Silent messengers & celebration

Silent messengers & celebration

Friday July 30 | 1.30pm – 5 pm

We are delighted that the kite installation of MKGK, ‘Silent Messengers’, will premiere flying in Rotterdam on Friday July 30 as part of the IABR—DOWN TO EARTH: WATERSCHOOL M4H+ program. With the kite installation Maarten Kolk and Guus Kusters show the silent decline of a magical phenomenon: the goose migration. As Covid-19 did not give us the opportunity to invite you all for an opening of this exhibition, we will throw a celebration party on Friday July 30 as well.


We look forward to welcoming you from 1.30pm at the terrace of the exhibition at Marconistraat 85, Rotterdam, where curators Rianne Makkink & Jurgen Bey can take you through the exhibition in small groups. They will explain the exhibited works by designers, artists and architects and discuss the origin of and the vision behind the WaterSchool. At 3pm, we will walk to the outdoor installation plot 004 Wood, next door, where the Silent Messengers are already flying, weather permitting (no rain and a good breeze). The kite installation will remain in the air until approximately 5pm. We will provide the refreshments! Since the event will be outdoors, no reservation is needed.

silent messengers

With ‘Silent Messengers’, Maarten Kolk and Guus Kusters draw attention to the particular tension that exists between the natural world and cultivated land with representational kites seemingly attached to the land by tethers of human making.

The goose is an unmistakable part of the Dutch landscape; however, this circumstance has not always been the case. In the last fifty years, the geese population in the Netherlands has increased tenfold. To complicate the matter of today’s large population of a few hundred thousand geese, several geese are losing their urge to migrate and, figuratively speaking, rooting into the land. The elusive beauty of migrating geese in flight, a sight that has inspired many cultures for centuries, has been marred by this alarming change in behavior.


Due to the softening of the climate, the availability of higher-quality food, long-running government policies that promote tolerance, and the limited number of natural enemies, the population of geese in the Netherlands has grown exorbitantly. This development has many consequences for the landscape. The geese have an impact on both natural and cultivated grassland; for that reason, their presence is seen by many as a nuisance. The conditionsare very attractive to geese given that breeding and foraging areas are a stone’s throw away from each other and no natural enemies exist here.

image by Roel van Tour

Not every goose species has stopped migrating, and the change does not concern every goose within a species. They are individual groups that previously covered smaller distances than their peers. These groups no longer see the need for the tough journey. This change can clearly be observed in the behavior of the greylag goose, but the first signs of this behavior are now starting to show in the barnacle goose and the white-fronted goose. Although the behavior change only concerns small numbers geese, the issue at hand seems to be both a harbinger and a warning: change is coming.

changing landscape

Although the goose is certainly guilty of the damage it inflicts on the landscape, it is by no means responsible. After all, humans have brought about the changes to the landscape that have inspired these behavioral adaptations.

The open-minded goose only chooses a home in the landscape according to its conditions; therefore, though the issue of the overstaying geese must be regarded as an undeniable problem, Kolk and Kusters experience a sense of regret that co-exists with this acknowledgment of reality.

image by Roel van Tour

For Maarten Kolk and Guus Kusters, the once-reliable flight of the goose holds a kind of magic that at one point seemed untouchable and unwavering; now, the natural marvel of migration, a marvel that possesses a poetic and age-old beauty that seems to lie outside the power of man, is blemished. This flock of geese carries with them a silent message: our longing for the earth is beginning to affect even the most elusive of natural phenomena.

moments of beauty

Maarten Kolk and Guus Kusters have often been described as contemporary romantic poets. Their crafts-based work aims to make tangible the fleeting moments of beauty that they observe in the natural landscape. Wistful and gently melancholic, their work seeks to connect the elusive experience of observing beauty with the soul of the object that inspires such gestures of reflection. In this way, their craft unites abstraction with acts of poetic translation, making the imaginary and emotional into something physical and external.

Studio Makkink & Bey
Marconistraat 85, Rotterdam

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