Berlin's Covered History

When asked by DordtYart* to develop a project connected to the location, it is not surprising, considering her background, place of residence and previous and current projects, that Anja de Jong almost automatically chooses to delve into the history of the island of Dordrecht, to discover how its people have dealt with water through the ages. She comes upon the fascinating story of the ‘Grote- of Zuid-Hollandse Waard’ (Great or South Holland Polder): early delta water control works covering 42,500 hectares, that disappeared in the Saint Elisabeth flood. Anja goes on a photographic quest to locations of villages drowned in the 15th century Saint Elisabeth flood of the Great or South Holland Polder on and around the island of Dordrecht.

The word ‘submersa’ appears in the few written sources that confirm the former existence of the vanished villages in the Great Polder, namely the church accounts of the bishoprics of Luik (Lieges) and Utrecht in which these villages lay. When no more money was forthcoming from these parishes, they were marked in the books as ‘submersa’.

*DordtYart is an international centre for contemporary art, housed in the machine hall of the former dockyard ‘De Biesbosch’ in Dordrecht, The Netherlands.