“From sand, artworks in glass”, Koen Vanmechelen, Under Pressure, 2014; Open Secret, 2019
curated by BUILDING
in collaboration with Jean Blanchaert
BUILDINGBOX is dedicating the 2019-2020 season to contemporary glass art with the project Dalla sabbia, opere in vetro (From sand, artworks in glass). The second series of exhibitions in BUILDINGBOX – spread over 12 monthly appointments – presents the works Under Pressure and Open Secret by the Belgian artist Koen Vanmechelen. They represent a perfect point of encounter and transition between the first series, which recently ended – 5779, curated by Nicola Trezzi, devoted to light – and the new exploration of contemporary glass, curated by BUILDING in collaboration with Jean Blanchaert. For 12 months a sequence of works by various artists will be hosted in the independent showcase, visible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, marking the passing of time and eliciting broader reflections on how time tends to dominate space.
The glass box holds a collection, a cluster of glass and marble eggs of similar sizes, each a world in itself. Though their surfaces and transparency suggest uniformity to the viewer, each is in fact unique and singular. The lightness of their skin is an illusion as the glass is heavy. Their oval structure is the shape of the original cell, the place where life originates. This organic form contrasts with the almost mathematical minimalism of the construction, and of the mysterious formula on the wall. A genetic code. A DNA molecule, made up out of its fundamental units A, G, C, and T. The creation of life. Is this box exposing or protecting this colony of forms, or both? Is it through the pressure of the group that the singular beauty of each glass oval becomes evident?
BUILDING presents Dalla sabbia, opere in vetro, (From sand, artworks in glass), the second exhibition project hosted by BUILDINGBOX that brings together artworks which share the same material, glass. A temporary exhibition dedicated to contemporary glass in which the various pieces will be presented one after the other.
The title, Dalla sabbia, opere in vetro (From sand, works in glass) evokes the fascinating alchemy involved in creating this material from sand, using air and fire, presenting the work of contemporary artists who have chosen to explore the potential offered by this medium. It is the experimental approach that makes these works so exemplary and precious: they are conceived by artists who use various different techniques, some of which are not usually associated with the specific characteristics of glass. This project resonates with BUILDING’s mission of exploring the lesser known aspects and experimental side of the art world, along with more celebrated figures and practices.
Here the focus is on the creative relationship forged between the artist’s vision and the craft of master glassmakers. Easily shaped by skilled hands, glass assumes “fragile” forms that both connect with the artistic traditions of the past and at the same time open up to a formal perspective grounded in contemporary aesthetics. The theme of the project lies in the works themselves, rooted in an age-old history and ancient craft, bearers of a precise chemical combination of different elements developed 4000 years ago by the Phoenicians, and which still holds infinite potential.
An internationally renowned artist, working across a multitude of disciplines, Koen Vanmechelen (1965) is one of the most versatile thinkers of these times. He is situated at the confluence of art, science, philosophy and community. As an eternal migrant, he travels the world looking for answers to fundamental questions that touch on issues which are both timeless and acutely relevant today: identity, diversity, globalisation and human rights. He weaves those answers – always works in progress – into enigmatic artworks and projects. His quests and interdisciplinary projects invite other migrants to work together and create an awareness and a movement of communities around the world. Together, they reflect on the global legacy of the human animal and explore the different ways we choose to live and evolve together. In 2010, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Hasselt and in 2013, he was awarded the prestigious Golden Nica Hybrid Art Award (Linz) and Global Artist’s Award (Venice). His work has been shown in more than 80 solo shows and 220 group exhibitions worldwide. As a speaker in high demand, he was invited to address the World Economic Forum (2008) and various TED conferences. He has also participated in solo and group exhibitions in, amongst others, The National Gallery (London), Victoria and Albert Museum (London), Museum Kunst Palast (Düsseldorf), Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ (Amsterdam), Macro (Rome), MAD Museum (NY), Belvedere (Vienna), ZKM (Karlsruhe) and Pushkin Museum (Moscow). Besides making regular appearances at the Venice Biennale, his work has been shown at the Biennials of Moscow, Havana, Dakar and Poznan, at the Triennial of Guangzhou, at the World Expo Shanghai 2010, at Manifesta 9, and at dOCUMENTA (13).