Part of the municipality of Bornem located on the bank of the Escault river was defined as a quiet area, with a noise level of less than 40 decibels. Bornem is the second Belgian municipality to bear this quality label.
How to advertise a quiet neighborhood? A physical demarcation is not really possible, an amalgam of warning signs in this context is hardly appropriate. Therefore, how to let this zone of silence "speak for itself"? Only an artistic intervention seems to be able to offer a solution.
The group of patrons is the stilteplatform, a group of twenty people who care about this quiet zone. They are public servants from various municipal services, but mostly concerned residents of the municipality, with very different backgrounds and ages. This very united group has been working for some time already on noise awareness actions.
The formulation of the commission
At the second meeting with The New Patrons, the members of the stitleplatform turned to sound art. To experience silence requires sound. In other words, sound art can reinforce silence while accentuating natural sounds (because silence never really exists). The visitor of the zone of silence must have the choice to put or not the sound.
Joost Fonteyne, a specialist in sound art, was nominated by the New Patrons as a mediator to challenge the group to think about what art could bring to them and to this silent zone. Joost shows various examples with illustrations. The important criteria are refined by the group: the visitor must be able to choose to hear the sound or not, the work must not be static, it must be able to evolve according to the natural sound of the region, change with the rhythm of days (morning-evening) and years (seasons).
In collaboration with the mediator Joost Fonteyne, the patrons’ group selected two artists to whom they wished to entrust this mission. In the end, the choice fell on the Belgian artist Pierre Berthet.
During his first stay in the silent zone, the artist finds himself fascinated by water and weeds (twigs). He proposes to make floating pyramids made with woven twigs in which the water is pumped, then poured by drops into metal cans to produce sound. He chose for his works the pond of the magnificent D’Ursel Castle. The municipal service of green spaces assists him in the basketry and the construction of the pyramids.