Interdisciplinair onderzoek: het landschap van binnenuit bekijken

Door Marjolijn Boterenbrood

Beeldend kunstenaar...

Opwaaiende linten markeren de hoge pas. Hier stoppen we onderweg. De Karakolvallei in het Altaj-gebergte in Siberië is het doel, de plek waar we onderzoek gaan doen. We willen doorrijden maar onze Altaj-chauffeur zegt: ‘Je passeert nooit een pas zonder je respect te betuigen’. Een mooi voorproefje van de kijk van de Altaj op hun landschap.

In de zomer van 2016 gaat een internationaal team onderzoekers naar Siberië. Op initiatief van bioloog/reiziger/schrijfster Arita Baaijens, gaan landschaps-ecoloog Bas Pedroli van de Wageningen Universteit en beeldend kunstenaar Marjolijn Boterenbrood naar het Altaigebergte. Met als doel: onderzoek naar de visie van de Altai op hun landschap, en om lokale kennis in kaart te brengen: The Landscape Speaks


The Landscape Speaks

The Karakol Valley. Emerging from within 

How can we do a better job of ‘listening’ to landscapes and to the communities who call them home?  And, having listened, not only with our ears and eyes, but with all of our senses, our intellect and our intelligence, how can we do a better job of communicating that which we have observed, to the widest possible audience?

And ultimately, how can these communities themselves be most powerfully effective in translating the value of this land, their heritage, to the world outside the Altai?

Finally we made a booklet as a summary of a season of exploration in the Karakol valley of Russian Siberia in an attempt to answer these questions. In August 2016 Arita Baaijens invited a team of local residents, international scientists and artists to the Karakol valley to observe and survey the landscape in a practice called deep mapping. The deep maps provide a multi-layered impression of the valley, the people, objects, flora and fauna that exist within it. The maps also encompass the beliefs, desires, hopes and fears of its residents. It is our hope that the maps assist the communities in the valley to effectively translate the value of this land, their heritage, to the world outside the Altai.

Arita Baaijens inspired and organized the project The Landscape Speaks. She has travelled the Altai region for years and wrote a successful book – Looking for Paradise (Atlas Contact, 2016) – about her experiences.

The Karakol valley is a forty km long wrinkle in the Altai Mountains in the very center of Eurasia. Situated in Russia, it is connected with Altaian traditions in nearby Kazakhstan, China and Mongolia as well. From time immemorial the Altai people have considered the valley a sacral landscape and that many of its places deserve special reverence.

In August 2016 the seminar ‘Karakol valley – The Landscape Speaks‘ was undertaken to study this landscape from within. Local residents agreed to leave off their haymaking to join a small group of international scientists and researchers. Together they carefully observed and mapped the Karakol landscape. The thematic maps in this small atlas illustrate the diverse layers that were identified in the landscape. Art and science merge, senses are conjured and are presented in a coherent way. Every page shows a new perspective, reflects a further layer of perception and invites to explore ever more deeply.

With thanks to the gracious Altai people for their hospitality and for sharing their stories with us. We hope that our intimate collaboration will strengthen the Altai identity and help to empower a prosperous future which is respectful of the precious Karakol landscape.

Door Marjolijn Boterenbrood

Beeldend kunstenaar

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