After months of planning with Het Domein, our host museum and gallery, Andrew Brooks and I finally arrived in the southernmost province of the Netherlands yesterday to start the latest Secret Cities project in Sittard-Geleen and Born (the use of the somewhat unwieldy term I’ll try to make plain shortly).
The city sits in the narrowest stretch of the country where the Belgian and German borders close to less than four miles apart, only separated by the city itself - making for a complex identity of historical border shifts, a dialect which stands apart from those “under the river” folk from Den Haag, Rotterdam and Amsterdam and a fierce regional pride in Limburg.
We’ll be working with residents, historians, and the custodians of those spaces behind the scenes here throughout June, July and August to open a new exhibition revealing 15 large scale public photographic works as well as a gallery exhibition on the 23rd August. As ever we aim to explore how those spaces and stories hidden, forgotten and ignored in the day-to-day rush of life tell and create the ongoing story of place and person with Andrew creating spectacular artworks influenced by the people and places we encounter.
A challenging undertaking in a place not only accustomed to defining itself as distinct from the nation state under which it sits, but also one where the citizens from each town that make up the triple-hearted city are equally accustomed to defining themselves as distinct from one another – even though they're now officially recognised as residents of one city following the sometimes uneasy three-way marriage that saw the three towns amalgamated into the single gemeente of Sittard-Geleen (city authority) in 2001.
We'll be trying to post updates here regularly during each shoot (as well as on facebook and twitter @curatedplace/@andrewpbrooks) and would love it if anyone that knows of anything about the spaces we visit gets in touch - no matter how unusual.