Tumulus Ruchama Noorda

Hermit Hut II: Ruin

Jan '22

ruin- n-   late Old English, "act of giving way and falling down", from Latin ruina "a collapse, a rushing down, a tumbling down.”

- Online dictionary of etymology 


Ruchama at the Tumulus Hermit Hut II - Photo by Victoria Ushkanova Ruchama Noorda

In late November, the Tumulus hermit hut collapsed- the rammed earthbag roof caving in under the weight of the rain.

Ruchama immediately committed to rebuild, but she took this opportunity to rethink the design and the installation’s relation to the surrounding architecture. To stabilize the structure, she decided to use more resilient materials- moss-covered rocks and recycled construction debris: bricks, tiles, dockside paving stones, bits of her own ceramics broken in the collapse. 

The Mediamatic Biotope located by the Dijks canal close to Central Station sits on prime Dutch real estate. The Tumulus wild growth garden jammed up against the railway track is framed against the backdrop of a constantly evolving elevated skyline of sleek corporate towers and rectilinear office blocks. 

Patched together, Tumulus Hut II sits low on the ground: a readymade 21st century ruin equal parts romantic hermitage and abandoned squat. It is offered as a proposition taken out of time: both as a reminder of a shabbier, messier old Amsterdam, and as a pointer towards a possible alternative post-growth future.  The Tumulus ruin is an unguarded border checkpoint sited in the no man’s land between development and entropy, renewal, and decay where the visitor is invited to step back for a moment and reflect on how she got here and where to go to next?

The hut’s design is both a tribute in miniature to Louis Le Roy’s epic and ongoing Eco-Cathedral in Frisia (1) and the latest in a career-spanning series of works by Noorda referencing the grotto and the mother/goddess shrine (2). The entrance to the hut is shaped like an almond (Italian mandorla) or a vulva (Hindi yoni). The mouth of the cave/crypt (tumulus = burial mound) is a time-worn portal to the underworld, the mud beneath our feet: the place of openings and endings.

The artist would like to thank – Arthuur Simons, Bob Eisenberger, Henkie and Patrick van Ginkel - the team who worked for more than a week in December, 2021 on the rebuild.

  1. see http://www.spacesarchives.org/explore/search-the-online-collection/louis-le-roy-ecokathedraal-eco-cathedral/
  2. see http://www.ruchama.com/: The Profitable Art of Gardening [Mary Mandorla] Museum het Domein, Sittard (2003); Bel’s Pilgrimage, Marres, Limburg (2013); Hortus Conclusus, Marfa, Texas (2013); Circadian Power Plant, Nest, The Hague (2021)].