‘The Garden of Whispers’ was a quintessentially site-specific work, specially conceived for its particular space in the thirteenth-century Convent of the Jacobins in Toulouse. In the very lofty 600 square metres of space on offer, Op de Beeck built a terrain of sand dunes and trees, with a wooden walkway winding through it, drawing you ever further in.
Op de Beeck used sand that had the same ochre colour as the building’s centuries-old brick walls. From beneath the sand, individual whispering voices emerged from twenty concealed speakers. And each voice, whether a man’s, a woman’s or a child’s, whispered a secret to you. These were often very personal experiences, from the snickers of a child who had misbehaved to stories of forbidden adult love. On entering the space, all those whispering voices mingled together like a babbling stream. But when you followed the path, every tale could be heard individually.
Along several points along the winding path, makeshift tents cobbled together from scraps of canvas and wooden poles had been built – visual references to the temporary shelters desert nomads build in moments.
‘The Garden of Whispers’ incorporated a range of mystical and biblical references, alluded to the idea of confession, touched on the present refugee issue, and also referred to the ritual garden as a place of introspection.