The Amstelpark was built for the 1972 Floriade gardening exhibition and aimed to promote the horticulture industry. At the time, the Floriade was conceived as a popular attraction but there was also criticism, for example by the action group 'De lastige Amsterdammer' (The Troublesome Amsterdammer), who described the exhibition as "Poen-Groen (Green Money) behind a fence on the edge of a city that is uninhabitable to many". They believed that the subsidy (5 million guilders) could have been used differently, for example by improving the livability of the city center. It was a criticism that reflected the changing spirit of the times. The sixties and seventies were characterized by an increasing awareness for the environment and the problem of pollution, which was fueled by the alarming report of the Club of Rome, 'The Limits to Growth' from 1972. In that same year at the Floriade, little attention was paid to this new environmental awareness. Instead, a more conservative approach was preferred.
Much has changed since the hype of the Floriade, but some of the aspects are still characteristic for the Amstelpark; which closes at night, protected by a fence, to preserve its vulnerable archaic landscape from outside hazards. Cycling is not allowed and the supervision of the park rangers ensure that nobody leaves the beaten path. The management is taken so seriously that artists that want to work in the park are forbidden to attach objects on the ground or on trees. The entire park is protected as if it is a rare object in a museum. The project 'Growing Resistance' temporarily disrupts this false sense of security, by allowing a fictitious threat, in the form of an urban development for which all trees need to be cut. In this apocalyptic scenario, a protest is organized by local residents and other stakeholders. The idea is to make a documentary of what this would look like, based on actions against large-scale deforestation and local tree felling in the Netherlands during the last 50 years.
The reenactments will be performed in collaboration with a local theater group at different locations throughout the park. Prior to the production of the film, an archive will be made of the many protest actions that took place in the Netherlands in recent years. This extensive collection will serve as source material for the staged situations. On the basis of interviews (mostly from regional television stations) the script will be compiled in which the found footage is reconstructed word by word.
'Growing Resistance' is a visual investigation into the aesthetics of protest throughout the years; from small improvised actions of emotional citizens to large and well-orchestrated manifestations of political parties. The felling of trees seem to have become a hot topic in provincial and municipal politics. The threatened tree as a political subject works as a catalyst for the anxiety of the angry citizen in a rapidly changing world, where climate change is often a rather abstract and invisible phenomenon, while a tree offers a tangible link with the (endangered) natural world.