De Ontkieming

De Ontkieming (The Germination) is an interactive art installation: An edible model measuring no less than 20 square meters, of the Westergasfabriek cultural site in Amsterdam Westerpark. It was designed by Holger Nickisch in collaboration with the artist group Cascoland.

De Ontkieming took place on April 8 of 2018, when it was part of a neighbourhood picnic in the Westerpark in Amsterdam, as one of the events to celebrate the 15-year anniversary of Westergasfabriek.

De Ontkieming intends to inspire the neighbourhood interactively, to participate in the design and alternative use of Westerpark. Embedding the concept of a ´culture factory´ which, once at its start, stipulated the development of the abandonned Westergasfabriek by neighbourhood residents.

Over time, the attractiveness and popularity of Westerpark grew tremendously from this locally initiated development of the Westergasfabriek-area. The related use by a growing non-local public intensified over the years, while the Municipality and other stakeholders gained more controle over the now popularised area, and causing local residents to retreat. As its neighbourhood function erodes, many local residents feel they are losing the connection to what once felt as ´their´ Westerpark.

Along the design of the De Ontkieming-model, – which consisted for the greater part out of varieties of edible bean sprouts -,  we mapped out together with local residents the way in which they would like their park to be developed. In a direction that is alternative to the current one, as the latter is being determined by outside parties for the greater part, and is losing alignment with the original vision of a ´culture factory´ with a primarily local function.

Over 5.000 visitors attended the picnic!

The previous year, on June 18 of 2017, some 50 guests spent the night in the gardens of Westerpark during the Community Gardens Open-Air Hotel, – which was hosted by local residents, and the first known manifestation of an Open-Air Hotel in the Netherlands. Proceding along the line of the latter event, De Ontkieming is the next step towards (re-)involving local residents in the cultural programming of the Westerpark area.

One of the additional goals is to eventually restore the KunstEnHuis buildings on the premisses of the park back to their original intend: to be used as places for the creation and presentation of public art.

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