Somewhere, beyond good and evil, there is a garden. I will meet you in it.
Djalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi
The traditional garden of the Persians was a sacred place designed to bring together within its rectangle four parts representing the four parts of the world, with an area in the middle even more sacred than the others, which was like the umbilicus, the world’s navel (this was where the basin and the fountain were); and all the garden’s vegetation had to be distributed in this area, in this kind of microcosm. As for the carpets, they were originally reproductions of gardens. The garden is a carpet where the whole world achieves its symbolic perfection, and the carpet is a sort of garden moving through space. The garden is the smallest parcel of the world, it is the totality of the world.
The magic carpet has long been a symbolic way of travelling around the world. In Persian mythology, King Solomon had a magic carpet. The queen of Sheba, who was said to be a magician, allegedly offered him this fabulous gift. It is even said that the king could transport his whole palace on it. The magic carpet referred to in tales was popularized by One Thousand and One Nights, and has also been depicted in many fantasy films. Some scientists have focused on this legendary object, seeing therein an aerial replica of the way the manta ray moves in water. Physicists have even become involved in research to make a carpet fly. But the magic flying carpet also conjures up that ancestral dream, of flying like a bird. After Icarus, the first man to soar up into the ether, Leonardo da Vinci became caught up in designing highly ingenious flying objects. Since then, flying saucers have haunted the modern imagination, well beyond all the technical performances which have really enabled people to travel through the air, and launch a very diverse selection of flying machines. At the present time, our minds are occupied by drones: as remote-controlled flying machines, drones are opening up a boundless field of possibilities. From observation to inspection, from transporting things to carrying weapons, nothing seems to elude the promise of their performances – for better or for worse…
The exhibition Heaven and Hell broaches the theme of flying machines and carpets from different angles: the symbolism of old carpets and the symbolism of the geometry of the gardens inspiring it, the age-old dream of flying and imaginary flying objects, the world seen from the sky, the occupation of space by satellites, and the worldwide development of drones and its consequences. Many artists are being invited to take part in this show, or will be represented in it, including : Janane Al-Ani (Irak), Alexandre Arrechea (Cuba), Bilal Bahir (Irak / Belgium), Axel Brechensbauer (Sweden), Solano Cardenas (Cuba / France), Ali Cherri (Lebanon), Mahwish Chishty (Pakistan / USA), Eleven Play (Japan), Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian (Iran), Alicia Framis (Spain), Mekhitar Garabedian (Belgium), Babak Golkar (Iran / Canada), Laurent Grasso (France), GREYGOUAR / Grégoire Gicquel (France), Cai Guo-Qiang (China), Adam Harvey (USA), IOCOSE (Italy), Pravdoliub Ivanov (Bulgaria), Edouard Janssens (Belgium), Alain Josseau (France), Jugnet+Clairet (Belgium / France), Babak Kazemi (Iran), Kennard Phillipps (United Kingdom), Krištof Kintera (Czech Republic), Julien Leresteux (Belgium), C. Love (USA), Urs Lüthi (Switzerland), Pierre Malphettes (France), Jackie Matisse (France), Farhad Moshiri (Iran), Macoto Murayama (Japan), James Muriuki & Miriam Syowia Kyambi (Kenya), Panamarenko (Belgium), Ruben Pater (The Netherlands), Frédéric Platéus (Belgium), Sébastien Reuzé (France / Belgium), Samuel Rousseau (France), Moussa Sarr (France), Björn Schülke (Germany), Jalal Sepehr (Iran), Rirkrit Tiravanija (Thailand), Addie Wagenknecht (USA / Austria), Li Wei (China).
The exhibition Heaven and Hell: From magic carpets to drones is realized in collaboration with the Centre for Historical Research and Documentation on War and Contemporary Society / CEGESOMA (Brussels), Vehbi Koc Foundation (Istanbul), Museum MARTa (Herford), Musée national des Arts asiatiques Guimet (Paris); the private collections Collection Michel Aubry (Paris), Collection Boghossian (Brussels), Foundation De 11 Lijnen (Oudenburg), X TIM – AVITRON (Marseille); and galleries AEROPLASTICS Contemporary (Brussels), Akinci Gallery (Amsterdam), ARTER Space for Art (Istanbul), ARTLabAfrica (Nairobi), Galerie Albert Baronian (Brussels), Bitforms Gallery (New York), Galerie Martine et Thibault de La Châtre (Paris), Deweer Gallery (Otegem), D+T PROJECT (Brussels), Galerie Imane Farès (Paris), Galerie Flore (Brussels), Frantic Gallery (Tokyo), Galerie Claire Gastaud (Clermont-Ferrand), Géry Art Gallery (Namur), Galerie Jamar (Antwerp), Helga Maria Klosterfelde Edition (Berlin/Hamburg), Galerie Paris-Beijing (Brussels/Paris), Galerie Perrotin (Paris/New York), Casado Santapau Gallery (Madrid), Sariev Gallery (Plovdiv), Silk Road Gallery (Tehran), Agence Sparadraps (Brussels), The Third Line (Dubai).
As part of the exhibition, the following lectures will take place: The drones and their consequences (March 17th, 2015, 7 p.m. – in English) with Philip Boucher (B), Peter van Blyenburgh (F) and Nicholas J. Davis (UK); and L’art et les drones (March 18th, 2015, 7 p.m. – in French) with artists Adam Harvey and Edouard Janssens, and writer François De Coninck. Additional workshop The construction of Kites in French is open to children and adults, and will be held at the Villa Empain. Directed by Anne De Roy and Yves Ghislain, from the association Pass to Heaven, the workshop will take place April 13th-15th, 2015, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and August 24th-26th, 2015, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Reservations can be made at firstname.lastname@example.org.