This Teeming World.

This Teeming World is the first project of Foundation Glubbdubdrib1 and presents itself through seven library expeditions taking place at the natural history collection of the Artis Bibliotheek of the University of Amsterdam.


Tucked away behind its austere façade in the heart of the city, the Artis Library – teeming with unexpected treasures of natural life – is just waiting to be discovered. Together with invited visual artists, writers, musicians, performers, scientists and shamans Claire Weeda and Yeb Wiersma will rediscover, re-contextualize titles from the collection – bringing back movement into the static – and at the same time – with the audience – observe and discuss how the natural environment is being perceived, interpreted and conveyed in past and present.


The Library a Jungle
Expedition No. 1 (March 31)

On the first expedition Erik de Jong, professor of Culture, Landscape and Nature at the UvA and Artis Zoo, talked about the history of the Artis collection and the ‘Natura Artis Magistra’ Society. How did our relationship with nature transform over time, how was it mapped and shaped? In addition Erik de Jong guided us to the Zoo’s garden for a walk, where he spoke about the impact of movement (walking)2 in relation to the history of city parks as living books of nature, about straight and meandering trails. Visual artist Martin La Roche made a live onsite display, bringing together books3 and prints from the collection with found objects and stories and simultaneously actively involve the public by collective readings.


The Life and Times of A. Palulu
Expedition No. 2 (June 29)


What do we know about the Ampuku Palulu? And what can he teach us? For her book on Surinamese insects dating from 1705, German artist and entomologist Maria Sibylla Merian worked on a plantation in the interior of Suriname. She was the first researcher to sketch insects together with the plants that they feed on. This influential book could not have been realized without using the extensive knowledge of local Indians and African slaves. On our second expedition we will examine, under the guidance of ethnobotanist Tinde van Andel and Tropical ecologist Thiemo Heilbron4, what the Surinamese plant world can teach us today about our Surinamese and colonial memory, history and culture. How did knowledge of Surinamese plants evolve in the past? How were plants recognized, and how was the knowledge thereof disseminated? Are the medicinal and ritual properties of the plants from Merian’s time still known today? Sabrina Lisse Venetiaan and Jurman Blackson from Jursu Kultura will show us some dried plants from Suriname and tell us about their uses. Artist Lotte Geeven will take us on a journey in search of the source images of Merian’s Surinaams Insectenboek. During this evening she will unfold a speculative history of true magic and morphing images over time.


Expedition No.3
Deep Things out of Darkness


Expedition No. 4
The Order Of Things


Expedition No. 5
A Passion for Systems


Expedition No. 6
A Man of Misconceptions5


Expedition No. 7
Encyclopedia of Exploration


(The titles are taken from the book titles found at the Artis collection)


  1. Glubbdubdrib3The name Glubbdubdrib is derived from Jonathan Swift’s satire novel Gulliver’s Travels, representing the imaginary island of sorcerers and magicians. Glubbdubdrib aims to examine how artists and scientists culturally perceive, describe, interpret, depict, represent and shape the natural world around them and of which they are a part. To this end, it organizes field activities which focus on changing perceptions and interpretations of nature in past and present. All of the foundation’s activities start from the premise that knowledge sharing takes place through active participation, driven by critical thinking, curiosity, aesthetic enjoyment and pleasure.
  2. Walk through the Zoo’s artificial waterfall area.
  3. IMG_5576Martin La Roche opening an archival box with pencil drawings of the structures of sand grains.
  4. exp.2.thiemoheilbron300616_1Thiemo Heilbron introducing the Botanical Heritage of Surinam Project which he iniated. 
  5. ThisTeemingWorld_YebWiersma_7Scott Everduim (street dancer and educator) preparing his contribution for Expedition No.6: A Man of Misconceptions, 2016. All invited guests will visit the Artis collection beforehand searching for interesting titles, images and objects in order to connect these to their own field of expertise and interest. (Videostill and concept Yeb Wiersma)