Vrij Merijn


Merijn Vrij | Arte Laguna PrizeMerijn Vrij
Brielle, Netherlands 1971

OOGST // ‘Harvest’ / intensive agriculture

Art section: Land Art

Year: 2022

Materials:Readymade: bales of hay from the Fryslan region

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‘Harvest’ / intensive agriculture / artist-researcher at Museum Belvédère

As part of the ‘Stroomopwaarts’ project, artist research into the history and development of the landscape in Southeast Fryslân.

Where once plenty of peat was extracted, an agricultural cattle breeding area was created in the last century. My question was whether the current intensive agriculture will have the same effect on the landscape as the exhausting peat excavations at the time. And whether the bales of ryegrass will be on display in museums, just like blocks of historical peat, as a reminder of what once was.

The ambitious plan to extend the museum building with a stack of 600 hay bales could only be realized in model form in the context of ‘Stroomopwaarts’. The stacking of harvested grass on the spot where the museum hopes to expand one day would be an exhibition and an exhibition space at the same time.

Instead of stacking 600 bales, nine bales are placed on the north side of the building and nine on the south side, as a rhythmic dotted line, and one solitary bale in the museum. The row of 18 bales outside the museum refers to the way in which man shapes, divides and arranges the landscape to his will. Within the context of the exhibition, the bale takes the position of ‘ready made’ – an alienating object, which raises questions about form and content.

The project was exhibited from May to September 2022 in and around Museum Belvédère.


Artbook ‘Oogst/Balen’ This publication is the result of 1 month artist research at this region and shows the process and results of this project. https://issuu.com/merijnvrij/docs/mvrij_mb_oogst2

Films On my youtube and Instagram you see several short movies. This short film is about the rolling in of the hay bale. Ultimately, it stands in a museum room between paintings. Almost immediately, the public comes to inspect what this sculpture is made of. ‘Is it glazed ceramics?’, a visitor wonders.

Nitrogen-discussions makes the project very topical The work outside raises a lot of discussion and questions. Of course one wonders whether this is art or whether it is here by chance. Shortly after the opening of this project, a huge battle ensued between the farmers and the government. The farmer is held partly responsible for the enormous nitrogen emissions and many measures are announced. There are grumbling protests all over the Netherlands. This makes the work and this research very topical. In the booklet (ISSUU) you see on one of the last pages the agricultural area next to De Deelen (the old peat extraction area). The bales in this photo may well have been the last harvest of this farmer. Farming near a high-quality nature reserve is prohibited in the Netherlands …