Kraak: encounters with mythical sea creatures

The production house Spinbarg lets an old sea myth speak. De Kraak speaks in a theatrical video installation in Pieterburen Sælcenter this summer and tells old and new stories about the relationship between man and the sea.

Sometimes loving, sudden momentum, so harmonious and suddenly ominous. The relationship between the Wadden Sea and the people who live there is as changeable as the sea itself, and that is exactly what inspired the video makers in Groningen production house Spinbarg for their latest project: De Kraak, which can be seen from the end. next week in Sælcenter Pieterburen.

Animation film

In the spatial installation, a mythical giant octopus takes the floor and guides visitors through an abstract shell landscape where ten vastly different animated films are shown. Various (northern) filmmakers, including René Adema and Christa Moesker, talk about encounters between humans and underwater creatures. These are both old and new stories about the tension between humans and nature.

The installation is housed in a small, blue shed on the Seal Center’s grounds, where, according to spokeswoman Eveline de Smalen, in recent years attention has not only been drawn to the welfare of seals, but is increasingly also in favor of sustainability and ‘a healthy Wadden Sea’. . That’s why De Kraak fits so well, she says. “This art project encourages you to think about the relationship between people and their environment.”

rustling sea

Ten canvases on which the artist’s film can be seen are adorned in ten wooden ‘shells’. The multimedia installation is trilingual – the story is also told in English and German. Meanwhile, the sea rattles through the room, a soundscape created by Tristan Visser.

Margriet Westerhof is the artistic director of Spinbarg, a production house that aims to stimulate the imagination and make people look at the environment with different eyes. According to Westerhof, who has collected the ten old folk tales together with the video maker Pauline Los, these stories can teach us a lot about the world we live in. Countless prophecies and warnings are made in the old myths (A herring in the rain barrel? The dike is about to burst !). The stories make it clear what happens when those warnings are ignored – then it usually goes wrong. “De Kraak presents these stories again to at least for a moment restore the contact between man and nature.” The creators are not gloomy, but they are worried. “A lot of good things are happening to restore contact with nature.”

Intense and dreamy

The ten films are tantalizing and use different animation techniques – the mood varies from adventurous dreamy to intense and almost gothic. “We are all connected through water,” Los learned during his research. “The stories also show again and again that what you do makes a difference to the world.” The creators have taken care not to enter the project with a raised finger, but a little morality has crept into it – all that you are. “Still, above all, it must be a great fantasy,” says Westerhof.

The island full of children

Los discovered interesting parallels, for example, she found out that many wading stories are about people fishing their children out of the water – from Urk to far out in Denmark, such legends can be found. In Friesland you ask the Stenen man for a baby, in Groningen you just fish them up from Dollard and off the German wadden coast lies a mythical island full of children waiting for parents. “The ocean is deeply connected to our lives and to our history, to our whole being.”

De Kraak: Seal Center Pieterburen. From 16 July to 18 September. The installation then travels by ship and calls at Dokkum, Leeuwarden, Harlingen, Zwolle, Texel (Ecomare) and Germany, among others. By 2025, it hopes to add to the yet-to-be-built World Heritage Center near Lauwersoog. The seal center is also moving there. More information and a small taste at:

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