This sculpture is specially designed for the building 'Zebrastraat' in Ghent, Belgium. CIRBUATS is allready Nick's second sculpture for this building. In 2009 he finished WARSUBEC on the roof (picture in attachement). WARSUBEC was his first work on architectural scale. The sculpture might be seen as an abstract high-tech descendant of similary smooth, round-edged sculptures by Henry Moore or Hans Arp. In a less art historical way, one might also recognize a similarity to bone- or even cellstructures, turning the objects into virus-like growths on top of the old building.
CIRBUATS on the other hand, bundles some current topics and personal interests of Nick: the architectural discourse between blobs and boxes, the art historical motif of the veil and the social and political tension between public and private, and outside and inside. This monumental sculpture should be a meeting point that bridges the separation between public and private, and between inside and outside. Moreover, it elevates the "rear" of the building or neighbourhood to a visual attraction. This monumental sculpture is so to speak grafted on the building and illustrates the contrast between the conventional models of the architecture (box) and the virtual design (blob). It is a contrast between rigid and organic forms and between physical and virtual.
Covering with fabric or a veil is an art historical theme with a long tradition. Pliny associated the curtain with illusionism and interactivity: he described how he fooled the artist Parrhasius Zeuxis by asking him to slide a painted curtain. The contemporary artist Michelangelo Pistoletto worked further on this tradition with his work 'Green Curtain' (1962-1965). The artwork for Zebrastraat is also about such illusion: using digital design and mathematical formulas the illusion of a fabric is created. This substance seems loosely draped over the underlying matter. It invites so to speak the viewer to lift the veil and to see what lies hidden beneath it. Associated to this are questions about the role of art in society and the imperative of participation and engagement of the viewer relative to the artwork. This artwork also refers to the Belgian identity which is intertwined with surrealism.
The German Renaissance painter Lucas Cranach accented the nakedness of his figures by a transparent veil. The veil is a very ambivalent pattern: firstly it hides the information, but at the same time it also emphasizes what is hidden under the cloth. The sculpted fabric stands for transformation: it conceals and reveals the matter. This art work for Zebrastraat is finally a monumental poetic ode to the volume and shape: the fundamentals of sculpture.
Because this work responds to the social specificity of the real estate project in Zebrastraat, it has, besides its artistic relevance, also a profound social significance. First Ervinck plays with the concept of 'rear'. These facades were originally not intended to be seen from the street. Now the land was bought, these facades play a new role in the streetscape. Ervinck wants to upgrade the – often unappreciated – rear of the building, and even attribute it a public function. With this work he also thinks about how art can be integrated into society.
By "covering" part of the facade with a veil, Ervinck reflects secondly on the processes of spatial appropriation. CIRBUATS' imposing structure reflects an increasingly problematic division between public and private, and a privatization process that since the 15th century has become increasingly compelling. Claiming common property in order to transform it into a profitable product is today common practise in all segments of society. The protection of certain areas (think of Fortress Europe) – and the related division between “us” and “them” – is surmounted by a political act. This separation is always characterized by a tension between protection and confinement. Ervinck does not want to draw a radical line between inside and outside. He would rather create a meeting point, which will functionally be realized by the installation of a bar at the bottom of the sculpture. Just as the world has not gone away, when you close your eyes, the architecture does not disappear when it is shielded. It has been transformed and is part of the common area.
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