Category Archives: Exhibitions

2050. A Brief History of The Future

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Exhibition: 2050. A Brief History of The Future
Opening: 11/09/2015
Open: 11/09/2015 – 24/01/2016
Location: The Royal Museums of Fine Arts, Regentschapsstraat 3 Rue de la Régence, 1000 Brussels, Belgium
Curators: Pierre-Yves Desaive, Jennifer Beauloye, Jean De Loisy, Jacques Attali


The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium and the Louvre Museum come together to present an ambitious and innovative project inspired by Jacques Attali’s essay A Brief History of the Future. The two independent yet complementary exhibitions are articulated around the same questioning. By interrogating the future – at the Louvre by an observation of the past, in Brussels by a prospective approach – they analyse the great dynamics that cross and animate societies, from their origins up to the horizon of 2050.

The exhibition at the Louvre aims to project itself into the future based on a subjectivereading of the past, pictured and shaped by the artistic creations from the previous millennia. On their side, the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium hinge on the topicality of current artistic creations in order to question a series of societal themes – from globalisation to the commodification of time, from over-consumption to the well-being of the planet.  Through these artworks that transcend the big societal questions, the visitors are invited to reflect on the future they are supposed to shape.

With: Hiroshi Sugimoto, Alighiero Boetti, Bodys Isek Kingelez, Andy Warhol, David LaChapelle, Andreas Gursky, Hans Op de Beeck, Yang Yongliang, Gavin Turk, Francis Alÿs, et al.

Rumors of the Meteor

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Exhibition: Rumors of the Meteor at Frac Lorraine, Metz, France
Opening: 16/10/2014 at 7 pm
Open: 17/10/2014 – 11/01/2015
Location: FRAC Lorraine, 1bis Rue des Trinitaires, 57000 Metz, France
Curator: Béatrice Josse

Maarten Vanden Eynde - Plastic Reef -Frac-web

With: A. Aycock, A. Barrios, I. Bonillas, L. Camnitzer,  J. Chicago, L. Echakhch, M. Vanden Eynde, P. de Fenoyl, Y. Friedman,  D. Ghesquière, L. Ghirri, J. Grossmann, J. Hilliard, J. Jonas,   M. Laet, B & M. Leisgen, R. L. Misrach, F. Nakaya, J. Luzoir,   K. Paterson, G. Pettena, J. Pfahl, R. Signer, R. Zaugg.

Does the Meteor bring good tidings? There is no day, no daily news, no radio station that doesn’t bring us the weather report. The wind eternally plays with the clouds, the sun with the moon, while the rain trit-trots with the hail. The addiction to weather reports is said to be particularly widespread in the West, where the temperate climate compels us to revisit the forecast several times a day. Whether this is simply a game or real existential angst, there is no doubt that climate exerts a considerable influence on our behavior.

The Rumors of the Meteor (from the Greek metéōros [μετέωρος], meaning “raised above”) thus seems to augur the coming of new climates without anyone being able to predict the exact consequences. Unlike the scientific certainties of the modern age, the tidings of the Meteor are confusing, unpredictable, and chaotic…

This exhibition revisits the vague and rather Eurocentric Theory of Climates, and reveals the uncertainties of the Anthropocene Era. The featured works are, by extension, also open-ended, mobile, and plural. Reactivations, interpretations, and reinventions, these works break with the rule of unity and veracity. Let’s open our imagination to the sensation of the wind, of snow, and the aridity of the desert!

Beyond Earth Art

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Exhibition: Beyond Earth Art at Johnson Museum of Art, Ithaca, NY, US
Opening preview: 25/02/2014
Open: 25/02 – 08/06/2014
Location: 114 Central Avenue, Ithaca, NY 14853, US

Maarten Vanden Eynde - Plastic Reef - beyond earth art

With: Ansel Adams, Adam Cvijanovic, Olafur Eliasson, Noriko Furunishi, Chris Jordan, Edward Burtynsky, Agnes Denes, Mark Dion, Chris Doyle, David LaChapelle, Maya Lin, Ana Mendieta, Robert Morris, Dennis Oppenheim,  Allan Sekula, Robert Smithson, Alan Sonfist, Michelle Stuart, Maarten Vanden Eynde, Marion Wilson, ea.

In 1969 the legendary Earth Art exhibition took place at Cornell University. A new kind of exhibition, curated by Willoughby Sharp, it presented site-specific installations by nine international artists, scattered around the Cornell campus and the surrounding Ithaca landscape. Responding in part to consumerism, mass media, and the insularity of art in the late 1960s, these installations were also shown in the context of a developing international environmental movement.

It is at this intersection—where art meets life—that the influence of the 1960s earth artists has perhaps had the most significant impact on a current generation of artists working on issues related to the environment and sustainability. With metaphor, humor, and direct action, artists are able to represent ideas and reveal patterns often hidden beneath the surface by merging rational observation with beauty, creativity, and inspiration.

Comprising separate installations and exhibitions that address issues related to the representation of landscape, water supply, food justice, recycling, fair distribution of natural resources, and the nature/culture divide, beyond earth art • contemporary artists and the environment is on view in all of the Johnson Museum’s temporary exhibition galleries and lobbies, as well as outside the Museum on the façade and grounds. The work included operates in the gap between the objectivity of scientific data and the subjectivity of creative expression, signaling the interconnectedness of the themes addressed.

Maarten Vanden Eynde - 1000 Miles Away from home - beyond earth art

Maarten Vanden Eynde - Plastic Reef2 - beyond earth art


Yes Naturally

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Exhibition: Plastic Reef at ‘Ja Natuurlijk’, GEM/Gemeentemuseum, Den Haag, NL
Opening preview: 14/03/2013
Open: 15/03 – 16/08/2013
Location: GEM, Stadhouderslaan 41, 2517 HV Den Haag, The Netherlands

Yes Naturally is an international art event initiated by Stichting Niet Normaal under the artistic direction of Ine Gevers. The key question in Yes Naturally is ‘What is natural, and who or what decides?’ Are human beings the only ones to have a say or do animals, plants and inanimate objects also have a role to play?

The exhibition will offer a thrilling tour of the natural world, including both clichéd images of romantic landscapes with waterfalls and the hard and inescapable facts of environmental degradation. It will wake us up to the reality of oil slicks and genetically modified fish, but suggest that solutions to environmental problems can be found if we are prepared to change our habits: through recycling and new kinds of cooperation we can save the planet. Artists will propose new and unconventional approaches. The exhibition will include work by Francis Alÿs, Jimmie Durham, Olafur Eliasson, Atelier van Lieshout, Zeger Reyers, Superflex, Ai Weiwei and others.

More than 80 artists will use this grand-scale exhibition to present surprising partnerships between humans, nature and technology. The results are both liberating and hilarious: you can design your own pet, fungi turn out to be our best friends, you can harvest the city and seagulls are quite tasty on the barbeque. But also: your smartphone is your memory, Facebook is your habitat, internet the new biotope and nanoparticles have become an integral part of our existence.


The Age of Plastic

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‘Plastic Reef’ at Hordaland Art Center, Bergen, Norway
Opening: 11/01/2013 at 21:00
Open: 12/01 – 10/03/2013

HORDALAND ART CENTRE based in Bergen, Norway was established 1976 as the first artist run art centre in Norway. Its activities are based around the exhibition programme with equal emphasis on seminars, presentations and dialogue. Since 1987 HORDALAND ART CENTRE has hosted a Nordic residency programme, from 2008 also open to international artists, curators, writers and other art professionals.

Nav Haq wrote a text for the exhibition.

The Age of Plastic and After

It is the first magical substance which consents to be prosaic. But it is precisely because this prosaic character is a triumphant reason for its existence: for the first time, artifice aims at something common, not rare. And as an immediate consequence, the age-old function of nature is modified: it is no longer the Idea, the pure Substance to be regained or imitated: an artificial Matter, more bountiful than all the natural deposits, is about to replace her, and to determine the very invention of forms. A luxurious object is still of this earth, it still recalls, albeit in a precious mode, its mineral or animal origin, the natural theme of which it is but one actualization. Plastic is wholly swallowed up in the fact of being used: ultimately, objects will be invented for the sole pleasure of using them. The hierarchy of substances is abolished: a single one replaces them all: the whole world can be plasticized, and even life itself since, we are told, they are beginning to make plastic aortas.

– Roland Barthes, from ‘Plastics’, in Mythologies, 1957

There was little regards for the lifecycle of plastic, as the zenith of the Plastic Era occurred in the period known as the twentieth century – after the era of objects fashioned directly out of natural materials, and before the era of objects designed to be a Spime. Plastic seemed to have embodied the modern egalitarian dream by transforming something taken from nature into a myriad of possible objects for the everyday. Its invention proffered a sort of alchemy, forming infinite derivatives to match the aspirations of the twentieth century, with its technological advancements and its diversification of lifestyles. Its profound rise meant the uses of plastic entered every aspect of life in a celebration of its own prosaic, mechanically-reproduced abundance. The very idea of its own artifice was embraced somewhat reflexively in culture, and even the term ‘plastic arts’ was adopted simultaneously as a moniker for the art of the day.

The question remains as to why exactly human subjects returned plastic to the sea. At that time the material did not degrade and remained permanently in the ocean, creating a toxic floating landmass. Born of the petroleum that was formed from the plankton that emerged in the Earth’s primordial sea, the return of plastic polymers to the ocean was nothing other than an aberration. This ‘return’ to the ocean was ultimately an act against the idea of a lifecycle, as there was nothing to digest or transform it into something organic. It was as if simply removing it out of the sight of culture, and into the realms of the unknown, was enough. It was only after this point that the lifecycle of manufactured objects became a design issue. The Spime was conceptualised at the beginning of the twenty-first century by the renowned science-fiction writer and design theorist Bruce Sterling. It comprised a progressive vision towards the kind of object that can be tracked throughout its whole life and through space and time. [1] Objects could be traced from the point of their first virtual representation, to their manufacture, their subsequent ownership history, their physical location, right through to their eventual obsolescence and decomposition to raw material, ready to be used for making a new object. Objects were created to be recorded and archived in real time, thus being traceable at any given moment. ‘Things’ were never the same again.

The development of the Spime marked the acknowledgement of the new Human-Centred approach to design, and the new status given to objects in term of their use, meaning and value that followed brought us into the next age. From then on, all items were classified into two grand categories: 1) Human-Centred, those objects within the frame of human design and reference, and 2) Object-Centred, those objects that had their own existence outside of human acknowledgement or legitimation, within the realm of nature and the universe. [2] The Human-Centred acknowledgement of the existence of objects became an evolutionary design understanding. It was a revolutionary paradigm shift that required us to move away from the disregard of total object lifecycles towards the design of total object lifecycles. Human-Centric design would be tested against its effects on the Non-Human-Centric sphere.

Yet in the timeline of humanity it was the age of plastic that had the biggest effect on the Non-Human object world. The over-abundance of plastic objects was created in a context of non-acknowledgement towards the world outside of the human sphere. The oceans in particular being the ultimate place, furthest away from civilisation, that became the dark abyss for everything humanity wanted to discard. Giant concentrated masses of marine litter outweighing natural plankton many times over. Through a cruel irony, its molecular structure meant its brittleness would cause it to photo-degrade into fine grain-like pieces, much of them sinking, much of them floating, entering the food chain by being unwittingly digested by sea life. There were only rare instances in which this existing plastic would get collected and reused, such as by modest but well-meaning eco initiatives or businesses, and even by investigative artists – literally for ‘plastic art’.

The great paradigm shift, in its essence, was verbalised in an accord that stated that for a truly symbiotic existence between humanity and the universe, it was essential that things needed to exist and flourish outside of human knowledge and interference. It was also clear at this point of transition that this new era of design would cause a wholesale reassessment of the conditions created by Late Capitalism. Commodities would be only one stage in a complex cycle of materiality and non-materiality for objects, without further requirement for anything to be discarded. The economy shifted from being driven by the deliberate short lifespan of commodities, to being driven by the sustainment of the cyclicality of commodities. And the return of plastic into the ocean was eventually seen as symbolic of a cycle of failure, and, with it, of the delusion of the modern era.

[1] For Bruce Sterling’s compelling thesis on the Spime and its place in the future of design, read: Bruce Sterling, Shaping Things, MIT Press, 2005.
[2] This takes directly from the idea of ‘Object Oriented Theory’ that was outlined by the philosopher Graham Harman in his book Tool-Being: Heidegger and the Metaphysics of Objects, Open Court, 2002. This theory describes itself as a metaphysical movement that rejects the privileging of human existence and anthropocentrism over the existence of non-human objects. It is also worth reading entries related to this subject on his blog:

Manifesta9: The Deep of the Modern

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Verbeke Foundation

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Exhibition in the main hall from 07/03/2011 – 20/11/2011

Geert and Carla Verbeke-Lens started collecting art in the early 1990’s. Their interest was initially drawn by abstract painting. Later the focus of the collection shifted to collages and assemblages of mainly Belgian artists. In recent years the collection was further expanded to current art and bio art – art with living organisms.

The Verbeke Foundation wishes to be a place where culture, nature and ecology melt into one another. The works of bio-artists and artists working with living materials (plants, animals, smells) link up with this meltingpot seamlessly.

Since the opening of the Verbeke Foundation in 2007, the collection has been expanded with contemporary works and installations which were predominantly constructed in situ and integrated inside and outside the exhibition halls.

Tracks, Traces and Transformations

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NEST, Den Haag, The Netherlands
Open: 10/10/2010 – 21/11/2010
Thursday – Sunday from 1 to 5 pm.

A project on art directly related to movement. Constantly changing perspectives are transformed by the artists into collections and narratives, reduced to one sentence or melted into a single image. With works by Patrick Corillon, Christoph Fink, Maarten Vanden Eynde, Esther Kokmeijer, Richard Long and Simon Starling.

The current size of Plastic Reef is 200 x 250 cm.

Into The Great Wide Open

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Open: Friday 03/09/2010 to Sunday 05/09/2010
Location: Vlieland, a small island on the coast of The Netherlands

The majority of the landscape of the island consists of dunes, but there are some wooded areas and small meadows. A large part of the island, the western part, consists mainly of sand and is referred to as the ‘Sahara of the North’. After collecting almost 400 kilo’s of plastic during a sailing expedition across the Atlantic Ocean earlier this year, Plastic Reef will be shown for the first time in the Netherlands after it’s biggest growth curve ever. Some local trash was added to the sculpture as well, completing the North Atlantic Reef.

Exhibition: La Conquête de l’Espace

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14/11 – 13/12/2009: ‘La Conquête de l’Espace’, HISK/Higher Institute of Fine Arts, Ghent, Belgium
Location: Charles de Kerchovelaan 187a, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
Curated by Oscar van den Boogaard
With works by: Mike Carremans, Ermias Kifleyesus, Emi Kodama, Niklaus Rüegg, Ruth Sacks, Bastiaan Schevers, Anne Schiffer, Joris Van de Moortel, Frederik Van Simaey, Maarten Vanden Eynde, Sarah Westphal

The Higher Institute of Fine Arts (HISK) organizes postgraduate education in Flanders in the field of the audiovisual and visual arts. It provides approximately twenty-five young artists from Belgium and abroad with a studio of their own for the duration of two years along with specific, tailor-made guidance.

At the HISK, emphasis lies mainly on individual practice with an international focus. The visiting lecturers are crucial.
Artists, curators, critics and theoreticians pay individual studio visits at regular intervals. There are also frequent visits to significant art events and lectures, seminars and workshops are provided. The HISK also offers technical facilities and production opportunities.
Thanks to the unique HISK concept, the participants are given every opportunity to invest in critical research of their work in order to situate it within a broader artistic, cultural and societal context.

At the end of the two-year working period, the participant receives a certificate of ‘Laureate of the HISK’. The HISK is officially recognized as Higher Institute and is financed by the Flemish Community – Ministry of Education and supported by the City of Ghent.

Since 1997, 148 laureates have graduated from the HISK. The largest part of them are currently building up a successful professional career in the Belgian and international art world.