The minimal installation Observatory is a ‘silent object’, a geodesic dome on a small island, inviting you to reflect on the fragile coherence between man and his environment. A geodesic dome is a strong, thin-shelled hemisphere, a remarkably rigid structure of interlinked triangles, first designed as part of a planetarium. Later on it was popularised for industrial purposes and as a venue for exhibitions. Historically, the dome as a shape is often seen in Christian and Persian architecture, as it would hearten the mystical experience. Observatory is a play on all of these functionalities. The silent dome is a place of retreat. It embraces you as you observe the landscape as if through a lens. Inside, minimal architectural elements engage into dialogue with the surroundings. A low water basin may overflow brimming with rain, or, contrastingly, leave an arid impression for want of rain. A subtle and very local exploration of the ecological impact of man on water and vice versa. For the duration of the arts trail, the dome materials are subject to the elements. This installation questions our connection to our natural and constructed daily surroundings. Just how mindful are we in a landscape of artificial interventions? How do we model our natural and urban landscapes and how do they form us? It is a symbolic space in between city and nature seeking tranquillity.
GPS coordinates artwork: 50°51'13.3"N 3°18'10.7"E
With flying colours, the city of Harelbeke has managed to put itself back on the map as a quintessentially aquatic stronghold. All along its course, the Lys is undergoing major water works to improve navigability and connect the rivers Seine and Scheldt to the entire Benelux inland waterway network. Harelbeke did not miss that boat and should be proud of its fresh face by the river. Observatory can be seen as an island within the island of Moleneiland (‘molen’ or mill referring to the former flour mills still standing tall), accessible by bike or on foot by a striking swing bridge. Moleneiland is centred around a barrage and has had a marvellous makeover with plenty of space to walk, cycle or just relax and enjoy the sights on the smart viewing platform. The renovated weir portal now functions as a proud monument. The old river arm has been reconnected and a newly constructed fish ladder will have fish swimming up and down the river free and unobstructed. All of which may be admired from an elegant walkway above. With plenty of attention to river remediation, nature, recreation and sustainability, the Lys is looking lovelier and livelier than ever.
Belgian artist Kevin Trappeniers (°1985) is a Louvain scholar of Cultural Studies. In his own words, Trappeniers develops ‘a stilled, visual, physical and often wordless artistic language in detailed, sensate work at the intersection of performing arts and visual arts, moving freely between disciplines and mixing them together in interdisciplinary work, in theatres and more recently also in the public space.’ His works focus on human presence and absence, identity and spatiality, and connections between people in society. His non-profit association Stray Light serves as a catalyst for Trappeniers to create his own visual art and to collaborate with other artists and professionals from all manner of fields. This production saw the co-operation of C-TAKT, a platform for transdisciplinary young talent.