From the 21st of June 2023 until 22nd of September 2023, Penelope Cain is the Artist in Residence of the 49 square meters in the Zaartpark in Breda. The 49m2 project is a long-term research project into public space, set up by Gerrit-Jan Smit in collaboration with Witte Rook. Each working period is concluded with an article written by an external author and an observation by the artist themselves, published on the online platform of Witte Rook. You can also visit the venue of project 49m2 during the whole period at any time.
Penelope wrote about her plans for ‘The Kingdom’:
The Kingdom is a starting point to consider decentering humans from the 49m2 space. What if it became a kingdom for moles, or for a willow tree, or even for a ladybird? Would this kingdom have its own flag, or even multiple flags – in that way that flags are an all-so-human signal of territory, territorialisation, and claiming land? The nature of the 49 square meters through the contract with the municipality already gives a set of rules that govern how park gardeners and council employees can interact with the territory, and how it exists uniquely within the park. What if for a little bit of time there was a formalisation of this separation, of a kingdom within a kingdom?
About Penelope and her work:
Landscapes in their widest definition are central to her practice. In particular the colonised, extracted and transformed landscapes of the Anthropocene and the manifest marks of humans on the land. She works with scientists, scientific data sets and concepts, and uses video, digital interaction, flags, text and public participation in storytellings about the lands of the Anthropocene and post Carbon. Originally Penelope is from Sydney, but she moved with her family to The Hague in 2022.
July update by Penelope:
“In July I prototyped the first flag for the Kingdom, the first flag to mark the 49m2; with a plan of developing a row of flags, marking each corner of the territory. This flag, the first, is a flag for the moles, with a background of sky, a square of earth and a crown for a mole. The grass around the Kingdom of the 49m2 has grown some since the first scoping visit and the mole hills at the edges of the Kingdom are surrounded by grass. Trialling the flag on a mild summer day it seemed to work well in scale and site. It was the day after a code orange storm day, raising the question of the potential for wind destruction on flags left for any length of time.
While on site, I tried to imagine what a conversation with the moles of the Kingdom would be like, and if, from a speculative mole’s perspective, were there words for a sky and ground when you have virtually no sight. Maybe sky is a sound rather than a word. An uncontained and edgeless sound compared to the underground- a close and safe sound, with the noises of worms moving and the slow humming voices of treeroots’ telling year-long stories of winds in skies.”
Hidden in plain sight: The Kingdom of Moles.
Last Monday, September 4th 2023, it has become a fact: the flags of The Kingdom are planted. With this action, The Kingdom of Moles has been established by artist Penelope Cain at Zaartpark, Breda, the Netherlands. This Summer Penelope withstood the heat and the rain during her observing of the 7×7 square meters of the 49m2 project and the surrounding moles. Be welcome to visit The Kingdom until Sunday September 24th. After that, we will only have the stories to tell… and the pictures to share.