Twenty-six percent of the Netherlands is below sea level; for centuries man has been holding back the tides to keep the country from flooding. Dikes, dams, pumps and other defenses have kept the area from a watery fate, but would happen if those interventions weren’t there?
This is what Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde and his team at Studio Roosegaarde have envisioned in Waterlicht, a temporary art installation in Amsterdam's 8-acre Museumplein square. Known for their beautiful, interactive designs and environments, for Waterlicht they created a surreal landscape to swim within that speaks to the power and poetry of water.
"Water awareness is crucial, without all our waterworks, the Rijksmuseum for instance could be under water. That is why we support this initiative," says Gerhard van den Top of the local waterboard.
And in fact, it was the recent acquisition by the Rijksmuseum of the 17th century painting by Jan Asselijn of the Amsterdam flood in 1651 that prompted the Waterlicht exhibition. Wim Pijbes, general director of the Rijksmuseum, says, "The painting explains clearly the dutch situation: we have always lived under the sea-level.” The painting and installation are a natural marriage, both reflecting on the water history of the Netherlands and the interaction between man and nature.