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THE COLOURS OF THE LABYRINTH

with Mark Dion, Eric Giraudet de Boudemange, Klara Hobza, Filip Van Dingenen & Ive Van Bostraeten

November 15, 2014 - January 24, 2015

ROEL ARKESTEIJN ABOUT THE SHOW

installation shot

ROEL ARKESTEIJN ABOUT THE SHOW

At a time when pretty much the whole earth has been mapped and become available in a few mouse clicks via Google Earth, many of today's artists show a remarkable interest in the discovery and exploration of nature. They travel actively towards knowledge and development, often in collaborative expeditions. They also tend to criticise heroism and the often colonial character of the exploratory journeys of past centuries. Excessive globalisation has created a finely-mazed (and previously unheard-of) infrastructure for these contemporary explorers, making it possible for them to conduct artistic research into the seemingly commonplace and familiar, into the microscopic, into the coherence of phenomena and the ideologies underlying our relation with nature and our perception of the world. In their expeditions, personal experience is often just as important as generating scientific knowledge. 'I do think that personal experience is critical to understanding places and the specialness of things', says artist Mark Dion. 'Sure, science has seen a particular insect, but it is new to me. (...) I am still fascinated by new discoveries in my backyard, which may not be breathtaking or groundbreaking for the history of human knowledge, but they are always exciting to me.'

Waldburger Wouters currently features The Colours of the Labyrinth, a group show dedicated to expeditions, intricate investigations and other exploratory travels in nature. Mark Dion, Eric Giraudet, Klara Hobza and Filip Van Dingenen present mostly new work, made especially for this exhibition.

Mark Dion (New Bedford, Massachusetts, 1961) is internationally considered one of the leading artists of the moment. The American is a pioneer in the new movement of eco art, which focuses on ecological issues and our perception of nature. Questioning the authority of scientific approach in contemporary society, Dion has embarked on a number of journeys: from tropical travels (i.e. Venezuela in the nineties) to a tour of the United States in the footsteps of nature explorer William Bartram (2007), and recently a long nautical expedition through the Arctic (2013). The exhibition at Waldburger Wouters is Mark Dion's long-awaited return to Brussels. The artist presents a new installation incorporating expedition tools, as well as a recently created set of drawings.

French artist Eric Giraudet de Boudemange (Boulogne-Billancourt, 1983) is, in his own words, fascinated by 'ethnographic experiences'. In his recent works - some of which he created during a residency at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam - he has concentrated on folk games from Northern France and the Netherlands. Through self-made rituals, Giraudet aims to adopt customs and traditions inherited from medieval and pre-industrial cultures. At Waldburger Wouters he shows a video devoted to the Frisian folk sport of fierljeppen (a way of pole vaulting over a ditch). Giraudet compares himself to a panoramic painter: he is not so much concerned with the sport itself as with the Dutch landscape he wants to sketch from this perspective.

Klara Hobza (Plzen, Czech Republic, 1975) subjects herself to nearly impossible tasks, which sometimes take decades to execute - some of these missions might even need to be completed posthumously. In 2010, after years of training, Hobza started the project Diving Through Europe, for which the artist will attempt to cross Europe's major waterways in diving gear. She took off at the mouth of the North Sea at Rotterdam and will swim upstream through the Nieuwe Waterweg ('new waterway') and through the Rhine river, until she will reach the river Main at the German city of Mainz. She then hopes to cross into the Main-Danube channel and to dive into the Black Sea via the Danube river, at the Romanian city of Constanta. The operation is expected to last about three decades, to be completed around 2040. At this exhibition, Klara Hobza shows several videos, drawings and an installation documenting Diving Through Europe.

Brussels resident Filip Van Dingenen (Diest, Belgium, 1975) started the extensive Ecole Mondiale in 2013 in collaboration with Ive Van Bostraeten (Lier, Belgium, 1975). The original Ecole Mondiale was part of a colonial prestige project by the Belgian king Leopold II. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the king had plans for a Congo Museum, an Eastern Museum and an Ecole Mondiale in Tervuren. All projects were to be designed by architect Charles Girault, who also drew the Petit Palais in Paris. The Ecole Mondiale was conceived in 1902 as an educational centre, preparing Belgians for missions in overseas colonial territories. Leopold laid the first stone in 1905, but only the foundations of the building would see the light of day. After the king's death in 1909, budget cuts ensued, leaving only the Congo Museum to be finished while all other plans were abandoned. Filip Van Dingenen has assigned himself to adapt the goals of the original Ecole Mondiale critically to our society. In a series of ten temporary Fieldstations - pop-ups initiating activities at different places in the world - Van Dingenen raises issues he considers relevant for contemporary cosmopolitans, such as our relation to nature, the transition movement, deep ecology, holy geometry, bioenergetics and cosmology. At the centre of Waldburger Wouters gallery, the artist installed a vast sculpture made from sand, drawings, a computer simulation, and stones - the latter referring to the foundation of the Ecole Mondiale.