600,000 sculptures to commemorate 600,000 WWI dead in Flanders

A Flanders field.
A Flanders field.
(Flickr: Linda Cronin)

Conceptual Belgium-based artist Koen Vanmechelen has been selected to create a huge WW1 commemorative Land Art installation in Ypres, Flanders. The project titled Coming World Remember Me will consist of 600,000 sculptures created to represent the 600,000 who died in Belgium during WWI and is due for completion in 2018.

Under Vanmechelen’s direction, volunteers from all over the world will create a clay ‘egg’ sculptures each with a dog-tag containing two names, a reference to the ID system used during the war. The first tag is that of a soldier who died on Belgian soil, taken from a list from the In Flanders Fields museum Ypres. The second is the name of the artist who made the sculpture a century later. The effect, according to an official description of the project, is to join the present with the past and “remind us of the uselessness of war: yesterday, today and tomorrow.”

Vanmechelen states: “The generations who live at the moment, they don’t know what war is in Belgium or in Europe,” he said. “Because the war is always somewhere else.… I think it’s important to do this remembering — it’s part of our history, part of our DNA. It makes us clearer on how avoid a war like this in the future. I think it's part of education.”

The Belgian artist, who is opening his first UK solo exhibition in London the 14th  November 2014, 630pm makes work around a central theme of diversity, immunity and fertility. By approaching his subject laterally he has been able to make significant discoveries about genetics which have not been reached through conventional scientific practice. 

Koen Vanmechelen: Darwin’s Dream is at The Crypt Gallery, St Pancras Church, London, 14 November – 15 December 2014, www.darwinsdream.co.uk

 

 

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