Recreation Ground

A trilateral European collaborative project between Wasteland Twinning Berlin, Wasteland Twinning Nottingham and W139 Amsterdam
Through engagement with the inhabitants and users of three wasteland sites known locally as:


Two mass-participation public art projects across the two of the Rereation Ground wasteland sites, resulting in a trans-European photographic series documenting the recreation of unrealised architectural developments

Artists’ Impression, Nottingham, Amsterdam and Berlin. (Autumn 2012 – Summer 2013)
A mass-participation public art project focusing on unrealised development plans for wastelands in Nottingham and Berlin. The project worked with communities around these sites to stage re-creations of the architectural visualisations that accompanied master plans for their development, casting participants as the fictional characters populating unrealised architecture.

The one day interactive events in each location were followed by a refreshments and discussion with participants. The re-creations are documented below as pan-European medium format photographic series that have been exhibited at One Thorsby Street Gallery, Nottingham. The work will also travel to other sites within the project.

(Left) The Nottingham event is a re-enactment of an image from the unrealised Hopkins Masterplan for the Eastside area of Nottingham. (Right) The event in Berlin was a re-enactment of the failed Spree-Port development from HOCHTIEF

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Hearing The Island, Die Köpi Brache and Het Stenen Hoofd

Lead by Alex Head and David Bell of the Wasteland Twinning Network, Threefold Audio encompasses the audio aspects of Recreation Ground – a project exploring the socialities, temporalities and functions of wastelands near the centres of Nottingham (The Island), Berlin (Die Köpi Brache) and Amsterdam (Het Stenen Hoofd).
Projects so far include:

Brownfield Narratives – An audio montage weaving together residents of the three cities discussing their hopes, fears and memories relating to the three wastelands. Presented without comment or context, the result is a complex and contradictory tapestry that testifies to these wastelands’ multiplicitous, contested natures.

Imaginary Landscape No. 1 – A commissioned musical work by composer Janneke van der Putten. Inspired by mornings spent on the beach at Het Stenen Hoofd, the work consists of field recordings mimicked by extended vocal techniques. Like Het Stenen Hoofd, the work functions as a theatre for untold drama.

Soundcards from Het Stenen Hoofd – A commissioned work by sound artist and architect Alonso Vazquez. Mimicking the format of the classical postcard, Vazquez’s soundcards function as a tool for social exchange; traversing the space between the material, personal and social realms to open up new avenues for the exploration of Het Stenen Hoofd’s rich tapestry of sounds.

The Island OST – A commissioned work by the group Surfacing. Inspired by The Island’s resonances with the strange, non-linear temporalities and foreboding atmosphere of ‘The Zone’ in Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker, Surfacing looked to recreate the eerie, synth based sonics of Eduard Artemyev’s soundtrack for that film. The work also features a percussion instrument made by band member Daniel Horner from materials scavenged from The Island.

Radio Essays – Drawing on the above material (and more) – Alex Head and David M.Bell produced Dogged Lands and Wasted Common.


Rough, pervasive, dogged land. Alex Head documents a  process of European-wide research and artistic intervention into the contested territory of two urban wastelands. (Berlin//Amsterdam)

Itself generated from a collaborative process the piece draws on the diverse knowledges of a transdisciplinary network to reveal differing and often frustrated strategies of collaboration and offline resistance to privatisation.

In documenting and discussing Recreation Ground’s central artistic intervention Artist’s Impression, Dogged Lands explores the meaning of participatory art within the age of global surveillance. How or where can work, let alone art occur at a time when participation within the global surveillance network is no longer an option, but the very condition of new knowledge creation?

Using a blend of interview, experimental music and narration (Head plays the voice of the often critical Wasteland itself), the essay pursues a series of entangled threads stemming from artistic research, squatter culture and activism as they weave together to form a textured audioscape.

Wasted Common by David M. Bell, with music by Surfacing

Wasted Common is a radio essay that retells the (future) histories of two inner-city wastelands: ‘The Island’ in Nottingham, and ‘Köpi Brache’ in Berlin. A post-industrial docu-fiction consisting of interviews with people who use these spaces, fragmented narration and specially composed music; it speculatively reconsiders the rhythms, values and functions of urban wastelands. It opens them up as common spaces of possibility, considers attempts to enclose them (materially and immaterially) and wonders who and what might be considered ‘waste’ if people and land are increasingly rendered surplus to capital’s requirements. Neither celebratory nor condemnatory of wastelands, the result is a cubist, non-linear portrayal of their vibrancy, potential and dangers.

Reference points include Jonathan Meades’ television city-portraits, Owen Hatherley’s writings on urban space, the uncanny spatiotemporalities of Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker (and Eduard Artemyev’s soundtrack), Ewan MacColl’s radio ballads, the early work of Einstürzende Neubauten, autonomist theories of the commons and J.G. Ballard’s disaster fiction.

Recreation Ground Amsterdam: W139 Gallery + Het Stenen Hoofd – September 5th, 7th 

On Thursday 5 September, Alex Head (Wasteland Twinning Berlin), David Bell (Wasteland Twinning Nottingham), and Ansgar Reul (W139) gave a short talk on issues related to the project, introduce the Amsterdam site Het Stenen Hoofd, and present some of the research conducted so far. Additionally, artists Janneke van der Putten and Alonso Vazquez introduced their audioworks developed for the occasion.

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Images: Henni van Beek

On Saturday 7 September, WTN joined the festivities arranged for Stichting Het Stenen Hoofd’s25th anniversary on Het Stenen Hoofd, where works by Janneke van der Putten and Alonso Vazquez were be presented. Visitors were also be invited to listen to audio-research conducted earlier in the project through sets of wireless headphones.

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Images: Ansgar Reul, Alex Head