To Break Ground

mayra sérgio

To break ground


1 - (literally) To begin digging in the earth at the start of a new construction, or cultivation.  

2 - (idiomatic) To initiate a new undertake, to advance beyond previous achievements.

The current dwellers of the Bijlmerbajes* left behind destroyed homes that in some cases only exist now through their recollections and body memory.

How can the inhabitants of the former prison turn the cells into homes?

The project focuses on the great power small and symbolic elements gain in building up a new sense of belonging.

After researching with some of the building inhabitants I came across the Syrian custom to collect flowers from the landscape, dry them and drink as tea. Being the most common camomile and roses.

The built landscape recreates the dimensions and shape of one of the Bijlmerbajes' cell  and turns it into a possible meeting place where dwellers and visitors can share a cup of tea.

* The Bijlmebajes is a former prison turned into refugee asylum seeker centrum located in Amsterdam. A group of 12 artists were invited by curator Nathalie Farber to create site-specific work for a temporary museum located at the building complex.

Photos by Franz Muller Schmidt

© Mayra Sérgio, 2020