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Emile Hermans

* 1988, NL

To future historians

As the name Natuurmonumenten literally brings monuments and nature together – the ‘Overgangszone’ (translates as transition zone) of the ENCI-area does something similar to industry and culture. This remarkable juncture manifests itself in the accidental archaeological findings of and in the tunnel systems during the mining – culminating in the alleged discovery of the underground culture of the Thebah by Robert Garcet (1912-2001) in the 70’s. Despite the fact that these findings actually indicate an even earlier delving industry, the negative space of the tunnel systems makes one think of monumental galleries – of manmade structures in cities, raised in limestone.

It is noteworthy that, wherever there is limestone, there is (engraved) graffiti. It has become a global phenomenon that unites conventions of the everyday, ideals and times – in stone. Therefore I decided to collect remarkable graffiti found on buildings and other limestone structures in Maastricht to subsequently bring them back to the voids of the tunnels, where the limestone on which they exist today has once been delved: the ‘Transition zone’.

To future historians, like graffiti, will continuously be in the making, on the one hand by means of continuously adding copies of existing graffiti to the project site, on the other hand by letting the site be receptive to (future) visitors’ graffiti who – whatever their intention – want to be part of the project’s ‘cognitive archaeology’. Therefore the project not only aims to rediscover local history based on individual narratives; it also incorporates the social process of meaning-making and, to a certain degree and with respect to Garcet, the negotiation of knowledge.
Emile Hermans collaborates with Frenk Janssen, Manager nature conservation at Natuurmonumenten