Would you like to meet Lieven de Boeck? – Meanderings through France
Annick Dournes & Frederic de Poligny
Marseille is an ancient city that wants to resolutely turn toward the future. Founded by Greek sailors in 600 BC, Marseille is the oldest city of France and several museums such as the Mucem or the remarkable Marseille History Museum are living testimony of this invaluable heritage. But Marseille also has a strong will to promote contemporary art and the new Lieven de Boeck exhibition held in the FRAC (the Contemporary Art Regional Fund) proves it once again.
This recent museum was inaugurated in 2013. Designed by the Japanese architect Kenjo Kuma it was built in the middle of the Joliette district the former docks area that is going through a vast revitalization scheme with the opening of new hotels, restaurants, shopping centres and condominiums. Set on a street corner the museum is easily spotted with its high façade made of glass facets creating a visual effect of lights and shadows.
Lieven de Boeck was born in Brussels (Belgium) in 1971 and as an architect and artist, never stops questioning the way to make sense with or without a language, using abstract forms and signs. His latest exhibition called “Image Not Found” is a retrospective of his work over the last ten years spent at the Jan Van Eyck Academy in Maastricht (Netherlands), at the International Studio & Curatorial Program in Brooklyn, NY, at the Kunstierhaus Buchsenhausen in Innsbruck (Austria) and more recently at the Cirva (International research centre for glass and art) in Marseille. Each of these experiences led him to express his poetics in many different ways using white as the guiding line colour.
The first work welcoming the visitors to the exhibition has cleverly been hung from the ceiling overlooking the stairway going down to the first exhibition room. Called “The White Flags Project”, it was imagined by Lieven de Boeck in 2006 after visiting the HQ of the United Nations in New York where the 193 nations’ flags are presented in alphabetical order according to their English names. Lieven de Boeck took an opposing view by placing them in an order based on their formal characteristics defined by their motives and colours. Stripes, circles, crosses, figures, stars and moons are still there but their colours have been erased and the flags were cut and sewn in a white semi-transparent cloth using as many layers as equal to the numbers of colours in the original flags.
Using the know-how acquired during his stay at the Cirva Lieven de Boeck has created works made with blown glass. “Mikado LDB Modulor” and “Série Bleue” are a playful reinterpretation of the building and the dismantling process. They are set on the floor of a second exhibition room that is open for small groups of visitors several times each day. Série Bleue looks like glass Lego-cubes and the Mikado is made of 21 long, fragile glass bars. Amazingly it turns out that the dimensions of the famous plastic building blocks are based on the Fibronacci sequence, a mathematical set used by Le Corbusier to conceive his modulor (the modulor is an architectural dimension based on the sizes of a standing human being). Lieven de Boeck created his Mikado bars using that same Fibronacci sequence.
These works along with the others displayed in this new exhibition are a constant incentive for the visitors to go forward their senses and de Boeck keeps asking paradoxical questions: “Can you see without looking?”, “Can you speak without words?”, “Did you ever write without letters?”, “Can you feel without touching?”, “Have you ever seen an exhibition without image?”, “When does one recognize something?”…Thus the visitor is constantly requested to reconsider his way to see, hear or touch the world inside and why not outside the museum. Why not let yourself be guided by Lieven de Boeck on this new way to perceive your world?
Getting to Marseille is now quite easy taking the direct Eurostar train from London St Pancras to Marseille. www.eurostar.com. The Marseille railway station is right in the city centre and at short distance from all the points of interest in town.
For a convenient and comfortable stay to go to the Frac Museum you can book a room at the Novotel Suite Eurocentre Marseille. It’s only a few minutes walk from the museum and from all the new restaurants and shopping centres of the lively Joliette district. The big “en suite” rooms have a large balcony, a sea view and a kitchenette and are the perfect place for a city break in Marseille. www.novotel.com
For more information about the Frac museum: www.fracpaca.org
And about Marseille: www.marseille-tourisme.com
Text © Annick Dournes
All art pieces: ©Lieven de Boeck (photos © Frederic de Poligny)
All Photos: © Frederic de Poligny