“Art is the lie that reveals reality.” Jeroen Brouwers - “Culture, considered as a process, means acquiring a vast deal of useless knowledge, and then forgetting it.” Albert Jay Nock - “The world is full of objects, more or less interesting; I do not wish to add any more.” Douglas Huebler - “In life and in art one has to begin each day anew.” Louis Couperus

Title: Biografie van de vaarweg Lemmer-Delfzijl

photos by: Jikkie Cats Gerard Groenewoud Ytzen van der Wal
Project commissioned by the Provinces of Groningen and Fryslân.

The Biography of the Lemmer-Delfzijl Waterway was made possible thanks to the support of: Province of Fryslân, Province of Groningen, Stichting VSBfonds Friesland region, the Prins Bernard Cultuurfonds Groningen, Foundation SNS Fonds Eemsmond, BügelHajema Advisors Assen, Heuvelman Ibis B.V. Delfzijl, Sterk Heiwerken Drachten, Foreign Media Group Leeuwarden, Keunstwurk, Leeuwarden and Friesland College, Leeuwarden.

"The nicest book I’ve laid hands on this year."
Wim Brands on Dutch national radio ‘De Avonden’, VPRO

"A gem of an idea."
Author K. Schippers on Dutch national radio ‘Met het Oog op Morgen’, NOS

LEMMER – On the banks of the Lemmer-Delfzijl waterway which flows like a living artery through the Dutch provinces of Groningen and Fryslân, on Friday September 1st 2006, eighty-four biographers wrote the ‘Biography of the Lemmer-Delfzijl waterway’. The 84 authors spent a whole day, each manning a different observation post along the length of the navigation route. They included well-known Dutch writers such as K. Schippers, Nicolaas Matsier, Pauline Slot, Maria Barnas and Hans Aarsman, but also specialists such as a geographer, a biologist, an agriculturalist, a historian, an anthropologist and someone who grew up in a sailor’s family. Followed closely by the press, they sat by bridges, locks, ferries, aqueducts, yacht-basins, industrial terrains, on campsites and on boats on the waterway. Their observations have been compiled in the biography, words fitting together giving to give form to the waterway. Chapter headings such as ‘A non-experience’ and ‘Nothing ever happens here’ would seem to imply a lack of adventure, but whoever takes the trouble to zoom in on this ‘dismally long and straight canal where almost nothing exciting ever happens’ will discover a wealth of life and tragedy at the waters edge. Out of the blue it becomes apparent that a particular bridge-master collaborated with the German occupation during the Second World War. An unexpected abundance reveals itself: ‘There is so much here - cats, a mosquito, movement, stillness. Growth, shrinkage, waves. Everything wanting to be seen, observed, taken account of.’

Dutch national newspaper Trouw: ‘Lemmer-Delfzijl Waterway has its biography written in a day’ (Dutch only)
Biography of the Waterway on Google Books (Dutch only)

© Sjaak Langenberg & Vanessa van Dam