Joachim Koester, The New Land(s) and the Tale of Captain Mission (2004-2005)
Joachim Koester developed The New Land(s) and the Tale of Captain Mission (2004–2005), in which he linked the changing landscape of Flevoland to a ship of the the Dutch United East India Company (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie), the Batavia, and the legendary pirate Captain Mission.
Koester interwove a specific location with the stories and history of that location, like he does in many of his other works. This yields layered installations that are partly documentary and partly draw on (personal) associations.
The third project in the pavilion of De Verbeelding: FLUID VISTAS FLEVOLAND was organised in 2004 and 2005. The project’s central theme was the cultural identity of Flevoland and the future of its landscape. Three other organisations made presentations for this project in the pavilion of De Verbeelding. The SKOR Foundation for Art and Public Space invited the artist Joachim Koester to create a work for the pavilion.
Schipwrecks and piracy
For The New Land(s) and the Tale of Captain Mission (2004–2005), Joachim Koester took photographs to record changes in the Flevoland landscape. These photographs were the starting point for his installation in the pavilion of the De Verbeelding. The installation also included a picture made by Charles Breijer during the reclamation of Flevoland in 1940 (from the collection of the Nederlands Fotomuseum). In this photograph, history – in the shape of a wrecked ship – was literally laid bare when the land was reclaimed. The installation also included a model of a pirate ship. A video showed a woman reading aloud passages on the character of Captain Mission from the book Cities of the Red Night (1981) by the American writer William S. Burroughs (1914–1997). Maps of the province of Flevoland and De Verbeelding route linked the presentation in the pavilion to the surroundings: Koester had marked the photographed locations on the map of Flevoland; he then projected this map over the map of the De Verbeelding route. Outside, concrete blocks marked the same spots. Thus, each location on the map corresponded to a particular spot along the route.
The stories that Koester linked to the photographs of Flevoland are ambiguous. The Batavia is not only a symbol of the Dutch Golden Age, it also came to a tragic end in a terrible shipwreck off the Western Australian coast. The surviving mutinous crew members took a notion to found a kingdom of their own on their small desert island. In legend and in Burroughs’s book, Captain Mission is a pirate who founds his own free state of Libertatia on the Madagascan coast. As the name suggests, this tiny state was based on anarchist ideals. It was granted only a short life. All the tales and histories that Koester weaves into The New Land(s) and the Tale of Captain Mission (2004 - 2005) are about new land and utopian dreams or ideals, but also about their dark sides. In the light of the developments of the young province of Flevoland, this at the very least casts a few doubts on overly idealistic pictures of the future.
1 Realised in cooperation with the SKOR Foundation for Art and Public Space.
2 The preceding projects were ‘ARTificial NATURAL NETWORKS’ (2000–2001) and ‘LOOK AND FEEL’ (2002–2003). The New Land(s) and the Tale of Captain Mission (2004–2005) is the only work of art that was realised in the framework of ‘FLUID VISTAS FLEVOLAND’.
3 The SKOR Foundation for Art and Public Space (Amsterdam), the Dutch Architecture Institute (NAI, Rotterdam) and Groeneveld Castle/Forestry Commission (Baarn - Driebergen).
Joachim Koester, The New Land(s) and the Tale of Captain Mission
1962, Copenhagen, Denmark
The New Land(s) and the Tale of Captain Mission (2004–2005)
De Verbeelding Collection