Exploring the Wageningen Night Like a Bat - Night walk with Marjolijn van Heemstra & Kamiel Spoelstra

“What it’s like to be a bat?”, the philosopher Thomas Nagel famously asked. How do you orient in space, if your main sense is the one of echolocation? What do you see, if you cannot make use of your eyes? And also: what mysteries and insights has the pitch-dark night to offer, if we steer away from the dominance of our sight? At the same time, it is the night that is increasingly polluted by the artificial light of our cities and green houses, especially in The Netherlands. What do we lose, if we lose the night? Find out for yourself on this special walk through the darkest spots of Wageningen forest surroundings. Guided by animal ecologist Kamiel Spoelstra (NIOO-KNAW), whose research focuses on the impact of light pollution in forest-edged areas, and who regularly guides bat tours; and theatre maker, novelist and essayist Marjolijn van Heemstra who initiated the Night Walks in the city forest of Amsterdam, and published widely on travelling through space and the ecological, existential and cultural importance of the night. They will be joined by nature guide Wim Braakhekke of Renkums Beekdal.

Location & Time: we gather at Terrace, Impulse at 21.30hrs and cycle from there to the location in the forest surroundings of Wageningen.

Duration of the walk: 1,5-2hrs.
You will receive more information and instructions by email when you buy a ticket and register for this event.

The number of participants for this Night Walk is limited, so make sure you register and purchase your ticket for this performance on time. Tickets will be on presale at the main Hall of Forum, during the lunch breaks between the 11th and 18th of May, and will be sold at the Festival (if still available).

About Kamiel Spoelstra

Kamiel Spoelstra studied biology in Wageningen and graduated in the field of Chronobiology at the University of Groningen. Since 10 years, he works for the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW). He is interested in the impact of light on our natural environment: how do organisms around us adapt their daily rhythms (or, better said for many species, nightly rhythms...) to the natural light-dark cycle? And how are these rhythms – and the life of different species more generally – transformed by light pollution at night? In his research, he focuses on measuring and visualizing the behavior of nocturnal species.

About Marjolijn van Heemstra

Marjolijn van Heemstra (photo: Frank de Ruiter)
Marjolijn van Heemstra (photo: Frank de Ruiter)

Marjolijn van Heemstra studied theology, intending to become a conflict mediator. Instead, she turned to theatre, and, currently, she works as a poet, writer, theatre maker, journalist and podcast maker. Her volumes of poetry and her novels won her several literary prizes and her last novel was translated into eight different languages.

Since 2019, Van Heemstra works as a journalist for Dutch online platform De Correspondent, where she investigates how space might help us to take on a different perspective to Earth. She recently published her non-fiction book (in Dutch) In lichtjaren heeft niemand haast.

In her podcasts (Sør (2018), Stadsastronaut (2019), De Binnenbühne (2020)), she takes her listeners along on her explorations. Her theatre shows (Voyagers (2020), Lawrence of Arabia (2019), Stadsastronaut (2019)) are poetic, personal and full of engagement. She usually writes and performs herself, and at times invites non-professionals to join her on stage. By combining activism with nuanced thinking, she provides insight into her own research, and investigates in an accessible manner how we can think differently about ourselves, and the world.

Since this year, Van Heemstra focuses on her new project De Nacht-Wacht, in which she combines ecology, poetry and neighborhood stories. Together with a group of neighbors, Van Heemstra visits the darkest spot in Amsterdam and explores what the loss of nocturnal darkness means for our society as well as for our ecosystem. In 2022, the show resulting from this project will go on tour.