Browse Category: Fiction is the breath of reality

Visualising the desire to change the unthinkable.

Demon on off

This light-piece is adding drama to the implicit and restrained art deco style of the Sainctelette bridge between Molenbeek and the center of Brussels. The general lighting of the whole bridge is quite sober. The four demon faces on the inner side of the bridges pillars are lit from below which creates an eery atmosphere, but rather of the cliché kind. One of the faces is now lit in a fast paste tempo that puts some nervous spice in the bridge’s nightly existence.

The work is on view since 2014. I still need to work on installing a sign with motivation, background info and credits.

Demon relief in context of the bridge pillar and surroundings.

Metal box containing light fittings

In 2009, when the general LED lighting was provided, Phillips together with Brussels minister for mobility and public works Pascal Smets were proud to announce on the Phillips Newscenter website that the electricity consumption of the new LEDs was “less then the consumption of three vacuum cleaners”.
(In case the site is down or no longer available, I pasted that news in a PDF file which you can read here.)

The information panel next to the bridge reads:

Sainctelette square takes its name from Charles Xavier Sainctelette (1825 – 1898), a liberal politician, an industrialist who was linked to coal merchants in Hainaut and a staunch defender of the Port of Brussels. It dominates the junction between the Willebroek Canal (16th century) and the Chareleroi Canal (1832), two waterways that are complementary but that have distinct histories.

The bridge was built in 1934 by the architect Victor Rogister, and is framed by four large idealised human figures made from blue stone by the sculptor Ernest Wijnants. They are in the Art Deco style, thereby demonstrating one of the styles showcased during the Brussels International exhibition of 1935.

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The central theme of the world exhibition was colonisation and the 50th birthday of Congo-Freestate. (the Belgian colony) The style of the bridge is very much in keeping with that of the Exhibition Palace on the Heysel, or even the Basilic of Koekelberg which is further up the road. Typical projects built with money from the colonies.

Smiling protest

There is no category old news on this blog, but this image would definitely qualify: found stuck in between pages of a two year old agenda.
Depicted is a loose protest in Mexico -city against the outcome of the elections in august 2006, supporters of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador demanded a re-counting of the votes. They surrounded three big foreign banks, claiming that they “ransack the country” and “widen the barrier between rich and poor” and because, supposedly, these banks had participated in the politics of the country supporting the PAN candidate Felipe Calderón. The protestors put up banners with the text ‘Smile!’

International Ritual Train

International train Rotterdam – Brussels
Transcripted from a daydream, 17-3-2006

Green dress, mobile phone squeezed between shoulder and cheek, staring in the distance.
“I am telling you: if we develop a sufficiently powerful theory on the micro-level, it will unlock secrets of large scale macrosociological changes as well .. Yes call me old fashioned … call me anything you like”
“Hallo mevrouw, vervoersbewijs alsjeblieft”
She tries to wave off the train conductor who is asking to see her ticket.
“I don’t know .. I just moved to Belgium, but as soon as we arrive we will find out .. ”
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Metropolitan representations

This article about the political reality behind murals in Los Angeles was published in 2001 in the architectural magazine Archis. It presents excerpts from a report I wrote during a working period in Los Angeles. How can public art which represents common believes be critical towards ruling ideologies, be of importance to constructing collective identity without compromising to governemental or institutional norms, in what way do prominently outspoken political viewpoints, accesibility, legibility and popular and traditional iconography relate to each other? And in what way do these works represent the people who live amongst them, day in day out?
The text is a bit rusty and dated, but I thought it would be good to include it in this blog, because some of the issues which are touched upon could be revived in thinking about ways of working on public project in Brussels. In stead of relating these questions only to wallpaintings as in this article, it would be interesting to think about the possibility of transposing them to virtual forms of public representations, and try to figure out if the power and straightforwardness of the positioning of political works in urban neighbourhoods could be carried futher in virtual circumstances. Continue Reading