Application text for project in Heerlen, written in cooperation with Maurice Meewisse

Heerlen was formerly a city that served as a major producer of coal. Enormous amounts of energy were brought out of the ground with bare hands and shovels. Everyone in Heerlen worked in the mines and this work formed the basis of a large amount of social interaction. People from Heerlen had something to be proud of; they made the fuel with which the Netherlands was heated, from which steam was generated and ore was melted. But unfortunately, despite modernisation, the production gradually diminished in the late 1950's and the mining companies were defunct. Various attempts have been made to fill the void: DSM was established and the CBS moved to Heerlen, but none of this could fill the gap in society which the loss of mining industry had caused.

In the 1980's, the operation From Black to Green was started in Heerlen, transforming what was thought of by some as a dreary mining city with black mountains and desolate abandoned buildings into a city of green areas, a 'parkstad'. Even the old major landmarks, the tall mining chimneys, were demolished in this rigorous clean-up. This drastic transformation and deletion has inflicted a deep wound in the collective memory of the area.

In my work I wish to make a fusion between the industrial past of Heerlen and the ideals of the city with public oases and green recreational areas, the visions which were introduced by the government in Heerlen in the 1980's. Natural areas serve to regenerate a territory which over time has been exhausted and become dysfunctional, lending it new meaning in the urban fabric.

I started thinking about products that in some way have the same qualities as coal and I decided on diesel oil. To achieve this, I will do large scale urban gardening, "Urban Agriculture".
In March and early April, I will sow the wastelands and vacant lots in Heerlen with rape seed, so that parts of the city and surrounding areas over the summer will change into yellow flower fields. Rooftops and spaces in empty buildings could also be venues for my crops. Late August is the time of harvest, and I will then harvest the plants and press the seeds to make diesel oil.

By connecting the industrial past of Heerlen with its later role as a green city, I try to create a new identity for the city, paying homage to both facets of its history. From black to green to yellow.