Radio Oostvaart

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Artist Camps Out in the Oostvaardersbuurt Neighbourhood

by Jossie van Puijenbroek, 1 September 2006

ALMERE – Over the next three weeks, the artist Esther Polak will be exploring the communication between animals and people in the Oostvaardersbuurt neighbourhood. This means that she will spend a week shut up in an empty house on this modern estate. Each day she will venture out to visit local people with pets. She will record these interviews, which can be heard on and at Berg and Daal Vets in the Oostvaardersbuurt.
    The project was developed by Museum de Paviljoens. Polak: “The nice thing here is that it’s like those places where three countries meet. But in this case it’s the city, agriculture and nature. In all three areas, I want to investigate how people communicate with animals.” So, after spending a week in the neighbourhood, she will move to a local farm before setting up camp for the last week in the Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve. “People use a particular tone for talking with, for instance, their cat or dog. And bird watchers also have their own jargon when they’re spotting birds. They’re mumbling things like ‘female, harrier’. It’s quite extraordinary.” Polak is hoping that her broadcasts will reach not only the citizens of Almere but also people abroad. For that reason, her radio broadcasts will be subtitled. “Radio broadcasts with subtitles is a completely new concept. Moreover, the advantage of the internet is that it can be heard everywhere. The project is both extremely local and very extensive. We’re approaching all kinds of animal clubs abroad so that they’ll be listening too.”
    Apart from her investigations, Polak regards living in Almere as a challenge. “I live in Amsterdam and I’m really curious about what it’s like on a modern estate. Especially one that’s still empty. I’ll certainly be hanging up some curtains.” She’s also hoping that the weather improves before she pitches her tent in the nature reserve. “But just to be on the safe side, I’ve bought some long knickers.”

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