Wind and water move the soil

2024| Soil from Utrecht (NL), Xuan paper, stainless steel, electric fan | Each installation: Diameter 65 cm x L 400 cm

Everything is connected in different ways. One link always pulls at another. Even when some connections are not obvious, we cannot assume their absence. I abstract concrete objects to explore the primal state of things, to create space for reflection. For example about how water connects to and influences other elements in our lives. Through my installation I try to reveal speculative connections between water, wind and soil. These three elements are crucial for existence, regardless of the diversity of cultural manifestations.


In October 2023 I stayed in Utrecht to investigate the social phenomena and developments focusing on the theme of water. I had previously seen images of Dutch windmills in prints but did not understand their significance. During a field trip I played a game that involved pumping water to higher levels by turning gears, which helped me understand the functioning and the importance of windmills in The Netherlands. Due to the flat, low-lying nature of the Dutch landscape, most windmills are used for drainage, helping to remove accumulated water.

At an antique book fair in Amsterdam, I came across many ancient maps, some dating back to the sixteenth century. I wondered how these old maps were made, so I visited the National Maritime Museum in Amsterdam to learn more about sea maps. With advances in navigation, each voyage from Europe to other continents yielded new data to be inscribed in prints and maps upon return. Large maritime expeditions indirectly influenced and contributed to the development of science. This was partly because traditional scientific methods were insufficient to describe and interpret the vast discoveries of the world. I also noted the work of Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717), a naturalist and scientific illustrator who traveled to Surinam in South America to observe insects and illustrate her findings.

WATER AND WIND: Ways of coexistence between humans and the environment, and the growth of human understanding of the world

Neither water nor wind has a fixed form that we can hold in our hands. The invisible wind is able to move the blades of windmills as well as the sails of ships. We notice the wind through the turning of the blades or the billowing of the sails. It drives the rotation of gears, with which water levels can be altered. I wished to capture the essence of wind and motion through an installation of three stainless steel components and Xuan paper. The steel parts contain spinning wheels. The breeze fans onto the Xuan paper, causing the whole object to rotate. The patterns on the Xuan paper are made of water and soil. The water, which acts as a binding and mobilizing agent, makes the soil adhere to the Xuan paper. I collect soil from nature, which I then dry and sift into a fine powder. When water is added to the soil, it moves within the confined space created by the water. Paper with soil placed on top of it dries as the water evaporates. In the resulting patterns, we can see traces of the gentle movement of the water.

In the exhibition, the wind continues to move the installation, causing the water-soil images to rotate incessantly. Even though this ‘mill’ extracts no actual water and does not propel a sailing vessel, the spinning motion of the Xuan paper hanging from the metal frames adds a sense of the fluidity of water returning.


This installation was exhibited in 2024 at AG - Ruimte voor nieuwe kunst en media | HKU, The Netherlands.