Heritage Landscape Intervention

Work Package 4

Work Package Leader: Gertjan Plets, UU

In 1963 the Groningen gas field started production. As the largest onshore gas field of Europe it has provided much of Western Europe with natural gas for over half a century. At the same time, the field embodies Anthropocenic violence. In a country below the rising sea, large parts of the north of the Netherlands are subsiding because of fast-paced extraction. More problematically, human induced earthquakes affect people’s well-being. Close to 100.000 houses have been affected, many need to be rebuilt. Shell, ExxonMobile and the Dutch state have failed to compensate those affected by the gas extraction.

Grassroots activists have halted extraction and set up social institutions to mitigate the destruction by fast-paced extraction. One key initiative has been “EPIQ”, a grassroots documentation centre under development by and for residents of the earthquake area. Today, the history of gas extraction and its many issues are not remembered in the public space. Furthermore, within the communities of Groningen the past is seen as “difficult heritage” creating contestation at the grassroots level. EPIQ wishes to mobilise the cultural landscape of Groningen to make visible the energy landscape. The documentation centre aims to curate this heritage landscape together with community members through co-curation, to overcome societal fragmentation around this difficult past.