The Moeraske (little swamp, endearingly translated – maintained by Cebe) is a nature reserve, next to the traintracks in Schaarbeek, Brussels. It became a semi-natural reserve and safe haven for wildlife by accident, as it was a neglected storm basin for years. With the real estate speculation booming in Brussels, some dark clouds may cover this free zone of nature, small swamps, rare birds, trains and air planes flying over. To show the fragility of this space, PleinOpenAir was organized there in 2003 (PleinOpenAir according to organizers Nova: “[…] One notable project one of Nova’s first was to create a tradition free open air cinema. But with a twist: to project each screening in a different prospective construction site (of which Brussel is rife), a road show that brings this abandoned land back to the people as well as allowing them watch decent free films.”
Up to now, the Walckiers park next to Moeraske is still not officially recognized as a nature reserve – so its situation is still precarious. Also, what sould happen to the nature reserve when the Schaarbeek Vorming/Formation mutates from empty railtracks resembling the tundra to a large sire development full of cars and humans.
In the spirit of the Moeraske and PleinOpenAir, I interviewed several Moeraske enthousiasts, from a woman walking her dog in the nature reserve to two nature specialists who can distinguish the Acrocephalus palustris Sylviidae (Rousserolle verderolle – Bosrietzanger) from the Acrocephalus scirpaceus Sylviidae (Rousserolle effarvatte – Kleine karekiet). The other sounds were recorded in the nature reserve itself and were kept, transformed or layered in the final edit. The audio was then played live in Moeraske together with a photographic impression of the place made by the photographers collective Blowup which was projected on the open air cinema screen.
Interesting to hear that in 2019, 16 years later, 95% of the information is still correct (apart from the fast train plans…). Especially the part about biodiversity and keeping places wild and non-accessible for humans is very relevant..