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'Here Be Dragons' (2009), 'Surviving new land' (2009-2010)

Hier wonen draken
Courtesy: the artist

The first part of Dijkman's project for Portscapes was realised as a billboard image sited on the Maasvlakte inspired by, and titled after, the blank spots on old maps which declare ‘Here Be Dragons'. These sea-serpents inhabited points of fearful imagination imply a gap in the understanding of the known world. She witnessed the early stages of the construction of Maasvlakte 2, when it had just emerged from beneath the sea, yet to be connected to existing land and surrounded by sand breathing dredger-monsters. Through the motif of the dragon the artist introduces a means of considering Europe's connections with Asia through trade, and the differing cultural traditions of the dragon as inspiration of terror or guardian.

The second part, the looped film Surviving New Land (2009-2010), was shot from a vessel which circumnavigated this island in a contemporary echo of a method of Dutch colonial explorers, who would make water-colour paintings as navigational aids to the new coastlines which they encountered. The 'unknown island' and new piece of the Netherlands is inscribed in Dijkman's work with fresh mythological and fictional possibilities through the overlaying of soundtrack clips taken from various feature films. Suggesting how the new land exists most strongly in the realm of the imagination as a projection of both opportunity and trepidation, these fragments refer back to narratives of heroic discovery as well as marooned desperation.