Professor of Aquatic Ecology Marten Scheffer and Danish artist Vagn Iversen have jointly designed a large artwork entitled Must Leave. The idea is that it will rise up out of the Forum pond.
The plan is to have a water beetle with a wingspan of five metres in the Forum pond. Photo Vang Iversen
The huge yellow-edged water beetle, on the point of flying off, will have a wingspan of over five metres. It will light up in the dark through a combination of lighting that uses solar energy and light-emitting fibres and minerals.
A crowdfunding campaign is due to start this month to find the remaining financing.
Scheffer first saw works by Iversen in 1993 in Denmark’s AQUA Aquarium & Zoo in Silkeborg. He was impressed by the artist’s massive water creatures. ‘I’ve spent hours studying water creatures with a magnifying glass. In Silkeborg, those creatures were suddenly huge and bursting into space. That surprises and disorients you, like a painting or a book can do.’ Because he thinks such a sculpture can be a good symbol for WUR and because the organization will be celebrating its centenary in 2018, Scheffer decided to contact Iversen. ‘I want everyone on Wageningen Campus to experience that shock effect.’
The artwork’s symbolism operates at different levels, explains Scheffer. For instance, Darwin worked out why you find the same freshwater creatures all over the world: sooner or later a pool dries out and the animals have to move on. In the same way, students and knowledge also spread across the world. He also sees connections with human migration. That creates tensions, but sparks off innovation too.
Once the water beetle is there, Scheffer wants people to take lots of photos, share them on social media and then look for the underlying message. ‘So that this message travels the world over.’