Deventer (NL), 1987
Tanja Engelberts’s practice investigates the often-destructive influence of human actions on the landscape. She has travelled to the tar sands in Canada and sailed to drilling platforms out at sea, talking to the people who live and work there. Her thorough preparation for these trips and meetings includes many emails and phone calls, research and conversations with people in industry and central governments. Afterwards she creates prints and photographs that capture the atmosphere and experience of these places.
In her current research she finds this relationship between human beings and landscape closer to home, on an artificial Dutch island. It is shaped like a ring dike and serves as a dumping ground for contaminated sludge from Dutch waters that contains toxic substances. For this research she is working for the first time with film, allowing her to explore the camouflage techniques that depict the island as an idyllic nature reserve, as well as the monotony of the actual making of islands and the dumping of dredged materials. The island is a vehicle for Engelberts to develop a speculative vision of the future in text and images, in which she, by thinking through geological time, wonders what happens to processes that people set in motion, but which have consequences that will manifest themselves long after our own deaths.