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Lola Daels & Sebastiaan Willemen

Artists selected as part of the open call

27485 Rue de la Cathédrale

The landscape feels familiar, yet something wriggles in our subconscious. The bare shores and sloping forests plunging abruptly into the water tell us this scene is artificial. A dam flooded the valley and condemned the river to a new reality. One in which the houses disappeared, and the ecosystem was renewed. A sudden human intervention reset nature. Out of nowhere the lives of all organisms depending on the river were disrupted.

Still, we treasure them. Providing us with the sight of fresh water, protection against floods and recreation, we honor them in postcards and books. They became cultural heritage and popular travel destinations.

Sculptures of the Anthropocene, dams are the billboard of human’s illusion that nature can be dominated. Over the second part of the last century, the exponential increase of dams has blocked more than half of the world’s large rivers. In Belgium, no rivers are left untouched.

Global change and years of poor management has exposed our fragile relationship with water. The first conflicts are imminent, and already several cities around the globe are experiencing real water shortages in summer. But also in our own region climate change has consequences. In 2021, the valley of the Vesdre flooded, destroying homes and sometimes even lives. Even Liège only barely escaped an historic tragedy..

But what if the dam would have failed?

Do we continue to live on in the illusion that we can control nature?

For the last year we have been researching the lost landscapes of Belgians dams in the framework of Veldwerk II. A project supported by Kunstenplatform Plan B.

In our vitrine we show a lenticular image, continuously wandering in between the valley and the lake.

Lola Daels & Sebastiaan Willemen