Te Huur Te Koop

Kerkrade, Netherlands, 2014



Zangkanaries (Singing canaries)
- 4 singing canaries, 29 competition cages for canaries
- Mp3-player (audio loop, 11min 57 sec)

Mijnbergen (Mining hills)
15 lightboxes (13cm x 19cm x 36cm), 1 lightbox (14cm x 22cm x 41cm)


Zangkanaries (Singing canaries)

The breeding of the singing canary is about as old as the history of mining in Europe. The birds were brought from Spain to Tirol (Austria) and from there to the Harz (Germany) always along the mining routes. Originally from the Canary Islands the bird was imported by the Spanish in the 14th century. Later monks started to breed and sell them. Finally, miners took over the business as they discovered it as a welcome additional income. Over time bird competitions emerged. The birds are judged for their tune, the coloring of their feathers and their features.
In the beginning of the mining aera canaries were brought down into the coal mines to test the quality of the air. They served as a kind of warning system. Did the bird start to behave strangely or even fall off the stem the miners had to get out fast. The air contained gases especially carbon monoxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) which should not pass a certain limit. (The birds could only give warnings to carbon monoxide)

The canary cages were piled up the same way as it is done for the singing competitions. On the opening day only, 4 birds were put into the cages.
For the remaining time of the exhibition, the birdcages were left empty.


Zangkanaries (Singing canaries)
Audio loop, 11min 57 sec
Visitors listened to the singing of the birds previously recorded in Mr Dill‘s garden, a passionate breeder of canaries.


Mijnbergen (mining hills)

By cycle I went exploring Kerkrade and its surroundings. In good weather the hills stand out clearly from the otherwise flatish land. The sludge of the coal dumped by the miners on the same site year after year became mountains shaped like monumental triangles the top of which was cut off.
Some of them were transformed into nature parks, one is used as a memorial site and as a tiny „skiing resort“ (an indoor skiing slope has been built) and others again are just left as they were ...


Opening day te huur, te koop

Mr Dill, who lent me his singing canaries for the day of the opening, also gave an introduction to the migration history of the bird, how this was related to the mining and how the breeding of singing canaries started in Europe.