Boerenzij - The Rural Side
Rotterdam South and TENT Rotterdam
October 2019


Boerenzij (The Rural Side) is a project in Rotterdam on rural migration. We are in the hundred year old habour area. We take the nickname of the south bank - Boerenzij - as a starting point. As still new rural migrants, skills and mindsets come in.


Wapke Feenstra
TENT Rotterdam
145 people that live or work in Rotterdam Zuid
TENT Rotterdam

The Boerenzij, situated around Maashaven and Rijnhaven, is moving away from the ‘urban periphery’ and becoming ‘part of the centre’. Densification and new buildings that overlook the port are bringing the centre ever-closer. High-rise flats with panoramic views are attracting newcomers, particularly young urban professionals. The Boerenzij is disappearing – part of it has gone already and the rural presence seems almost to have died out. But it is also a fact that there are still rural people come over to Rotterdam-Zuid, workers, refugees and students that come straight from the country. They (still) find cheap housing close to the new centre. And as centrifugation goes on, the south bank changes and will change drastically in the coming decades.

WHAT WE DO
Boerenzij presents a complex challenge because there are many times and places that have to be given a voice. There are participative and representative moments across the entire creative process, from intimate and private to patently public. The basis will be formed by all sorts of private rural worlds and neighbourhood observations at micro level, which will lead to the emergence of a more abstract image as a result of the angle of approach, the framing, and the chosen method of reporting. The activities focus on:
1. Neighbourhood and soil – all starts with the ground we can live on – so with the department BOOR (Archaeology in Rotterdam) we made an animation that talks about the layers of soil and the farming and living on the south bank. The fact that 25000 years ago this was a valley and that we are now facing a delta means lots of sediments. In a 4 minutes animation the BOERENZIJ goes from mammoths on dry soil to stone-age hills, peat, clay, polders, floods, harbours and building sand. Floods by the sea and by the river. As we are in a fruitful delta again floods are on the horizon.
2. Table Talks – we talk in my studio or at your table about memories, draw maps of our home-villages and exchange knowledge. We collect objects and talk about the use of it (sometimes in front of the camera).
3. Kale dinners (Boerenkool met Toppings) are gatherings in my studio or at host locations on the Southbank – we eat, read poets, sing harvest songs, make new poems, explain objects, do screenings and celebrate the fact that we are BOEREN (farmers).
4. Visits to farms, children-farms, community centres, care-homes, allotment gardens, harbour walks, and so on.
5. En plein air drawing sessions at Maashaven and Rijnhaven (the docks). With teachers or as a group. All are invited and some come along to make a contribution to the big panorama that shows in over 200 drawings how the harbour looks like in 2019.
6. Balcony scenes – artist were commissioned to make a drawing from the view of the private balconies of apartments and offices around Maashaven and Rijnhaven. 19 balconies were visited.
7. Exhibition and public screenings.