Henri van Noordenburg

Fabrik Projects / Henri van Noordenburg

Water Line

During the Second World War more than 8000 farms were destroyed in The Netherlands. A large number of these farms were destroyed In May 1940 by the Dutch army to clear the fields and create a large shooting range against the fast approaching German army.

The clearing of the fields was part of the Grebbe Line; first established in 1745 as a line of defense to protect The Netherlands from invading armies. If an invasion was imminent, parts of the area between Spakenburg and the Grebbeberg were to be flooded. Until World War II it was never actually used for this purpose.

The City of Amersfoort (where my father’s side of the family is from) is in the northern part of the Grebbe Line. In the early hours of May 10th, as the German army invaded The Netherlands, the Dutch army evacuated the area north of Amersfoort, destroyed a total of 80 farms and flooded the fields. Several of these farmlands belonged to my family.

While my family always lived in the area, I knew very little about the local knowledge of the war times. Every now and then my grandparents or parents would tell us stories about an extraordinary event but the details and scope of the operations was largely misunderstood. It is the personal stories that remained with me. One in particular is about the evacuation of the area and then a return to a destroyed home.

The artworks created for the exhibition ‘water line’ combines two techniques; one the historical archival photographic image from 1940 and the other is the narrative created by etching the print. The etching is a combination of outlining the existing image, creating a silhouette of the photographic subject and scraping away the outside areas, drawing on what I imagined the flooded landscape to look like and my memory of the landscape as I saw it years later. — Henri van Noordenburg


August 25, 2017