Dutch Crater On Hold
Polder Bombing Suspended


591 Potential crater area, Holland. CLUI photo by Erik Knutzen

A PROJECT TO DEVELOP A bombing crater in the Dutch landscape is currently on hold, though it may be stalled indefinitely. “We’re not really worried about it. It’ll happen or it won’t,” said CLUI European Projects Manager Erik Knutzen, “either way it’s a win-win situation for everyone.”

The project started a few years ago, when the Center was contacted by a Dutch art organization, one that has commissioned some major contemporary earthworks in the past, and asked to develop possibilities for its regional landscape. A committee to consider the proposal was formed, and the crater concept was finally supported by the majority.

While the Center would have to subcontract out the creation of an authored “earthwork,” as an institution that deals with interpretation and documentation the Center could explore the notion of creating a documentary form on the ground that could be viewed and considered by the public.

The proposal the CLUI submitted to the organization in Holland involved the creation of a 10-20 meter wide crater, formed by an act of aerial bombing. It was suggested that a flat, open, undeveloped, grassy region, be selected, and an area of approximately 100 meters by 100 meters designated as a target area for the project. The project would have two phases: first the creation of the target zone, then the formation of the landform.

The proposal was favorably considered by the Dutch, and a representative of the Center was dispatched to Holland to meet with the organization’s directors, deliver a presentation about the project, and to tour possible locations for the project to occur.

At the various meetings, all seemed to go well. The project, once properly explained, was received with enthusiasm. A group set out to survey the region, scouting possible sites. Several possibilities presented themselves, including, surprisingly, some developed areas that could be evacuated, as well as uninhabited farmland.

In order to form a budget and a timeline, research was begun on procuring a bomb of an appropriate magnitude (in order to create a crater of the desired size), and arranging different delivery scenarios. Contacts at a NATO practice range on the coast were sought, and aircraft charter opportunities pursued. The project seemed to be developing smoothly.

Months after the visit to Holland, a letter came with apologies. The project, as well as all other projects planned by the organization, would have to cease, as the organization’s funding from the state had fallen through, due to general cutbacks for cultural programming across the board.

While some at the CLUI suggested that alternate funding sources could be sought from within the United States, it was decided to let the matter stand, for now. “We’re not going to do it if they don’t want us to,” said Knutzen, “they have to want it to happen. That’s part of the point.”