Beautiful Bridges

Marina Caneve

A migration system breaking all European borders.

In 2015, when at the Royal Academy of Art (KABK Den Haag) I was offered the opportunity to work on a new project for a group exhibition with the theme “Paradise”, I decided to focus my research on contemporary utopias and doing this I came across the European project Natura 2000. This project main concern was the creation of ecological corridors for fauna and flora for the preservation of biodiversity in the EU. The project I started working on, Beautiful Bridges. A migration system breaking all european borders (2015-ongoing), aimed to push us to ask ourselves how we relate to the environment through the construction of infrastructures for “the other”. The project is constructed analyzing the design, the architecture and functions of these infrastructures and interfacing them together with the stories of “the other” (the animals).

The great European ecological corridor looks like a sort of natural paradise created by men to preserve biodiversity and thus protect animals from the infrastructures that men themselves had previously introduced into the landscape (roads and borders). It represents an intersection of layers of infrastructures and histories belonging to subsequent eras, thoughts and needs. 
A very important point to me is that the ecological network has the characteristic of not dealing so much with human legislation linked to national borders, but rather of responding to logics that derive from ecological thinking: it’s about freedom.

Bridges for animals tell us about our relationship with them as humans not only through architecture, but also through symbols of our power over them. In fact, the ecological corridors – like the paradisiacal territory of Utopia – have borders that force animals to stay within the predetermined territory, outside of which reign chaos and danger. The barriers, particularly the nets, make me think of a consideration by Didi-Huberman on barbed wire, which appears in Passer, quoi qu’il en coûte. The barbed wire, which can be identified in the net, is subtle because, unlike the walls, it gives you the feeling of freedom, as it allows you to see what lies beyond; it does not allow to lose hope. 
On this, however, we humans need to have a control again, to understand if the machine we have put in place works. For this reason the wildlife passages are monitored by a whole series of technologies that allow us to have a clear idea of how the passages are used and by whom.

The images of the monitoring cameras cleverly placed on the bridges make us discover the presence of the fox, deer, frogs or wild bison reintroduced into the Veluwe and Maashorst about a century after its disappearance.

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