Landscape Amnesia

Sjoerd van Leeuwen

As the last horse trailer passes you by on the potholed road you take an exit. Across a green pasture you park the car. You stretch your legs. Gravel grinds underneath the feet while walking towards the bar – “Tattan’s Ring View Bar” it reads on the yellowish plastered building. Flowers in pots await under the dark windows.

You push the door open and greet the group of men and a woman sitting at the table on the left. They’re absorbed in a game of cards. At the bar you ask the bartender what she would recommend. “A Pat Tattan Slammer,” she replies.

“Trick!” the woman at the table yells while exposing her cards.

You smell the pint (is that a mixture of Guinness, rum and blackcurrant you discern?) and stroll around. Framed photos cover the lath walls: all bars. Bars in a bar. The name tags read:

“Café Zaal Kloosterzicht – Convent View Hall Bar”: a brown brick building with a veranda and (again) flowers in pots beneath each post.

“Café ‘van ouds” Havenzicht – ‘of yore’ Harbour View Bar”: a white façade, white and green sunblinds, two lampposts.

“Brasserie Kolkzicht – Brasserie Brook View”: a neon name sign, a Heineken signboard, tables and chairs on the terrace, potted olive plants, a lamppost.

You near the matte windows. When standing on your toes, you can look into the field through a small segment of clear glass. Fallow land, shrubs and a rusty tractor, but no “Ring View”. Where did it go?

Next to the fireplace you finish your drink. It slowly grows dark; the card game is finished and another group takes their place. You’re kindly requested to leave, as the bar will be hosting a local farmer’s assembly.

 
 

The Learned Pig

 
 

Tattan’s Ring View Bar (Cork, Ireland) no longer looks out over what its name suggests. Instead of a ring of trees to shelter cattle, nowadays there is just a plain field outside its window. While landscapes constantly change and are forgotten by new generations, pubs in particular can become safe keepers of a community’s memories. (While doing so they paradoxically also stimulate amnesia due to the amounts of alcohol consumed.)

For my contribution to the Leamlara Art Trail (2019), in which Tattan’s Ring View Bar served as an exhibition space, I set off on my bike in search of bars in my home country which similarly lost the view their names suggest – like Marktzicht (Market View) and Havenzicht (Harbour View). The resulting series of photographs twin these bars spiritually to the Ring View Bar.

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

This is part of FIELDS, a section of The Learned Pig devoted to exploring fields as natural and (agri)cultural, invisible and visible, poor and productive, created and creators. FIELDS is conceived and edited by Marloe Mens.

 
 

The Learned Pig

 
 

Sjoerd van Leeuwen

Sjoerd van Leeuwen (1985) lives and works in Amsterdam. He completed an MFA at the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam (2010). He has exhibited in solo and group shows in the Netherlands and internationally (such as Ghent, Reykjavik, Wellington), and participated in multiple residencies including Pompgemaal (NL), supported by the Mondriaan Fund. Van Leeuwen mainly works with installation and performance which often include photography, video and sculpture. He explores the activity of humankind on earth through different media and projects, taking historical facts and political issues as a starting point. His artistic practice is characterised by journeys and long-term travel projects, through which he tries to find a connection between past and present, human and non-human, and nature and culture. His artworks are the result of the process of reconstruction and reinterpretation of crucial historical events from a contemporary perspective. A peculiar form of contemporary romanticism permeates all of his works.