Valerie van Leersum (1973, Den Haag, Nederland)

About Valerie van Leersum

What do we understand by the word ‘home’? Valerie van Leersum’s work focuses on this question. She has been working on The Archive of the Inbetween since 2012. This ‘Archive of the Inbetween’ consists of a collection of works whose main themes are transition, migration and re-use. Valerie researches the history of people and places that are on the move by travelling around, delving into archives, talking to the locals and reading stories.

She creates images and units which enter into a relationship with a place or a story, and she uses a wide variety of materials and media to do this. She always looks for the missing jigsaw pieces in existing stories in her work, and tells a potential story with a mixture of fact and fiction. For example, she created an alternative travel guide for Surinam in which villagers tell readers about their most important piece of land, and she researched her grandfather’s own farm which had become a victim of urbanisation due to large-scale migration from the country to the city.

Valerie van Leersum’s work has been exhibited at various places including the Textiel Biënnale 2011, Museum Rijswijk, the Oerol Festival in Terschelling (2013), the Over ‘t IJ festival in Amsterdam, This art fair, Beurs van Berlage in Amsterdam and Tembe Arts Studio in Moengo (Surinam).

About the art work

‘Waar de laatsten zijn weggegaan’
Olle Weem, Vliedorp, near Vlakke Riet 6, Houwerzijl

Valerie van Leersum has erected a visual unit at Olle Weem for the Kerstvloed 1717 Art Route, which is a terp dating back to the beginning of human history. A terp is an artificial mound constructed in order to provide a dry place during high tide. These mounds can be found along the entire coast of the Wadden Sea. Twelve tombstones and a few trees are all that remains of Vliedorp, a little village that was built in the Middle Ages. The name Vliedorp also means a sanctuary, somewhere to escape to. During the 1717 Christmas Flood, 32 houses were swept away and 48 people, 142 cows, 29 horses, 16 pigs and 194 sheep were drowned. The artist erected a unit in the shape of a jetty on this mound which has such a tragic history; this jetty symbolises the transition between land and water. It’s a place where you wave goodbye to people or wait for them to return, and where you can gaze with longing at whoever or whatever you miss or are waiting for. Visitors standing on the terp will get the impression that the jetty is projecting into the surrounding countryside. The artist affixed visual elements to the jetty as a reminder of the 48 villagers who drowned in Vliedorp; these refer to ways of warning people in case of flooding. The jetty is impassable and lies in front of us like an inaccessible beacon. It gives us the opportunity to ponder on our relationship with the sea and water generally for a little while longer.

About the location

Twelve grave stones and some trees. That is all that remains of Vliedorp, once a village with a church, thirteen houses and a parsonage (weem). The church disappeared in the early 18th century, afterwards also the houses and weem were lost.

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