Onland, 2023

In this thesis, I map out a theoretical framework that explores the power dynamics inherent in framing landscapes within contemporary art. My focus is on the Eempolder, a meticulously cultivated landscape nestled in the Netherlands, tracing its historical and cultural evolution. I argue that how we frame landscapes holds profound consequences for both society and the environment, with the human gaze serving as a pivotal force.

Delving deeper, I expose the transformation of the Dutch landscape from its primordial state as a despised swamp—the anti-landscape, vilified by Christian missionaries and foreign overlords—to its eventual subjugation, culminating in the creation of the polder. This metamorphosis was meticulously documented and framed by Dutch landscape painters, bequeathing upon us the very concept of ‘landscape’ and an enduring paradigm of land control that continues to exert its influence upon our cultural consciousness.

Furthermore, I extend my exploration beyond Dutch borders, examining the alternative perspectives offered by artists in different contexts such as Iranian Abbas Kiarostami and Thai Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Through their lens, we are presented with fresh modalities of perceiving and engaging with the landscapes we inhabit, challenging established Western norms and inviting a reevaluation of our relationship with the natural world.