In Zaartpark Breda you can find a demarcated piece of land with a surface area of 49m2, where the municipality of Breda will no longer carry out maintenance for the next 20 years. According to the agreement concluded with artist Gerrit-Jan Smit, anyone can intervene within these 7 x 7 meters, except the local government. For the summer residency, artist Penelope Cain was invited to observe the area. This observation is written by Penelope, and is accompanied by the article that Maja Irene Bolier wrote.
“On a long and mild summer day we raised the flags for the Kingdom of the Moles.
A flag in each corner of the 49m2. Four is a grounding number; one for each corner of the square, for each direction of the compass, one for the four elements.
With human formality, we raised the flags attached to forest poles and they waved gently in the wind; for a brief moment there was indeed a demarked Kingdom for the Moles.
This was intentionally a playful and speculative gesture, to consider in a lighthearted fashion whether animals and indeed, nature, could be given legal rights of land. Traditionally, nature has been subject to a Euro-centric legal regime of property-based ownership, and any rights for nature are systematically overruled by human demands empowered by human laws. However, last month a river in Brazil was granted personhood status, following in the watery footsteps of the Whanganui river in New Zealand, first granted ‘environmental personhood’ in 2017, and before that, Ecuador’s adoption of the rights of Mother Earth- Pachamama– into the national constitution. Our legal systems are so human centric that it appears the only way to equalise the power imbalance between humans and nature is circuitously issue ‘personhood’ statuses to nature to ensure that with legal status comes power to stand up against damage.
In 2011 representatives for the Vilcabamba River in Ecuador took a developer to court to repair damaging road construction over its banks. The river won in court but the developer wasnt ever forced to undertake the damage and pollution remediation; so there is still some way to go.
The flags for the Kingdom of the Moles were heavily vandalised the week after they were raised- all four poles and flags were pulled out with force and thrown into the nearby pond. The Kingdom of the Moles was destroyed. And it wasn’t the action of the moles.”
The Kingdom from Above (the Land)
The Kingdom (trial set-up)
Installing the Flags
The Kingdom (from a distance)
The Fallen Flags