in the Category: art

A travelogue on the moving borders of stillness and reflection

Between Ostend and Eupen, the art trail EUROPALIA TRAINS & TRACKS - Endless Express follows the train tracks in a search for shared histories carried by the landscape. The trail consists of nine works along the railroad line, created by artists from Belgium and neighbouring countries. On our journey, we crossed anthropomorphic sculptures, guiding phrases and future(less) destinations.

Text by Senne Vanderschelden & Siene Hollemans
Photos shot by Siene Holemans

Brussels North 

Our point of departure for the Endless Express art trail takes us on a time travel to 1997. The black metal mass that looms before us has accompanied the North Station like a faithful friend. Tapta’s sculpture Esprit Ouvert has graced the roundabout at the main entrance for twenty-five years. Today, this is where we start our journey between the stations of Ostend and Eupen.

The sculpture is situated between arrival and departure, between moving bodies and vehicles

The sculpture is situated between arrival and departure, between moving bodies and vehicles. Most travellers pass by in a hurry, with no time to rest their gaze. A renewed interest in this sculpture arises through this project. We too, for the first time, really looked at the sculpture.

The street, which is located between the sidewalk and the sculpture, acts as an intermediate space. Once you cross the street, it almost feels illegal to be so close to this spatial intervention. However, the sculpture is perhaps even more fascinating up close. It consists of two separate abstract shapes that form a unified whole. The metal structure serves as an inaccessible gateway for the various roads that branch off at the roundabout. 

 

Brussels South 

As we approach Brussels South, we perceive a glimpse of a text through the window of the train. We make our way towards the grey tower next to the train tracks, which is currently surrounded by the intense flow of movement caused by the south market. The sign now towers above us and reads the text 'migrating together', the other side 'in your own time’. The text responds to the environment and suddenly we are very aware of the fact that we seem to disappear in the hurried movements and tumult we find ourselves in the midst of. 

Above the sign, an anthropomorphic sculpture presents itself as a weather vane to travellers and passers-by

Like the sculpture of Tapta gave direction, Laure Prouvost's work does so more directly. Above the sign, an anthropomorphic sculpture presents itself as a weather vane to travellers and passers-by, to spectators looking for direction and to those who have temporarily lost their way. The sculpture offers direction, brings movement and moves. We move around the sculpture while the market moves around us. 

Ostend 

Artist Flaka Haliti creates an invitation in the form of a question about origin and destination
 

On arrival in Ostend, we are greeted by the odd question 'If I Want to Go Home Will Robots Send Me Somewhere Elsewhere?' The imposing billboard, supported by a white metal skeleton, looks out on the train tracks, on arrival and departure. It calls for silence and reflection between these two movements.

Artist Flaka Haliti creates an invitation in the form of a question about origin and destination. The station acts as a place of ebb and flow. Behind the work cranes emerge, building the new city. The technology moves in contrast and in analogy with the changing sky. The hollowed-out letters, which are read today by a clear blue sky, try to catch the spectator between the tides. 

 

Eupen 

Between the last two stops of our journey, we peer along with the fields, looking for the work of artist Sophie Nys. As the train conductor announces our arrival, the white flags accompany us as a ritual into the station - a ritual with a greater bearing than reaching our destination. All forty-two flags are in memory of the flood that ravaged the southeast of Belgium, where as many people as flags lost their lives.

All forty-two flags are in memory of the flood that ravaged the southeast of Belgium, where as many people as flags lost their lives

On a windy day, the flags would normally wave to the passengers. Today, however, they show themselves static (as they are made from metal), shrouded in the golden glow of the setting sun. 

We are also standing still. On our journey, we crossed works that make us mourn and remember, question and rediscover in a soft, almost unconscious way. Standing still is more than ever an act of movement. This gentle form of radicalism or resistance offers an answer to the blind flow of movement that dominates our society.

EUROPALIA TRAINS & TRACKS
with
Che Go Eun (Leuven and Bruges Station)
Flaka Haliti (Ostend Station)
Laure Prouvost (Brussels-South Station)
Tapta (Brussels-North Station)
Marina Pinsky (Brussels-North Station)
Chloé Malcotti (Verviers-Central Station)
Inas Halabi (Brussels-Central Station)
Sophie Nys (Between Welkenraedt Station and Eupen Station)
Curated by Caroline Dumalin

Ostend - Eupen railway line
until 13 February 2022

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