Image and Text by Saksens Kalmane
The Park Behind My Backyard
Putting in spotlight Venserpark, a place where nature tells stories to those who listen, this project looks at the natural world and environment of an urban park area.
Surrounded by Amsterdam, one of the Netherland's busiest cities, lays Duivendrecht with its small local park area called Venserpark. From the day I moved into a house located right next to Venserpark, the park area became the extension of what I call home. For the last five years I have been fascinated by the everchanging yet seemingly always looking the same park environment, its biodiversity, animal world and the diverse calming sounds complimenting the mystical mood of the park.
About the Project
With influences as diverse as Ottomar Anschütz's bird movements, Charles Pratt's and Ansel Adams's landscapes and nature photography, as well as Jantien de Bruin's old forest pathways, Stephen Gill's mystical night animals and Malin Fabbri's anthotypes, this project represents a view of the networking, co-existence, collaboration and connectedness among the Venserpark's living organisms. The inspiration comes from such diverse sources as the ancient art of papermaking, animal sculptures of the nomadic tribes of th Eurasia, the 19 century park and garden landscape paintings, Irving Solomon Teibel’s soothing nature sounds, many literary works on nature (authors like Gilbert White and Suzanne Simard), as well as National Geographic nature and wildlife photography.
Every day hundreds of people pass through the park, but only A few take their time to connect with the flora and fauna of the small open space. The park's area is home to a variety of animals, plants and trees, and they all seem to be co-existing and collaborating in a harmonious way, following the natural cycle of life. The greenery is a world full of connections, offering the observer multiple interpretations of its identity that can be viewed, travelling through the concepts of time, temporality, repetition, rhythm, cycle and resilience.
Besides digital photographic images, the project includes also several other photographic approaches (such as film camera, hunt camera, DSLR pinhole cap, underwater camera, anthotype prints and a reverse lens on a DSLR camera for macro effects), providing much space for experimentation and alternative processes that in a way help to strengthen my own bond with the natural park environment, and slow down the process for having more time to connect with the urban park environment.
The project is also enriched by nature sounds that the Dutch sound engineer Joshua Krosenbrink captured in Venserpark at exact places where the photographic images were taken in the fall of 2021.
Although the trees, the plants and the birds don't have their own voice, they all have a story to tell. By actively involving the viewer's visual, auditory and tactile senses, a more complex engagement and perception of the topic is achieved, allowing the viewer to soak up bits and pieces of Venserpark's identity and puzzle together an overview of the park's hidden daily life.
Participation in an art exhibition
Images from the project 'The Park Behind My Backyard' are exhibited in the art work ehxibition of young Latvian artists in the Netherlands, organised by the Latvian Embassy in the Netherlands.
The exhibition takes place from March 28, 2022 until May 31, 2022 in the Latvian Embassy in the Netherlands, in the Hague.