“(…) it is meaningless to imagine any happening without reference
to a locality. Place is evidently an integral part of existence.’”

– Christian Norberg – Schulz, from: Genius Loci,
Towards a Phenomenology of Architecture, 1980


ORANDA LOCI is the new OTANI NIEUWENHUIZE project. It deals about the influence of the historic relationship between the Netherlands and Japan on the cultural landscape of Kyushu, Japan.

We understand places by visually scanning space, capture fragments of it and mentally connect the dots. In this way we get a sense of the so called genius loci, the spirit of the place.
 How can we understand the surroundings of Ukiha and Kyushu, a region which has had great historical importance for the relationship between Japan and the Netherlands. How do we grasp its landscape or its culture? How can we read its genius loci?

One thing which had a large impact on the cultural landscape of Japan and more specifically, Kyushu, is the relationship of Japan with the Netherlands. Between 1641 and 1859 the Dutch were the sole Westerners with trade access to Japan. The Dutch brought different kinds of goods to Japan for the first time, like photography, badminton, billiards, beer, coffee, the piano. Also a wide range of Japanese words find their origin in Dutch ones, like otenba (tomboy), seimi (chemistry) or porudā (polder).

Artist duo OTANI NIEUWENHUIZE is interested in aspects of the Japanese cultural landscape that were influenced by the Dutch. Things that are now being experienced as authentic Japanese are in its essence Dutch. Would this be where we find common ground, where two cultures meet, understand each other?
ORANDA LOCI is one way of looking for this common ground.

The project is the result of an artist in residence period in Ukiha on Kyushu, Japan in April and May 2019. ORANDA LOCI is made possible by Ukiha City, Mondriaan Fund, The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Tokyo, Panasonic Lumix and The Shareholders.


Photos below: installation views work in progress presentation, Ukiha, Japan, 2019 / ORANDA LOCI – brick. Work in progress, 2019 / ORANDA LOCI – coffee. Work in progress, 2019