Field Trip: Art and Ecology Review
Nato Base Cannerberg
Jan van Eyck Academie
Surreal and, after decades of European peace, rather a blurred monument to masculine war technology: the NATO war headquarters PWHQ NORTHAG/2.ATAF JOC in Cannerberg. On our fiedtripp to Maastricht (20-21 October), the Limburg Landscape Foundation guided us through a parallel universe of 25 km of tunnels, which had its origins in the underground production facility built by the Nazis 1944. The Dutch War Ministry leased the facility on 15 April 1954 for a period of fifty years. During the daily main shift, an average of between 250 and 400 British, Dutch, Belgian, German, Canadian and American soldiers and civilian employees worked at the plant. During exercises, the number rose to the occupancy of more than 1000 people foreseen for an emergency. And all top secret! A large kitchen with canteen housed in the tunnels provided food in the bunker, a hairdresser for fancy Elvis Presley hairstyles and at a vending machine corner the crew could supply themselves with drinks and chocolate.
The work was dangerous not so much because of a threat situation, but because of the asbestos contamination of the air in the tunnel. NATO nevertheless decided to keep the facility in operation until its planned closure. While civilian employees received respiratory protection, soldiers continued to work in the facility unprotected – and somtimes died for this. In the meantime, the tunnels have been decontaminated and restored to their original condition as far as possible. Due to the very high humidity, the site is unfortunately only suitable for artistic use to a limited extent; various attempts have been made.
Another highlight of our field trip was the visit to the Jan van Eyck Academie, an international residency for postgraduates from all over the world and from a wide range of disciplines. Here, knowledge and experimentation, experience and the desire for innovation flow together and create the foundations for a sustainable intercultural future perspective of our global living space. Thanks to Bruno Almeida for the impressive guided tour and of course to Joep for the great organisation of the two days!