Lucie Ponard

Leaving traces: stories of an industrial geology

How can we learn to read a landscape and its material histories? Many landscapes are haunted by industrial histories that have become part of geology and what we now recognize as ‘nature’. This project studies the area of Zuiderstand and Westduinpark in Zuid-Holland. Although this seems to be a natural area, the landscape and its soil are full of ‘ghosts’ and ‘monsters’ –waste and debris. Slags and other by-products of industry, the silent hybrid relics of an industrial past, have become part it.

This project is about revealing the area’s hidden stories and exploring how we could read the material landscape as well as finding new applications for the rejected by-products we encounter in it. By giving a voice to these rejected monsters, multiple stories intersect: the history of the Netherlands, and of the construction of the park and the beach.

Working with the help of a scientist and a park-volunteer, I created a geological guide, categorizing these new specimens. In contact with a ceramist, I worked on reusing the rejected industrial waste as a pigment for glazing a set of three landmarks telling different stories of the haunted landscape.

“The monsters [...] have a double meaning: on one hand, they help us pay attention to ancient chimeric entanglements, on the other, they point us towards the monstrosities of modern Man. Monsters ask us to consider the wonders and terror of symbiotic entanglement in the anthropocene. In the indeterminate conditions environmental damage, nature is suddenly unfamiliar again. How shall we find our way? Against the fable of progress, ghosts guide us through hanted lives and landscapes. Against the conceit of the individual, monsters highlight symbiosis, the enfolding of bodies within bodies in evolution and in every ecological niche.”
Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing et al., The arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene, 2017

Professional Vision            
‘I like to go back and forth between intuitive and reflective modes of working, to balance theory and practice. I conduct material and field research, use drawing and material experiments, while theoretical reflection and writing serve as the backbone in my process. In the near future, I would like to work transdisciplinary to further investigate the entanglement of geology and industry. Industrial design participated in spreading all types of materials into the soil. What types of production are possible in our current context? How can I design to care for the monsters created by modern industry? How can I design for and against a polluted landscape on a damaged planet, improving our entanglement with all the living beings in our eco-system?’

Text: Lucie Ponard