Nordsjøen Dike

Veerle van Herk
Practice Social Practices
Project Honours/Visual Culture
Major Illustration
Year Fourth Year

Nominee: Bachelor Research Award & Drempelprijs Social Practices 2020

A 600 km long dike that encloses the North Sea to protect our small country from the rising sea levels. In February 2020 the Dutch Oceanographer Sjoerd Groeskamp published his plan for the so-called "Northern European Enclosure Dam" (NEED) in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, a leading scientific journal. According to Groeskamp, this largest engineering project ever is a realistic final solution for if our climate mitigation fails.


Sketch for scene 3, Deformation measurement


For illustrator Veerle van Herk, this plan forms the ultimate example of the engineerable world we live in. From her research into the human urge for control, sea-level rise and the limits of constructability, she developed the short film ‘Nordsjøen dike’ in which the story of the North Sea Dam is depicted. What if the Netherlands really starts building this dike?


Sketch for scene 7, The disclosure of the statue


What if the North Sea becomes a lake? By mixing fact and fiction, Veerle creates possible future scenarios. Through the eyes of a Norwegian storyteller, we see how the Netherlands starts with an immense project.


Film still scene 1


With her strongly framed and absurdist observations, Veerle tries to open the important conversation about the future of the Netherlands in relation to sea-level rise. Are we looking at a sincere plan B? Or have we reached the limits of constructability?


Sketch for scene 5, Climate activists