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Jason Van Bruggen, Lowland, 2021

Jason van Bruggen's Lowland exhibition is installed on the walls of the Evergreen Brick Works
Top image caption: Jason van Bruggen, Lowland, 2021, Evergreen Brick Works. Photo: Jason van Bruggen

Jason van Bruggen, Lowland, 2021

Beginning in May, photographer and filmmaker Jason van Bruggen presents Lowland, a photography exhibit on view at Evergreen Brick Works through to April 2022. The exhibit is co-presented by Evergreen, the 2021 Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, and made possible through generous support from the Kingdom of the Netherlands. 

Van Bruggen’s Lowland features images from a body of work exploring engineering innovations in the Netherlands that address the effects of rising water levels. Van Bruggen’s images demonstrate the significant scale of the design features of dikes (or “dijks”) and flood barriers and how they act as reminders of a life dependent on technological innovation to address rising tides. 

The large scale prints are adjacent to the ponds which were previously a deep quarry pit where resources were extracted for brickmaking. The restored naturalized wetlands in this park act as a model for urban ecosystem planning and draw synergies to van Bruggen’s exhibit, highlighting the extensive landscape modifications and restoration work in Netherlands. Much of Netherlands sits below sea level, and risk of flooding is always a threat. Lowland is presented on buildings which sit in a floodplain, prone to flooding as they are nested in Toronto’s Don Valley ravine system. 

PROJECT BACKGROUND:

Over a series of trips to the Netherlands in 2019 and 2020, van Bruggen explored how the Dutch have dealt with the incursion of water and how they continually evolve in order to sustain their population, agricultural output, way of life and territorial integrity. The Lowland exhibition at Evergreen Brick Works asks a number of related questions, namely, ‘Can we live with climate change?’, ‘Can we engineer our way out of it?’, and ‘What is the significance of the Dutch example to the rest of the world?’ 

“Holland is my ancestral homeland and as such I have a special interest in its culture and landscapes” says van Bruggen. “My parents were members of the generation that got ‘squeezed out’ of the Netherlands after WWII on account of a lack of opportunity and space. They left at the time of the Zeeland flood in 1953. In a way, the encroaching seas informed their choice to emigrate to Canada."

 

Jason van Bruggen installing his exhibiton Lowlands at the Evergreen Brick Works
Lowlands being installed at the Evergreen Brick Works. Photo: Jason van Bruggen.
“The contemporary lowlands where people have settled are manufactured, and especially susceptible to the impacts of rising water driven by climate change.”
 Jason van Bruggen

“It is my intention to interpret this unique time in history so that others can access and learn from it, and hopefully consider our own behaviours to mitigate the risks of rising water levels, worldwide,” says van Bruggen.

Lowlands being installed at the Evergreen Brick Works
Lowlands installation. Photo: Jason van Bruggen.

This project was made possible through generous support from the of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

ABOUT JASON VAN BRUGGEN:

Jason van Bruggen is a Canadian photographer, filmmaker and activist based in Toronto. He has traveled and worked in over 100 countries, including some of the most remote and austere locations on the planet. His work is full of natural beauty, found light, substance and a clear appreciation of the natural world. His images capture the vulnerability of ecosystems and the people within; illuminating a tension between: the strength and fragility of people and land and the age-old resolve to survive. Lowland is an expansion of that body of work to consider how climate change affects densely populated and highly developed geographies at mid-latitudes. 

In addition to numerous international editorial and commercial publications, his work as a visual artist and northern storyteller has been profiled by National Geographic, Outside Magazine, Mountain Life Annual, The Explorers Journal and by numerous brands including Patagonia, Best Made Co., and Arc'teryx. His work been featured and awarded in PDN, Applied Arts, Communication Arts, ADCC, Shoots and various international award shows. His film work has aired on networks around the world including BBC, PBS, CBS, CBC, and SRF1. Jason holds a Masters Degree in History from Queen’s University and is a citizen of Canada and the Netherlands. He is a fellow International of the Explorers Club and a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society. He is TEDx 2021 speaker. Visit his website at https://www.jasonvanbruggen.com/.