Embassy of the North Sea in and around Oosterdok and Marineterrein, Amsterdam

Contributions by: Frank Bloem, Jesper Buursink, Axel Coumans, Antoin Deul, Maarten Erich, Xandra van der Eijk, Mirthe Frese, Harpo ’t Hart, Bram Joanknegt, Theun Karelse, Maarten Kleinhans, Darko Lagunas, Bruno Latour, Sheng-Wen Lo in collaboration with Yi-Fei Chen, Katja Philippart, Thijs de Zeeuw and the finalists of the design challenge Give a Voice to the North Sea.

Art, design, science and policy at NEMO’s de Studio, the Shooting range marineterrein and ARCAM

Between 20 and 27 November, the Oosterdock and Marineterrein in Amsterdam Centre will be a hive of activity. In a series of multimedia presentations at NEMO’s De Studio, the Shooting range at Marineterrein and the ARCAM Architecture centre you will be able to listen to, see, smell and feel the results of the field work by the Embassy of the North Sea.

The Embassy of the North Sea was established in 2018 to provide a voice to the North Sea and its residents. For centuries, we in the West have seen humans as the only actors on Earth. Today, however, the Earth is speaking back through forest fires, acidified oceans, pandemics and melting icecaps. Plants, animals and microbes help shape our world. Icebergs contribute to the formation of our coastline, insects determine the yield from our agricultural efforts and microbes determine our state of mind. In that sense, non-humans are also political actors. Nonetheless, human actors only feel accountable to one another and not to non-human life. For its part, the Embassy of the North Sea believes that herring gulls, porpoises, sandbars and fishermen are also entitled to take a seat at the political table. By 2030, the Netherlands should be capable of viewing the North Sea as a political player.

exhibition voices of the North Sea in nemo’s de studio

To be able to represent non-people, we must first learn to listen to them. We humans have a body, a head, ears, eyes, a sense of touch and a nose. But our sensory capacity and the reference framework needed to understand the sea and its inhabitants are very limited. To make up the shortfall, the Embassy of the North Sea is designing listening methods that create space for new forms of political representation.

At NEMO’s De Studio, between 20 and 27 November, find out all about the way in which the Embassy is carrying out its research work. Art, design, science and policy are all being jointly deployed to investigate and represent the depth, diversity and movements of the North Sea. Via measurements and sound recordings, team Underwater noise is producing a representation of the landscape of underwater noise. What is the impact of these anthropogenic noises on marine life? Within team Future of the Delta, we are speculating on future scenarios for the Oosterschelde, also taking account of the interests of non-human delta communities. The winning proposals from the student design challenge Give a Voice to the North Sea will be on display at the exhibition. The programme will also include walks, guided tours and discussion sessions for lay people and experts alike. We will be presenting an overview of the programme on this site, shortly.

More around the Oosterdok

Before or after your visit to the NEMO exhibition, take a stroll to the nearby Shooting range on the Marineterrein. The interactive installation F/eel by the Taiwanese artist Sheng-Wen Lo will bring you face to face with the experiences of the eel during its lifetime journey. On the opposite side of the Oosterdok, at the ARCAM Architecture Centre, you will be able to find out about more about the Voice for the Eel, as part of the EndLESS Amsterdam exhibition. Here, you will gain a better understanding of the underwater landscape and possible solutions and improvements, as seen from the perspective of the eel.

Welcome to the Parliament of Things 18-27 November

These activities are part of Welcome to the Parliament of Things, an event organised by the Embassy of the North Sea together with the International Spinozalens Foundation and many other partners. The background will be the presentation of the Spinozalens 2020 to the French philosopher and sociologist Bruno Latour by the mayor of Amsterdam Femke Halsema, on 24 November 2020 at the Felix Meritis House of Culture in Amsterdam. Latour’s ideas about the political representation of non-humans in a ‘parliament of things’ has been a source of inspiration for many and has given rise to a series of educational projects and public activities at among others the Radboud University in Nijmegen, Spui25, Filosofie in Den Haag and the Schrijversvakschool Groningen. Various secondary schools have taken part in the educational programme The Parliament in the Classroom, and a design challenge Give a Voice to the North Sea was organised for students.