S T I L
In Schoten in Belgium, public artworks are usually the result of competitions. Because this was a work of art dedicated to a cemetery, a place that is very meaningful for many people, the city concil chose to call on an artist through a group of patrons. Win Van den Abbeele, mediator at the New Patrons, supervised the process.
The patrons consisted of representatives of culture, of the arts council, the environmental department, as well as a few representatives of ideological or religious ideologies and a number of experts.
Description of the commission
The patrons wanted a work that requires to remain motionless and invites reflection. A work of art with a certain poetry that refers to "transformation". After all, death ensures that something changes; we become something else, someone else or maybe nothing? Anyway, the change will be felt by those who stay behind.
The New patrons found this message in the work STIL by Fred Eerdekens. It consists of a Corten steel wall 7.5 meters long pierced with 145 poles of steel of different lengths (maximum length 1.5 meters) at the end of which are fixed small round mirrors.
When the viewer stands at a predetermined position in relation to the artwork, all the mirrors together make the word “Stil” (“Calm”) appears. The mirrors themselves are oriented at 45 ° towards the sky. This has both a symbolic and a practical side: the mirrors reflect the light in the eyes of the viewer and thus provide a readable text.
The material from which the work was made, also, like the survivors of the deceased, undergoes a transformation. It progresses slowly but steadily towards its final shape. The plate will eventually turn rust brown through an oxidation layer.
Fred Eerdekens (° 1951) is a Belgian visual artist. He lives and works in Hasselt. He graduated from the Higher Institute of Architecture and Art and the Grafiek Studio of the Heusden-Zolder Academy of Fine Arts. He was also a lecturer at the PHL in Hasselt and HISK in Antwerp. His career was interrupted for four years by a serious road accident in 2006.
Eerdekens works mainly three-dimensionally with the components of language, material, light and shadow. He himself writes the texts which constitute the raw material of his works. His work - otherwise very plastic - is the beginning of a world that can only be represented by words. In the shadow, where there is no light, a story is often told about things that are missing. Sometimes short, sometimes lyrical or languorous.
In addition, he draws in various techniques and materials, but mainly in watercolor.
Language and world of Fred Eerdekens
Is language a way to create order in the world? Does our thinking refer to language, or is it the opposite? That is very difficult to define and highly uncertain. Concepts and things do not completely overlap each other. Nothing ever completely coincides with its name.
The core of the work revolves around this clash between language and the world of objects. Or, in other words, between text and image. One is simply the recognition of things, the other is a complicated process of understanding.
In the case of the artwork, looking and reading are two completely different (brain) activities that occur more or less simultaneously. As a result, a paradox often arises. You watch as you read about watching. Or you read, while you look at things that turn out to be a text.
Speaking in silence is a striking feature of the works of Fred Eerdekens. Although they mainly consist of clear physical spaces and materials, you, as a spectator, think of the (absent) voice.
The silence is often associated with rest, and with respect and reservation. A cemetery like Schoten’s is no exception. A quiet place invites you to contemplate and meditate.