Leidsche Rijn Listens

On the relationship between the city and the countryside, and about the role that art and artists can play in this context.

What can we do to find a way out of the climate crisis, the energy crisis, the health crisis, and all those other global issues? One of the possibilities is to reduce these problems, to look for solutions nearby, so that we can practically engage with them in our daily lives.

In this train of thought, the project Leidsche Rijn Luistert (translated: Leidsche Rijn Listens) was initiated. A project by Casco in collaboration with the artist collective ‘The Outsiders,’ who are concerned about the world and the local residents around them, curious about the connections with the surrounding area of a new residential district.

At the heart of the Leidsche Rijn Listens project was the west side of the city of Utrecht, with the exceptionally large Vinex district, Leidsche Rijn. A modern suburban area that shares many similarities with other urban (new construction) neighborhoods bordering the surrounding area. The project can thus serve as an inspiration for anyone interested in or working on the relationship between the city and the countryside, and curious about the role that art and artists can play in this context.

The city and the surrounding area have gradually become estranged from each other. Numerous social, economic, and practical factors play a role in this process, and for both farmers and city dwellers, local, national, European, and global issues complicate the situation.

Today, we know Leidsche Rijn as the largest new residential district in the Netherlands. But if we could turn back time, we would see an agricultural landscape that produced food for the city for centuries. A few old farms are silent witnesses to this time before the grasslands, orchards, sandpaths, and polder ditches disappeared to make way for rows of houses, luxury homes, apartments, shopping centers, and a grid of new roads and green spaces.

Yet, farmers are still active in the heart of this new city. And in the surrounding area, right next to all the new developments, they feed, graze, milk, cultivate, thresh, store, plant, and harvest!

The Leidsche Rijn Listens project shows that a mutual interest has developed between artists and farmers, and they worked together to connect with the residents of Leidsche Rijn. With excursions, workshops, dialogues, exhibitions, and a harvest festival, they succeeded in establishing a connection with the citizens of Leidsche Rijn. The artists are the connectors, the visualizers, and the persuaders. With mobile installations, adults and children, along with the artists, went exploring and discovered how vibrant their surroundings are, what products can be obtained directly from the farmers, how farmers and caretakers gently manage the landscape, and how ecology, heritage, and sustainability can be put into practice. How a bigger goal can be achieved with small steps.

The Leidsche Rijn Listens project perfectly aligned with the vision of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, which places a vital, sustainable agricultural sector, the quality of nature and the environment, and the livability of the countryside at its core. Thanks in part to funding from this fund, the Leidsche Rijn Listens project was successfully realized.


The farmers and farmer’s wives: Afke Huitema (farmer in training), Alexandra van der Vis-Kruijswijk (Rood Noot), Anne van Rijn (Geertje’s Hoeve), Boer Kees (Ter Weide), Boudewijn Rijff (Stekkers), Daphne de Bruin (Vrijstaat), Edith Spruit (LTO), Grace Lostia (kombucha Mistress), Henk (Boer Goes), Jan en Maarten (Voedselbos Haarzuilens), Mari Pitkaenen(Kasvio), Marije Klever (NAJK), Niels Rijken (Micro Organics), Paul Groen (Nieuwe molenaar in Leidsche Rijn), Peter en Laura van Rossum (Boer Peter), Piet van Schaik (Boerderij de Koepel), Raffael (xexek), Ramona Schalkwijk (Bloemenweidemelk), Roel (Terwijde bier club), Sander Drent (Stichting Johaniterveld), Simone (Moestuin de Haar), Wendy Klever (Melktap Harmelen), Yessie (Stekkers).

The artists: Alexandra Martens, Ali Authman, Anette Kraus, Angelina Kumar, Avan Omar, Britt Dorenbosch, Cee bakker, Chantal van Lieshout, Charli, Claudio Pieri, Corelia Baibarac, Csilla Kle- nyánszki, Daan Zwarts, Dieneke Oudijk, Ekim Tan, Elvis Krstulovic, Em- meli Person, Guodakota, Joe Buggila, Jorge Menna Barreto, Jos Zwarts, Liza Rinkema, Manne Heijman, Mariëlle Videler, Marika Vandekraats, Maxim Yesodharan, Mia van den Bos, Noël van Dooren, Paravaneh, Pieter Veen, Raul Silva, Rosa Lee szarzynski, Sinwah, Tom Dello, Wapke Feenstra, Wobke Kolk, Yentl van Stokkum.

Coreteam: Asia Komarova (artist, The Outsiders), Binna Choi (curator, Casco Art In- stitute), Erik Uitenbogaard (coordination, Casco Art Institute), Leana Boven (curator, Casco Art Institute), Luke Cohlen (communication, Casco Art Institute), Marianna Takou (producer, Casco Art Institute), Merel Zwarts (artist, The Outsiders), Staci Bu Shea (curator, Casco Art Institute), Txell Blanco (artist, The Outsiders).

This project was made possible in part thanks to financial support from the Rural Development Program 2014-2020 for the Netherlands (POP3).

For more information, download the publication Leidsche Rijn Luistert, Kunstenaars boeren, burgers en een nieuwbouwwijk.

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