Animal Estates 6.0: Utrecht

Fritz Haeg focuses on five species that may be accommodated in the human-dominated urban environment of Utrecht with modest, manmade “estates.”

20 September–2 November 2008 / Casco HQ
Opening: Friday, 19 September, 19:00  
A conversation between artist Fritz Haeg and cultural analyst Frans-Willem Korsten at 20:00 

Issues of sustainability and co-existence play a central role in the practice of LA-based architect and artist Fritz Haeg, which crosses the boundaries between architecture, activism, and art. 

With Animal Estates 6.0: Utrecht, commissioned by Casco – Office for Art, Design and Theory, Fritz Haeg focuses on five species that may be accommodated in the human-dominated urban environment of Utrecht with modest, manmade “estates.” With the project, Haeg investigates strategies for human and animal coexistence, suggesting the possibility of a more heterogeneous environment. He draws attention to the restrictive way humans shape their surroundings and the tendency for the living city to become a human monoculture. To extend beyond the currently dominant mode of architectural design and housing, he poses questions such as what it means to accommodate animals in the city. 

In consultation with five local animal experts Haeg selected the red admiral butterfly, the European kingfisher, the common swift, the grass snake and the green frog. With modest “estates,” or human constructions, local residents may restore these animals’ place in the city. 

The exhibition space at Casco is transformed into the Animal Estates headquarters, featuring a video on each of the experts sharing their knowledge, examples of the five estates built for the project, portraits of each of the five experts posing next to a local example of one of the estates, and an information room with brochures and materials about local urban wildlife. In addition, postcards about each of the animals are distributed and a field guide has been produced, including an essay by cultural analyst Frans-Willem Korsten. 

The Animal Estates series debuted at the 2008 Whitney Biennial. The series has continued through 2008 with editions in six other cities. Animal Estates 6.0: Utrecht takes it outside of the United States for the first time. 

Animal Lessons 

Saturday, 20 September, 12:00-17:00 

Starting with the introduction by Fritz Haeg, there is a screening of the new Utrecht Animal Estates video featuring interviews and site visits with local animal experts. It’s followed by presentations, activities and DIY Animal Estate making workshops with animal experts: Anko de Graaff, Jelle Jellesma, Tieneke de Groot Daan van der Elsken, and Annemarieke Spitzen. 


Special thanks to Mara Joustra and John Treffer for making the video, Annie Wu, Ravon, Buro voor Zwaluwen op Non-profit basis, buro Facet.

Animal Estates 6.0: Utrecht has been realized in the framework of Utrecht Consortium, a collaboration between Casco, Expodium and MaHKU, financially supported by Sia-Raak.

Animal Estates 6.0: Utrecht is generously supported by Fentener van Vlissingen Fonds, KF Hein Fonds, Mondriaan Stichting and Gemeente Utrecht.

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