Fieldwork Station Living Harbour

On invitation by Ruigoord, as part of their 50th anniversary programme, the Embassy of the North Sea will present the multi-sensory Fieldwork Station Living Harbour from 23 June 2023. Especially for the exhibition Oasis of Wonder, the Embassy of the North Sea is investigating the relationship between Ruigoord and its opposite neighbour, the world’s largest petroleum port.

The research team consists of sound artist Harpo ‘t Hart, ecologist Maarten Erich and scent artist Frank Bloem.


At first glance, Ruigoord is a green oasis and the harbour it borders only an industrial area. But this division is not as sharp as it seems. As a port city, Amsterdam is directly connected to the world of (fossil) industry, trade and extractivism via the North Sea. But under water in the North Sea Canal, all sorts of creatures are alive. And there is life on and around the ships carrying coal and oil as well. Even in the smell of petrol, for instance, you can still smell the remains of plants; marine plants from the Mesozoic era. Green Leaf Volatile (GLV) are volatile organic compounds released when you rub a leaf between your fingers. When you close your eyes and think of a petrol pump, the smell of grass turns into that of petrol. So when we refuel, our nose makes contact with plants that lived 180 million years ago.


In our times when ‘pristine nature’ seems to be a thing of the past, we need to practice still connecting with our urban and industrial environment. With the port research, the North Sea Embassy aims to develop a sensitivity for all non-human voices and – however dirty and noisy – establish ecological relationships with the industrial landscape.


Fieldwork station Living Harbour

23 June – 31 December 2023

Ruigoord 76, Amsterdam

Photo’s: Siem Salaboem