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Deep Time Agency's projects spring from the crossroads of art, design, archaeology and cultural heritage. The agency members view its interdisciplinary work as exercises in deep-time thinking, trying to break through the short-term thinking that stands at the origin of the climate crisis. Deep Time Agency is characterised by a strong methodical approach. By means of temporary interventions and art in public space, it focuses on archaeological objects that have been found in various (post-)industrial landscapes, collaborating with scientists, experts and local residents. Deep Time Agency believes that mining areas deserve more attention, especially in a time characterised by the awareness of the finiteness of fossil fuels and other industrial resources.

The long, vertical space of Gallery 3 functions as a mineshaft in this exhibition, highlighting various finds from geological layers and excavation sites explored in the agency’s different projects.

Industrial landscapes are often completely transformed after resources have been extracted, resulting in the loss of their cultural and ecological identity. The ‘new’ designed nature usually fails to make up for the ecologically valuable landscape which has been sacrificed for industry, resulting in a tabula rasa, in which the industry itself, but also the history of the landscape, is completely erased. Deep Time Agency seeks a more holistic approach to landscape reconstruction, giving meaning to industrial heritage and the global and local impact of the industry. The agency approaches landscapes by looking at the archaeological objects that have come to light through excavation work.

Industrial areas act as enormous archaeological passages into deep time, revealing the intrinsic qualities of the landscape and providing insight into its complex characteristics. 

But how to proceed from this valuable knowledge? And does the landscape itself benefit from these valuable insights into the structure of the place? After all, many of the archaeological objects end up in national museums, completely losing their relationship with the place of origin. This problem raises the question of how the symbolic meanings of the objects, showing complex, (pre)historic relationships between humans, animals and planet, can still play an active role in the re-cultivation of the mined area. These old relationships, in which people still lived intimately together with nature, stand in stark contrast to our current commercial society, of which the industrial sites bear the scars. Deep Time Agency’s mission is to develop a sense of belonging in the disrupted landscapes themselves and on a larger, social scale in the Anthropocene. 

About Deep Time Agency

The interdisciplinary art initiative Deep Time Agency was founded in 2020 by visual artists Miriam Sentler (1994, DE/NL) and Wouter Osterholt (1979, NL/DE).

Miriam Sentler is a visual artist and artistic researcher, born in Germany and based in Rotterdam/Amsterdam, the Netherlands. She graduated cum laude from the University of Amsterdam (MA Artistic Research, 2020) and the Academy of Fine Arts in Maastricht (BFA Fine Arts, 2016) and received a certificate in Visual Anthropology from Goldsmiths, University of London (2017). Sentler works in the mediums of (sound/video) installations, performance, and artist publications. She is fascinated by the transformation of industrial and modern landscapes and the migration of humans, animals and matter in these environments. In order to open various layers of a place up to the audience, she collaborates with scientists and individuals next to taking different roles during the process, learning skills affiliated to her current field of research. Sacrifice is a central topic in Sentler’s work, where she questions if we should sacrifice nature and human environments to build potentially better but also potentially planet-damaging habitats. Balancing between myth and politics, her work grasps big environmental topics in intimate and poetic ways, opening them up to dialogue through an elaborate process of storytelling.

Wouter Osterholt is a Berlin-based artist who has a bachelor's degree in fine arts from the Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, the Netherlands (2001). His work is site- and context specific and manifests itself along the faultlines and breaking points of our (political) landscape, where social injustice, conflicts or problems come to light. These are unfinished places or unclear situations where democratic decision-making fails and where ideals fade in the face of fear, abuse of power and manipulation. These ruins in the neoliberal landscape offer the opportunity to expose the layers of history and uncover other memories and narratives that run counter to the existing hegemony. This is where the underlying crises of our time surface and where art can play a role in increasing the visibility of the problem and the position of marginalised groups or forgotten histories. The projects are designed in such a way that they are able to map, like a seismograph, the tensions in the social field.


Gallery 3
Het Nieuwe Instituut
Museumpark 25
3015 CB Rotterdam

Het Nieuwe Instituut
Maud Vervenne