The Netherlands: Red Sand on Maasvlakte 2 Beach

Red Sand on Maasvlakte 2 Beach

The British-German artist duo HeHe will realise a colourful art project on the beach of Maasvlakte 2 in Rotterdam at the end of May 2012. The project, entitled RODUIN, will involve spreading around 75 cubic tonnes of red sand on the beach, where it will form a large red stain that will gradually disappear under the influence of wind, rain and sea.

Whether that will take a long time or happen very fast is uncertain and depends on the weather.

Artists Helen Evans and Heiko Hansen (together: HeHe) live in Paris. Since they started collaborating in 1999 they have executed art projects throughout Europe. They often realise projects that give a totally different meaning to familiar situations. At the same time, their work is also poetic and humorous.

HeHe: “We were amazed that although Maasvlakte 2 was created totally by man, the beach and dunes look so natural, as if they had always been there. We wanted to emphasise this field of tension between nature and human intervention. We are doing that by putting a layer of red sand on the beach. It will seem very unnatural. Some visitors may associate it with a Martian landscape or pollution and danger, but at the same time the colour makes it very beautiful. The beach usually looks very natural and as a visitor you are the element that seems unnatural. That feeling will probably be reversed.”

From 26 May

The 75 tonnes of red sand, a good 50 cubic metres, will be a little south of the southernmost beach entrance of the new recreation beach on Maasvlakte 2. That beach will be open to the public from Saturday 26 May. The project will be visible from that moment and can be visited. It is a few hundred metres south of the first beach entrance. Visitors can simply walk to it. It can also be viewed from the Noordzeeboulevard, that is, the Slufterdijk.

People are allowed to walk over the sand. According to the artists, recreational users are a natural factor here, just like wind and rain and have an effect on how the work will develop. The sand is ordinary sand with a thin layer of colouring. It has been tested comprehensively and certified. It is harmless to humans and the environment.

Blow away

Over time, the sand will be blown away and be absorbed in the surroundings. The work of art thus also concerns the forces of nature and transience and suggests that if 50 cubic metres of sand can disappear so easily, the idea of ‘land’ in the Netherlands is an elusive concept.

The slow shifting and disappearance of the sand will be recorded through photographs of the location taken regularly from the same point. Those photos, when animated in sequence, will eventually be all that is left of the work.

RODUIN by HeHe is part of Portscapes 2, a series of art projects in the context of the construction of Maasvlakte 2. The first edition of Portscapes took place in 2009. In those projects, culminating in an exhibition in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, the artists explored the geology, cultural history and ecology of Maasvlakte 2. Four artists have been commissioned to create a work of art for Portscapes 2. Almost simultaneously with the work of HeHe, a work by the Rotterdam artist-architect Jan Konings will be put into use. His work consists of monumental stairs that bring visitors from the parking area across the dunes and down to the recreation beach.


Dredging Today Staff, May 2, 2012; Image: maasvlakte2