A Negative Garden of Eden
August 22, 2011
A recent show in Belgium’s contemporary art gallery Z33 presented a major solo exhibition by artist Kris Verdonck. Verdonck has a background in theater, and his work is appropriately situated between installation and performance. One of his most exciting offerings at Z33 was an enclosed garden planted on the first floor of the gallery housing a selection of Belgium’s most invasive species. Click to explore.
Verdonck’s “negative Garden of Eden” transformed the white walls of a contemporary art gallery into an enclosed bio-dome, a glorious but poisoned ecosystem that speaks of man’s increasing interference in nature. Overgrown with non-native species, EXOTE presents itself as the canned result of manmade biological imbalance.
Visitors were invited to put on protective suits and traipse through the garden, hyper aware that even the smallest seed or animal cannot be allowed to escape the premises. Drastically changed by its contents, the first floor of the gallery suddenly became a space of quarantine, defined by its duty to enclose and keep out. The protective clothing and the eventual complete destruction of the installation were both crucial to the work as a whole.
Like many of Verdonck’s other installations, EXOTE is a critical reflection on the current state of the world. The artist magnifies our current environmental problems and ecological disasters with a Kafka-esque metaphor, constructing a sealed microcosm of a world that is shaped by man and slowly becoming uninhabitable. Verdonck’s installation turned a bare contemporary art space into an apocalyptic landscape.