Xandra van der Eijk

Ghost Reef
Ghost Reef
Ghost Reef
Ghost Reef

The place

Ecole Sainte-Marie



Hours and dates

  • From 10am to 6pm daily
Ambassade des Pays-Bas

Xandra van der Eijk is a Dutch artist, researcher and educator. Her practice is situated in the field of ecological art and ecocriticism, with a specific interest in the influence of the technosphere on evolutionary processes and methods of attunement, particularly to matter and their situated and networked lives.

The artistic practice is research-driven and finds its voice in developing and exhibiting artwork, writing, curating, and developing education. For the past 4.5 years, Xandra has pioneered ecological art in the field of education, by founding and developing a new master’s program “Ecology Futures” at the Master Institute of Visual Cultures of Avans University of Applied Sciences, that puts the exploration and invention of artistic-scientific methods at the forefront of practicing ecocritical theory in the field, aiming to find new ways of (co)generating practice-led knowledge in the process. Ecology Futures is the first MA program on ecological art in the Netherlands, as well as the first MA art program in the Netherlands to center, facilitate and teach biotechnological methodologies. The latter was developed from their position as a researcher in the affiliated Biobased Art&Design Research group (CARADT) and in the newly installed Material Incubator Lab & Project Space.

Over the years Xandra has been involved with numerous institutions and initiatives, often leading to longstanding collaborations and multiple roles, such as with MU Hybrid Art House and the Bio Art & Design Award, Embassy of the North Sea, FIBER, and ZKM/Driving the Human and is co-leading the discussion group “Planetary Ecologies” as an associated researcher at Critical Media Lab (FHNW University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland, CH). Their work is exhibited worldwide, most recently at the Biennale of Sydney, ZKM Centre for Art and Media Karlsruhe, and MUDAC Lausanne.

Xandra Vander Eijck

Ghost Reef

The many artificial substrates in the North Sea are biodiversity hotspots ; cold water coral reefs that surely play an immense role in the bigger ecosystem of the European continental shelf — however, they are barely researched nor protected. The many patches of reef are temporal, ephemeral, and alien, and demonstrate an unexpected emergence of life in an environment under immense anthropogenic pressure.

With thousands of ship- and plane wrecks covering the North Sea floor, and a growing amount of structures such as fossil fuel rigs and windmills serving as substrates, new underwater communities are continuously forming. Each artificial reef can exist due to its particular geographical location, and so forms an ecosystem unique in its composition and identity. The reefs themselves can be considered time capsules, showing how the process of anthropogenic colonization of the sea enters into the natural archive, as they are overgrown shipwrecks, abandoned wells, and drilling platforms entangled with ghosts of past and present activities in the form of old ammunition, fishing gear and lost cargo.

With Ghost Reef, Van der Eijk speculates the fantasy of a North Sea filled with patchy reefs in the spectators’ imagination. Animated video collages with 3D models based on the scarce footage taken by divers are juxtaposed with field recording soundscapes taken at two locations : an oyster bank near the Brouwersdam in Zeeland located in the south of the Netherlands, and the wreck of the Ara, a steamship that was sunk by a mine in 1942, located north of Schiermonnikoog in the northern part of Dutch waters.

Embassy of the North Sea

Ghost Reef is the result of a research period with the Embassy of the North Sea, as part of the case study on underwater noise. It builds further on the BioArt & Design Award project Seasynthesis, a sound installation about noise pollution in the North Sea. Both projects were realized with help of Wageningen Marine Research and NIOZ. The Embassy of the North Sea was founded on the basis of the principle that The North Sea (and life in) it owns itself. Here the things, plants, animals and people in and around the North Sea are given a voice.

3D modeling :
Sacha van den Haak

Sound design :
Sébastien Robert

Project partners :
WMR, NIOZ, Dutch Maritime Productions
& Stichting Duik de Noordzee Schoon

Commissioners :
Ghost Reef was commissioned by Embassy of the North Sea, MU Hybrid Art House and Re-Nature Festival

Ghost Reef
Ghost Reef
Ghost Reef