Skip to content

SRV #10: The Outsiders


SRV-Brandweerwagen Friesland

di, 02 jul. 2024 / zo, 28 jul. 2024

SRV #10: The Outsiders

This summer, VHDG celebrates the 10th anniversary of the SRV art program: A Traveling Studio on Wheels, where artists journey through the Frisian villages and nature with their art. Formerly an SRV truck, now a fire truck, this year’s tour is driven by the collective The Outsiders, consisting of Asia Komarova, Txell Blanco, and Merel Zwarts. With their project, The Travelling Farm Museum of Forgotten Skills, they will travel through Northwest Friesland from village to village during the months of July and September, exploring the Wadden Sea, the ancient Middelzee, and how this area has changed and developed over time. What stories have flowed and blown through this region? In September, a traveling exhibition will follow on a mound, in a village, or in the city.

The Travelling Farm Museum of Forgotten Skills

This project originated in the Leidsche Rijn district of Utrecht; once a vast agricultural area, it was transformed into a so-called VINEX neighborhood over the past 22 years. During this process of urban development, many stories, skills, and memories of the agricultural past were lost. With their traveling, participatory museum, The Outsiders listen to the history, landscape, and (im)material heritage by engaging in conversations with residents. In this way, they collect stories that they preserve in the museum. From Utrecht, the museum moved southward and settled in Maastricht for a year. Now, the museum is heading in the opposite direction: to Friesland!

The museum serves as an archive for objects, stories, knowledge, and—crucially—ecological relationships between farmers, citizens, artists, and non-human entities. Heritage and memory are utilized to collaborate and build upon what has come before, rather than only holding on to what has been lost. In this way, the museum acts as a school without walls, where communities come together and connect with the land in new ways.

With The Travelling Farm Museum of Forgotten Skills, The Outsiders explore how we position ourselves within a rapidly changing landscape and how we maintain relationships within this context. Through the creation of mobile installations, excursions, and alternative educational experiments, they invite farmers and residents from Utrecht, Maastricht, and now Friesland to map their relationship to local food cultures, agricultural practices, and forgotten skills. Will you join?

Land and Food

Intrigued by the Wadden Sea and the lost Middelzee, The Outsiders explore the influence of the sea, salt, and mud on soil quality and food cultures in the region. How do Frisian farmers, communities, and plants care for each other in a landscape that is always in transition? How has agriculture and life changed since the reclamation of the sea? What traces has the Middelzee left behind, and how can these be recognized in the contemporary landscape? What is the role of the potato in this area, and what does the potato have to tell us? During their traveling residency, they seek out skills and stories that are rooted in this land, its agricultural past, and its present; what can we learn from these for our future?

From Stories to Artworks

On July 2nd, the fire truck departs from Leeuwarden, traveling through Het Bildt to the Wadden Sea. The bus is transformed into a mobile post office, fostering dialogue and exchange in villages, with farmers, schools, food forests, local museums, and historical sites. The Outsiders draw on the forgotten skill of correspondence through letters. Inspired by anthropologist Tim Ingold’s perspective on letter-writing as a form of sustainable correspondence, they emphasize a mode of communication that doesn’t dissapear quickly or gets lost in the flow of digital traffic, but rather takes time and allows for thoughtful exchange.

Although letter-writing might seem like a relic of the past, for The Outsiders, it’s not about reverting to bygone days. Instead, it’s about letting the past find its way forward into the future. Writing letters involves both care and spontaneity—care in considering the recipient and choosing your words carefully, and spontaneity in receiving unexpected letters, irregular contacts, and surprising encounters. The challenge for The Outsiders is to reintroduce these qualities into our contemporary communication.

Together with you, the residents of Friesland, The Outsiders seek out stories that they, as artistic postmen, transform into shareable mail, letters, and parcels. These are collected into a sea of stories where the histories and current urgencies of Friesland are interwoven. Curious about existing stories and practices, they aim to develop new possible ways of engagement.

Traveling Exhibition

In the second half of September, the fire truck will travel through the same area again to present its findings. The traveling exhibition kicks off on September 14th at VHDG during “Uit en Huis,” travels through Northwest Friesland, and concludes at the Fries Museum during Museum Night on September 28th. Keep an eye on our website for the latest program updates.

Would you like to get in touch with The Outsiders?
Write a letter to:

The Outsiders
Ipe Brouwerssteeg 10A
8911 BZ Leeuwarden
Design: Niels Lunter

Report week 1:

“I still do everything by hand,” said the old farmer. He wore wooden clogs on his feet. With a weary look, he gazed at us. “Every year, I think about quitting. I’m already old. It’s time for the younger farmers to take over now.” We had just entered his barn. As we drove by, we noticed his roadside stall with various potatoes, neatly tucked under an old woolen blanket. “The first of this year,” the old farmer told us in his Frisian accent. We had just heard from Gauke in Slappe Terp that these are the tastiest. The former potato machine developer passionately shared with us stories about Frisian potato farming and the tough knip clay, the salt marshes, the mounds, and the Middelzee. Slappe Terp, a name likely derived from a “sleeping terp,” a mound that had lost its original function, is a small village where the campsite and tearoom of Gauke and Wimmy are located. That’s where we spent our night.

Every Frisian here seems to be intertwined with the landscape. Both the old farmer and Gauke are deeply connected to the land and its use, almost as if it’s second nature. They shared their stories with us openly.

Now, we continue our journey. For Wimmy, we are searching for other quiet oases in this landscape dominated by vastness and wind. Following Gauke’s tip, we plan to seek out and taste as many different types of potatoes as possible. Inspired by the old farmer, we’re now looking to find others who still farm potatoes by hand, or perhaps those who rely heavily on machinery—maybe even machines that Gauke had worked on.

With two bags of potatoes (Borger and Doré) in hand, we ended the day at the Zwarte Haan. After passing several dikes, we finally arrived at the last one, overlooking the Wadden Sea.’

On the road with the firetruck