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#28 Talent Wall

Speaking: Fieke van Berkom

Self portrait Fieke van Berkom, Alma de Tierra, Mexico.

Fieke van Berkom uses her presentation on the Talent Wall for an action. With the sale of her work, Van Berkom finances new projects, with which she focuses on "awareness with regard to our use of the earth and its waters". She is now working hard in Mexico, of which she reports in this blog.

What preceded it:

Fieke van Berkom (1982) graduated from AKV|St. Joost in Breda in 2007. Since then she has regularly traveled for self-initiated projects that she carries out without a subsidy. Her projects are often about ‘alternative systems’. For example, she visited a prison colony, Iwahig, in the Philippines that is only naturally bordered by mountains and a river. Strangely enough, nobody escapes and there is no violence. It is a peaceful, self-sufficient community where prisoners are allowed to live with their families to prevent families being torn apart. She also visited the largest prison in Mexico City where yoga classes are offered to the men.

Presentation at Preview in 2018.

In Detroit she investigated the social consequences of the credit crisis. With her camera, she documented initiatives developed by the population there, such as a large food bank, allotments and a recycling center. During the exhibition Preview at Pennings Foundation in 2018, she made an installation of this series.


She is currently staying in Yucatan (near the city of Mérida) in Mexico where she works for a while in a self-sufficient community. The community is run by young Mexicans who opt for a lifestyle in accordance with nature. There is a vegetable and herb garden and houses are built from natural materials. “A small group of people live and work here according to the principles of permaculture. They started five years ago and they regularly receive volunteers from all over the world. The project is called Alma de Tierra, which means ‘soul of the earth’."

Alma de Tierra. A lot of time is spent in the shared 'living' kitchen. photo Fieke van Berkom

"Vegetables, fruit and herbs are grown and harvested and with that food and drinks are made, such as beer, soft drinks, tortillas. They are also skilled in fermenting, such as making sauerkraut and salsa sauces. A lot is recycled, because that is part of the principles of permaculture. Permaculture is sustainable agriculture with a 0% waste policy. Plastic packaging is not welcome on the premises. It turns out to be difficult to eliminate that altogether, but the most important thing, of course, is to create an awareness process with regard to the way we use materials.”

photos Fieke van Berkom

In Mexico, Fieke also plans to cooperate in restoring Chinampas, floating gardens in a lake in Mexico City. This system of floating gardens was developed by the Aztecs and still proofs to be a successful farming method. Ideal for areas where both soil and water are scarce. However, the gardens are seriously affected by pollution and neglect.

Fieke van Berkom does not make a quick photo report on a subject. That is not her style. It is precisely by working as a volunteer for weeks that she gets to know the organizations from the inside. And that involvement, that personal contact and familiarity with people is reflected in her photos.

Fieke van Berkom at the opening. photo Hetty de Groot

She made a selection from a number of projects for the Talent Wall. But in addition to this documentary work, she shows another side of her artistry with humorous images. That's how she made a series of trees. But are they really trees? One turns out to be a mast ... In objects and in architecture she discovered faces. And the image of the crooked man on a wall turns out to be a puddle of a dog. It makes an artist to notice this.

The Talent Wall with Fieke's documentary photo's on the left and her art work on the right. photo Hetty de Groot

The work of Fieke van Berkom is on show until March 22, 2020.

Curious about her other work?

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