Hans Op de Beeck: Sea of Tranquillity

25 January 2011 - 2 April 2011

Argos, Brussels, BE

The work of Hans Op de Beeck (1969) includes sculptures, installations, videos, animated films, photography, drawings, paintings, music, sound and words. His work is a reflection on the human condition; our difficult relationship with time, space and each other in a contemporary environment. The result is undeniably fictional, constructed and staged: it is up to the viewer to accept the image as a sort of parallel reality, or to put it into perspective as no more than a visual construction. During a short residence at Saint-Nazaire in France in 2008, the artist became intrigued by the remarkable Second World War story and post-war reconstruction of this harbour town, whose shipyards produce the world’s largest cruise liners. It seemed to Op de Beeck that the Queen Mary 2, then just completed, was, like the Burj Khalifa in Dubai (the highest building in the world), a suitable metaphor for our belief in spurious values and in such concepts as work, leisure time and luxury consumerism. We nowadays use such categories as ‘the highest’, ‘the first’ and ‘the biggest’, but what do these terms say about the actual quality of things? The exhibition is conceived as an all-embracing installation; an evocation of a small, historical-looking museum which we seem to be entering after closing time and which appears to be devoted to a (fictional) mythical cruise liner, the Sea of Tranquillity. The spatial installation does not provide any explanation in words, only images: a sizeable scale model of the ship, sculptures of the captain and a maid, large display cases, an evocation of a sleeping container site at night and a series of black and white watercolours. The main focus is a medium-length film, a combination of acting and digitally generated 3D environments in which the viewer makes a night-time visit to the mysterious ship.