Dutch artist Chaim VAN LUIT (b.1985), who recently moved to Brussels, is presenting a work in the Wunderkammer with the enigmatic name of Herbstnebel. This word (meaning Autumn Mist) was the codename used by the German Army to designate the Ardennes Counteroffensive (Battle of the Bulge), Hitler's last throw of the dice to counter the Allied advance on the Western Front. Chaim van Luit is an artist, although he was also in the navy for four years. This atypical career has allowed him to sail many seas and appreciate the concept of vastness. As an artist, he now explores blank spaces and probes places rich in silent memories: wasteland, caves, subway corridors among others. One could say that he has a constant urge to reveal whatever is hidden, concealed from view.
To produce 930°c (title of the work, which refers to the melting point of brass), van Luit bought a metal detector and went to places in Belgium and Germany where the fighting took place in 1944. He found a large amount of scattered metal items, shell cases, aircraft parts or belt buckles. His idea was not to keep them as such, but to use them in a process of transformation, to push the boundaries of the object, to convert them from the status of items buried in the soil for 70 years to the status of unidentifiable elements fused into a new object, with a new charge. A charge which is no longer historic but symbolic. Which is why he chose the door-handle from his house. This item enables a door to be closed on one space, and opened on a different space. Grasped every day, it embodies concepts of handling (or use, one might say), boundary (between the outside world and the intimacy of home), transition between two heterogeneous but complementary spaces, opening onto a new horizon, passage, territory, of the house.
The presentation brings archaeological museums to mind, emphasising the idea of ruin. In addition, by positioning the handle slightly higher, on an acoustic mat, the artist accentuates the contrast between the weight of the metal and the lightness of what might be referred to as a relic. He also reminds us that these metal fragments were discovered by listening very carefully; the past rises again if we pay attention to it, if we are prepared to listen. Inexhaustible material for van Luit, it is there to be transformed and given a new interpretation.
Ultimately, one can interpret this door-handle made of various metals excavated from misty borders as a powerful commemorative monument.