For his first exhibition at Meessen De Clercq, Maarten Vanden Eynde (°1977) presents his work Industrial Evolution consisting of 100 photographs of industrial objects manufactured in the British city of Birmingham. This series of images opens up a process of reflection about the economic globalisation that is constantly reshaping our world. The artist offers this observation of a society of yesteryear to attempt to find ways of understanding tomorrow's society.
Industrial Evolution reveals in a subtle way the decline of one of the most prosperous industrial cities in the 19th century world. Some years ago, the majority of factories left Birmingham for other parts of the world where wages were lower. This relocation, which is now affecting Europe as a whole, seems inevitable and appears as the "chronicle of a death foretold".
Like a contemporary archaeologist, the artist visited many factories with a view to gathering together the objectives which are now longer being produced in Birmingham. He was able to collect a hundred, and made sure to take two of each article. By presenting the objects in pairs, the artist clearly alludes to Noah's Ark. Noah's mission was to save the animal species from the deluge, by taking on his Ark one pair of all the animals living on Earth. One might say that Maarten Vanden Eynde arrived just at the right time to collect these objects before everything disappeared in the meanders of relocation ...
By photographing them in pairs, he also emphasises the impossibility of finding two absolutely identical objects. By observing them carefully, we notice that there is always a slight difference between them and that the perfect resemblance is just an illusion. The images are very clear, photographed with precision, without any spectacular registration effects, without any printing tricks or personal marks. The objects seem to present themselves without any additional involvement by the artist.
In the final analysis, these photos become portraits of objects. Although this recording is systematic (with the elimination of any "atmospheric romanticism"), the artist nevertheless introduces the nostalgic idea that these objects were produced and reproduced many times by man - the worker - but they are now doomed to disappear due to the new global imperatives of modes of production. This uniformisation conceals a questioning abut the political issues at stake in delocalisation, and the ensuing socio-economic consequences.
The book "Industrial Evolution" is being published to coincide with this exhibition.