Wouter Osterholt


Dutch artist Wouter Osterholt’s work often re-contextualises existing material such as buildings, monuments, sculptures, rituals or archival material to manifest fault lines and breaking points in our political landscape, where social injustice, conflicts or problems come to light.

During his residency at The White House in Dagenham, Osterholt will explore the utopian origins of the garden city movement and the Becontree Estate, with the aim of creating an Ideological Travel Guide to Becontree. He will be kicking off his residency with a study week at the house inviting local Councillors, historians, architects, activists and experts to discuss the utopian origins of the estate.

“Within the context of the Becontree Estate I am primarily interested in the ideological foundations of the garden city movement of Ebenezer Howard and how its physical virtues were ‘fetishized’ at the expense of its social goals. My main objective for the residency is to find a way to experiment with the radical potential of the original movement. In recent years, it has become clear that Britain’s housing situation is in a deep crisis, compounded by a political crisis and new global pressures from climate change and immigration. This is a timely moment to rediscover and re-imagine the garden city principles and the benefits of establishing sustainable and socially just communities.” – Wouter Osterholt

Photos by Sophie Chapman