walk through the landscape and witness the aesthetic characteristics of the rug’s presence in that location. In all cases it is never only the designed material aspect of the work that matters, it is how this materiality interrelates with participants and the environment.
OBSERVER reveals connections between micro- and macro-perceptions when the viewer rolls over and changes position. With our body in a horizontal position, we perceive different elements.



The work TRACK, created for Biennale Gelderland, consists of a series of ceramic objects that together form an installation and, like a walking trail, connect three streets in Arnhem. The objects are made of ceramics of different shapes and sizes and are bright yellow in colour. Some of the objects bear an inscription, giving instructions for a short mental or physical walk. These instructions are inspired by collected ideas (from real-life conversations, literature, philosophy, scientific research) about plants, microorganisms and trees.

With TRACK I also wanted to stretch the idea of sculpture in public urban space, by involving private spaces and people. The ceramic objects are placed on walls and strips in front and behind residential buildings and shop windows. The route came about through contact with residents and shopkeepers, who placed an object behind their window, in the shop window or on the facade. Some residents and shopkeepers designed an object of ceramics themselves, for example the baker who made a breadboard and a resident who designed a house cat. These objects are all included in the walk. Within the context of TRACK, I indirectly raise the question of whether the presence of the artist, in a performative work that moreover has walking as its medium, is necessary or desirable.


2018 & 2021

I SUPPORT YOU – YOU SUPPORT ME is a linguistic and performative gesture. It consists of a black and white knitted scarf with text on both sides. The scarf supports the person carrying it, while at the same time speaks to its surroundings. In multiple directions, relations appear between various entities that encounter each other.

For the exhibition SUPPORT SPACE, fifty scarves went on a journey. Sealed in self-made, sewn-shut envelopes, they were delivered by racing bike or by post to destinations in the Netherlands and beyond. Those who order a scarf become first receiver, then giver. Because you can’t reserve the scarf for yourself; the intention is to pass it onto someone you want to show support. The personal delivery of the scarf turns out to be valuable gesture. For many givers, the scarf is what leads them to reach out to the recipient – they usually haven’t seen each other in a while. In this way, the scarf is a way of experiencing togetherness in times of COVID-19.

As an artist I remain at a distance in this process, so as not to stand in the way of the scarf’s intimate handover. My request to the giver was to send me a photo of the handover; to document scarf’s journey. I have received many photos and personal stories from givers and receivers in all manner of unique locations. Reasons why people want to support the person in question and messages from givers, who have seen how much impact the gift has had on the receiver. Deep conversations therefore unfold between the giver and the receiver, as well as between the giver and the artist. For me this signifies a new, profound kind of relationship to those who experience my artworks. Normally, these people come to an exhibition. Now, the artwork comes, quite literally, to their post box, home and life.



TEXT PLATES is the continuation of a long-term artistic experiment with ceramics and text, as part of my performative work in the public space. Instructions on the plates, in the form of short sentences, invite passers-by to walk and perform actions in the location where they find themselves. For the instructions, I draw inspiration from people’s ideas – drawn from conversations, literature, philosophy, scientific research – about feminism, plants, trees and microorganisms. I further developed the text plates, which previously served as viewing tools in the walking work TRACK (2019), during my residency at Sundaymorning@ekwc, from January to March 2021. During this period, I experimented with a variety of clays, carried out tests with CNC milling machines and drills, compiled a range of coloured clays and tried out new glaze recipes.



Every day we traverse paths, bridges and roads. We stop for cars, we cross a zebra crossing: we catch up, overtake, read, breathe. The road sets the rhythm. To what extent does our spatial environment influence not only our movement, but also our thinking and feeling? For VERSED PATHS, commissioned by Perdu Amsterdam, we investigated in groups both our mental and embodied experience while walking. For this lecture-performance, I took people out into the public space of Amsterdam, led by textual instructions that we carried out collectively. Everyday life, unscripted coincidences and new possibilities in perhaps overfamiliar situations all became part of the work. VERSED PATHS consisted of two exercises: precise walking and the placing of texts in the environment. During the ‘precise walking’ exercise, we stopped at places where one would not normally be inclined to stop: along the edges of footpaths, against walls, standing exactly one metre apart, at moments in time that deviated from the everyday rhythm of the city. We walked single-file through an unexpected street party, where life suddenly entered the work. When placing the texts, which were written on sticky notes, we worked in groups of four. On each note was a quote. The person designated as the ‘sticker’ would choose a place in the public space to place the specific quote, which in this way entered into dialogue with its surroundings. The last reader would then take over and become the sticker. Agency shifted constantly during this walking exercise between sticker and reader, quote and space.



Researcher and writer Marlies van Hak invited me to work as ‘critical friend’ on an educational program at the Radboud Honours Academy Nijmegen. This interdisciplinary Science meets Art Honourslab was coordinated by culture coordinator & lecturer Martijn Stevens. It consisted of a series of workshops and discussions at cultural venues. As ‘critical friends’ we reflected on embodied learning, educational tracks and entanglement of artistic and theoretical domains. The collaboration with Radboud University, participating students and Marlies van Hak gave new insights in collaborating, conversing and reflecting on educational processes. We proposed several interventions and curated a closing event through a performative exercise and discussion for the Honourslab community.



During THE DRIVE OF WALKING, a master class organised by Hubert van Eyck Academy Maastricht, I gained valuable insights about walking as artistic practice. I met fellow makers who also consider the meaning of walking for their artistic work. We experimented with ideas related to walking, produced a collaborative publication of walking scripts, and investigated the importance of the immediate experience.



Meeting landscapes from an artistic and philosophical perspective through on-site encounters is the main focus of Buro Ruimte Rondom. At a time when digitization becomes increasingly dominant, we feel it is relevant to offer alternative ways of meeting people and matter. We obviously relate to our environment, such as the city in which we live or the forest where we take walks. But how can we build sustainable and equally valuable connections? What we encounter on a small scale at a set moment, will possibly provide an entry to examining and reinventing larger contexts. By exploring local phenomena and personal testimonies, by being present and engaging in dialogue, by collectively experiencing apparently hidden structures, we seek to give voice to the human and non-human that cannot always speak for itself. That is, not in words.

Concept: Marlies van Hak & Isolde Venrooy
and amongst others Anne Vegter, Martin Drenthen, Esther Kokmeijer, Maïté Tjon A Hie, Deep End Film, Architecture Center Nijmegen, Jan Van Eyck Academy Maastricht, Radboud University Nijmegen



The work (RE)COVERED consists of medals wrapped and sewed in soft, black felt. The medals are trophies from completed hikes. Each of the medals in (RE)COVERED was once awarded to a person to commemorate an event in their life. The collection of medals visualises a collective (support) system, in which it is not the individual but the shared achievement that is paramount. The awarding of the medal is a means of giving concentrated attention to a specific experience at a given moment in time. By disguising several such mementos and presenting them collectively as an installation, the work alludes to shared time, memory and attention.



The book Discovery of the Well-known guides the reader through several enlargements of my paintings from the serie Typology of an ideal landscape. From a detail to the whole and back. Just as it is required to observe the paintings closer and step away from them in order to experience the work.

Photography 4/5 inch slide film:
Antje Peters
Photography exhibitions:
Jan Adriaans
Margriet Kemper
Rob van Hoesel
The Eriskay Connection

The publication is available on The Eriskay Connection



TYPOLOGY OF AN IDEAL LANDSCAPE is a series of paintings, each 160 cm wide and 120 cm high. Paper cut-outs from travel brochures are arranged on canvas. These fragments of, for example, palm trees, parasols and skiers, are (partly) painted over with monochrome acrylic paint, thus reconnecting the disparate elements. The layers of paint conceal the original landscape and at the same time create a new one. Working with paint in this way is an artisanal, slow and meticulous process. The landscape created by the overpainting is like falling snow, or like seawater, earth or sky. A common flow of time is created as elements are brought together. In the publication Discovery of the Well-Known (2013), Margriet Kemper writes about the skiers cut out from brochures: “We don’t see individuals anymore, but tiny bodies with which we still share just enough to know that we are one of them.”
A new series of panels in this series is pieced together from fragments of images of rural elements from the former Dutch East Indies, where part of my family history lies. I arranged these typologies, of sugar palms, coffee and tobacco plants, on the canvas before reconnecting them with paint. The paintings and their concealing or revealing representations refer to idyllic facades – from both colonial and present times – behind which devastating social, rural and cultural monocultures are hidden.



NOTHING COMES FROM NOTHING is a series of paintings that focus on the embodied experience of works of art. Paper cut-outs on canvases, almost white or almost black, demand a highly observant approach from the viewer. Only by being physically present in front of the canvas and looking attentively can one’s eyes distinguish the subtle differences in colour and pattern. A quick glance does not reveal the full range of tonalities. You have to keep moving and rethinking your approach to the work. Gradations in colour, nuances in form: materiality is clearly important here, as in the previous series TYPOLOGY OF AN IDEAL LANDSCAPE. Recognisable representations disappear, but what remains is the act of collage – the bringing together of paper cuttings into abstracted representations with titles such as TO EVERY THING THERE IS A SEASON; THE CLOSER THINGS GET TO NON-EXISTENCE; THINGS DEVOLVING TOWARD, OR EVOLVING FROM, NOTHINGNESS. There is no clear position from which to view the picture as a whole. In the publication Discovery of the Well-Known (2013), Margriet Kemper writes: “There is no breadth and no height; source and mountain are united by […] the white of the snow, the off-white of the sand and the black of the night.” The different shades of white, for example, make each other visible – they work together. They invite you to seek out nuance and the context of the painting. The work thus alludes to support, a theme that recurs in multiple works of mine, such as I SUPPORT YOU – YOU SUPPORT ME.



EXPEDITIE NOORD (‘NORTH EXPEDITION’) is a collective walk through a riverside landscape, commissioned by Festival De Oversteek. During this walk, we used viewing tools to elicit interaction between the human body, the environment and fellow walkers. During three walking exercises at different locations near the river Waal in Nijmegen, participants explored my latest viewing tools. A series of text cards with quotes invited the viewer to look at the landscape in a different way and to discuss it with a fellow walker using the words on the card. Portable mirrors of different sizes were attached to clothing and shoes to provide an unexpected, tilted and expanded perspective on the surroundings, one’s own body and other bodies. A large blue sheet, with round holes, encouraged participants to experiment with scale on a micro and macro level. Zooming in on a small part of the environment, lying on the ground looking at the earth, and zooming out to take in the vast space around you when you turn over on your back: this sheet was the first version of the work OBSERVER (2018-2019). For each experiment with a viewing tool, I chose a different place and backdrop in the landscape around the urban island on the river Waal, so that we could trace a route along the river while walking.



My artistic approach is fueled through extensive interdisciplinary artistic multidisciplinary projects in which art&design, music and theatre students work together for a week at various locations in The Netherlands. The participants are accompanied by seven artists or designers.

Participating artists: Maarten Bel, Daan Couzijn, Maureen Ghazal, André Pielage, Jozee Brouwer, Joost Conijn, Melanie Corre, Designarbeid, Annegien van Doorn, Stijn van Dorpe, Dirk van Lieshout, Afra Eisma, Domenique Himmelsbach de Vries. Wessel Verrijt, Roland van Dierendonck, Boey Wang, Anaïs López, Jake Caleb, Wapke Feenstra, Maartje Folkeringa, Onsia Goemans, Willem de Haan, Paoletta Holst, Pavel van Houten, TINKEBELL, Michiel Huijben, Misja Immink, Eline Janssen, Esther Kokmeijer, Bastiaan Kwast, Lotte Landman, Charl Landvreugd, Tom Loois, Robert van Middendorp, Jack van Mildert, Wineke van Muiswinkel, PIPS:Lab, Peter Taylor, Tonio de Roover, Wouter Venema, Bart van de Woestijne, Mat Wijn.

METAMORFOSE (2021), PREPPEN (2020), BODYBUILDING (2019), PLANTEN (2018), DROPPING (2017), WALKING (2016), ITHAKA (2015). 



BUREAU BUURTREIZEN is a travel agency where children share stories, design maps and organize tours through their own neighborhood. Commissioned by De Nieuwe Veste, KOP and Stedelijk Museum Breda.



The Archive of Absence tells of the phenomenon of present absence. It imagines the presence of that which is not there at first glance. An important aspect of the Archive of Absence are expeditions – walks through inside and outside spaces. On these expeditions, I discuss the presence of absence, looking at objects, plants and terminology. The presence of a camouflage net hanging over a shed leads to the discussion of stealth technologies that allow vehicles to move through space while being absent on radar. Throughout these (physical and mental) wanderings the emphasis is placed on sensory observations coupled with associations, stories and visual works.



In CIJFERSHOP (‘NUMBER SHOP’), the various unique values of numbers are presented through audio fragments, texts and wooden shapes. Each number has its own character. CIJFERSHOP started in Zwaanshals, a street in Rotterdam, where I converted an exhibition space into a number shop that attracted local residents who would not normally visit an art gallery. The numbers, part of the ‘shop’ system, could be bought as objects. In a publication that came out in 2015, for which Wouter Engelbart wrote the texts, the numbers speak about their experiences. They explain their political engagement, criticise how society uses them and express the wish to be approached in a more personal way. Since then, CIJFERSHOP has been shown at VHDG in Leeuwarden, among other places. In addition to the publication, wooden figures, a script and audio clips have been developed. In the audio work, a real estate agent, an architect and a financial advisor talk about the role of numbers in their lives and work. A person with obsessive-compulsive disorder related to the number 3 also speaks.



Visitors makes themselves comfortable on a bed. Emanating from the pillow underneath their head is a sound composition. As in Soothing Sounds for Baby (Raymond Scott), one is transported to a sleepy dreamworld. The intention of the installation is to seduce people with the sounds of money, which are used as a mantra or lullaby.



CARDBOARD CARPETS’ consists of pieces of cardboard, a material which is commonly considered a waste material, stitched together in the form of carpets. The carpets are inspired by the practice of construction workers, who spread out empty cardboard boxes in order to protect floors while constructions take place.

One of my current works, THE BLUE CARPET (2022) is a collaborative effort between various entities, on a piece of land the size of my studio floor. On the field, I grow marigolds and woad: flowers that appear yellow to human eyes but are perceived as ultraviolet blue by insects. Transition and care are key to this shared artistic endeavor.