Gijs Van Vaerenbergh’s installation “Labyrinth” at C-mine art centre in Genk, Belgium, is a sculptural installation that focuses on the experience of space.
The work originated from Pieterjan Gijs and Arnout Van Vaerenbergh’s interest in fundamental architectural typologies; earlier installations were for example based on the city gate, bridge, wall, dome… Gijs Van Vaerenbergh views the age-old form of the labyrinth as architecture in its essential form; a compositions of walls that define spaces.
The installation measures 37.5 by 37.5 metres and consists of 1 kilometre of walls (186 ton), made out of steel plates that are 5 mm thick and 5 m high. Out of this structure, large elementary shapes are cut – a sphere, a cylinder, a cone… – to break down the logic of the labyrinth and create new spaces and unexpected perspectives. These Boolean transformations convert the walk through the labyrinth into a sequence of spatial and sculptural experiences.
At the same time, the cut-outs function as “frames” to the labyrinth. Throughout the monotonous succession of high corridors, the viewer is suddenly confronted with openings that reveal what is on the other side of the walls. Seen from some certain perspectives, the cut-outs are fragmentary, whereas from other viewpoints the entire cut-out shape is unveiled. Finally, the cut-outs also frame fragments of the environment, which become points of orientation throughout the walk.
“Labyrinth” does not only generate a variety of spaces and visual perspectives to those that enter the installation, it also interacts with the context of C-mine in a different way: ascending the old mine shafts, one can witness the structure from above and look down upon the wandering visitors – a point of view that is generally reserved for the creator of a labyrinth.