the LangerbruggePower Station
November 10 to November 14, 2021
Together with Konnektor I am working on the realization of 'Position 2 - View of the Langerbrugge Power Station' for the Ghent light festival. 'Postion 2' is part of the imagination plan entitled 'Mission Dhuicque' and was developed during a working period in the summer of 2020.
'Mission Dhuicque' consists, among other things, of three interrelated positions that serve a conversation about the social issues that play a role in the area around the Langerbrugge Power Station.
'Position 2 - View of the Langerbrugge Power Station' forms the central panel of the intended triptych. 'Position 2' tries to respond in a poetic way and with minimal resources to the complex situation surrounding the imposing heritage of the Langerbrugge Power Station.
The natural light of the sun plays an important role in 'Position 2'. The Power Station has previously made city lighting possible, breaking through the dark for good. This work of art aims to contribute substantively to a conversation about the importance of this heritage and the preservation of this power station through meaningful repurposing. Where at light festivals the spectacle and aesthetics of light often dominate, I have chosen to highlight the complexity of this heritage issue in a modest and as natural way as possible with the rising and setting sun.
Eugène Dhuicque (1877-1955) was the architect of this building and the nearby Herryville garden district. During his lifetime he was an active advocate for the skillful restoration of heritage and its careful management. The former power station in Langerbrugge is seen as important in his oeuvre. It is tragic to see today the poor condition of its design, while the building has great historical value for Belgium and Langerbrugge in particular. It is an icon of an era.
The architect Eugène Dhuicque was a great admirer of the art critic John Ruskin and his view of the ruin as a carrier of meaning. Ruskin's statement is apt in the context of this sunlit architectural work of art:
'Let every dawn of morning be to you as the beginning of life, and every setting sun be to you as its close.' [John Ruskin from The Two Paths.]
Residents of Langerbrugge and ex-employees of the power station have been witnessing the decline of this heritage for years. Their perception seems to have little or no influence on decision making at this point. These (silent) witnesses are central to this work of art. By exhibiting the building when lit by the rising and setting sun, during the Ghent light festival (10 November - 14 November 2021), I want to investigate the power of this perception in relation to the actual questions here.
!Wanted: View of the Power Station!
We are looking for photos of your View of the Langerbrugge Power Station. This can be a photo taken from your house or garden showing the power station or part of it, or photos taken while walking in the coupling area or during a crossing on the Langerbrugge ferry etc. etc.
The heritage of the Langerbrugge power station demands our attention. By sharing these photos you agree that these images may be used on social media to celebrate this heritage together and to draw attention to the importance and preservation of the Langerbrugge Power Station.
'Position 2 - View of the Langerbrugge Power Station' concretely consists of a grandstand for five hundred people that will be placed close to the power station for the duration of the light festival. In addition to the function of this stand to provide a view of the building, this stand also has a sculptural function. The five hundred chairs refer to the Seveso societal risk that is in force in this area due to the presence of the chemical company Kronos Europe NV. As in a Greek tragedy, this company was born through the Langerbrugge power station, but like Kronos in Greek mythology murdered his father (Uranus), today this company complicates the possibilities for repurposing.
When visitors see the battered building looming out of the darkness during sunrise and disappearing into the darkness of night in the evening, they become witnesses to this situation. Thus this icon of the industrial revolution offers hope in the morning and in the evening as darkness falls we are irrevocably confronted with the question; what if no one intervenes here?
Offering this moment and experiencing the view of this industrial icon together will leave an unforgettable impression. This work of art aims to make the friction palpable between recreation (the park) and living (in the village) on the one hand, and the close presence of heavy industry (in the Ghent Canal Zone) on the other. A visit to this place will raise important questions.
This work of art discusses, among other things, the functioning of the democratic decision-making process and the weighing of natural and economic interests in this process. 'Position 2' thus brings the (silent) witnesses who are 'out of the game' back into a meaningful position. 'Position 2' wants to make the 'buffer zone' furnished with greenery as camouflage available here (temporarily) as a space where various issues can be faced.
The Langerbrugge Power Station demands our attention. Will you help to celebrate this heritage and bring its importance and preservation to the attention of a wide audience?
Best regards, Edwin Stolk
Position 1 - View of Kronos Europe NV
[This position offers a view of the present, which has a major influence on the choices that are made today.]
Position 2 - View of the Langerbrugge Electricity Station by sunrise and sunset
[This position offers a view of the visible past, which seems to slowly wither away.]
Position 3 - View of the former fly ash dumb from the Langerbrugge power station
[This position offers a view of the consequences of a past that seems to have been disappeared forever in the green of trees.]
During my research in 2020 I have been in contact with representatives of the municipality of Evergem, Het agentschap Onroerend Erfgoed, de Vlaamse Vereniging voor Industriële Archeologie, de provincie Oost Vlaanderen, Comeet and the Projectgroep Gentse Kanaalzone. I was reading a thesis about the architect Eugène Dhuicque written by Roos Pauwels at the University of Ghent and studied many (governmental) reports about this area and the companies active in this area. I spoke with the founder and conservator of the former Museum Energeia, with former workers of the power plant and people who are born and raised with the view of this power station. It was special to meet with supporters and opponents of this heritage.
I want to thank everyone for their confidence.
Slide 1 An overview of the three positions of 'Mission Dhuicque
Slide 2 The Langerbrugge power station in the summer of 2020
Slide 3 View on the Langerbrugge power station seen from the proposed grandstand
Gouvernement made this proposal 'Mission Dhuicque' possible during Konnektor and it will be further elaborated with the following partners: Konnektor (your company, organization, name here?) 'Mission Dhuicque' follows the concept of #theorganisation
Would you also like to collaborate on this issue? Please do not hesitate to contact me. I am available to share my insights of the research and I collected material that could be exhibited.
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Position 1 | Position 2 | Position 3
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