The Oostvaardersplassen: ‘Making Space’ (for) Wilderness


  • Eline Schmeets



Dutch conservationist Thomas van Slobbe claims to have created real wilderness outside the human order by placing a hedge around a small piece of land in an unknown nature reserve somewhere in the Netherlands. Out of sight and out of mind, this place cannot be experienced, valued or made subject to human plans (2005). He presents this event in a fictional story about the perfect crime: Expropriating a piece of land from humankind, from the right to own, to allocate and to experience. His story is a response to the deconstruction of the received wilderness idea, an understanding of wilderness as pristine and untrammeled by man. This on-going deconstruction has not yet reached a conclusion, and thus all of our current interactions with nature, including the Oostvaardersplassen project, the site of this study, are part of it.


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