Blue Stone Weepers
The Blue Stone Weepers were drawn during the course of one year, based on a wide array of natural history illustrations that still circulate on European encyclopedias and collectible cards. The installation is composed of several cut-out drawings accompanied by fragments of bluestone, a Belgian sedimentary rock easily recognizable by having embedded paleozoic marine fossils from the carboniferous period. Bluestone has been used for centuries in buildings, flooring, tombstones, and fountains, and in Belgium it is as ubiquitous as natural history printed matter. They survive and wander as ghosts of real animals part of an extinct ecosystem.
The Weepers are also based on the fountains in the Labyrinth of Versailles, a maze ordered by Louis XIV to be built as a companion the the Versailles menagerie. The menagerie, also considered the first zoo in its modern form, was an octagonal panopticon full of exotic animals, mostly colorful birds, built to show the luminous reign of the king over nature. The labyrinth, on the other hand, was a dark maze with polychromated fountains depicting Aesop's animal fables, spectacular fake animals far more savage and dramatic than their real counterparts. The menagerie started a scientific revolution that left behind the cartesian notion of animals as machines, while the Labyrinth seems to predate animatronic attractions of animals as spectacle. Both places were dismantled by the 18th Century, but their influence on how we see, display, and understand animals looms large.
The Blue Stone Weepers were part of an installation present in the show "A Glittering Ruin Sucked Upwards", curated by Yann Chateigné at Gosset Site, Brussels, from December 2022 to January 2023. Some cut-out drawings –The Flatfish– were exhibited as part of the simultaneous exhibition "Licking Blackberry Jam From My Front Teeth" in Blanco, Ghent, shown in loan format, traveling for the first time to a different space. They were accompanied by a jar of preserved blue stone fragments from their original environment.
Blue Stone Weepers, 2022
Gouache paintings on paper and cardboard, wood cutouts, Belgian Blue Limestone fragments.