On 28 September 2007 two works of art by Ayşe Erkmen and Ann Veronica Janssens were installed on The Korenmarkt square.
From now on, the street scene of the Korenmarkt will look totally different. On Thursday 28 September 2017 two slimline works of each 20 metres high, made by the internationally praised artists Ayşe Erkmen and Ann Veronica Janssens, were installed on the square. These two works of art put Ghent even more on the map as an international city of culture.
Ghent focuses on art in the street
With the arrival of the new works of art on the Korenmarkt Ghent has two more iconic landmarks. The works are not only the culmination of the reconstruction of the Korenmarkt, but also of the strong commitment of the City of Ghent to bring art into the streets. Art touches people, it brings them together, incites them to think about it, gives meaning and asks questions. Opening up the city as an exhibition space and creative lab gives Ghent its unique character and its international reputation as a city of culture.
The past few years the City of Ghent has realized several big art projects in public space, including The Virgin and The Passers-by by Michaël Borremans, the light art installation The Blue Birds at the Predikherenlei, and the work by Garutti at the Sint-Veerleplein, where the street lighting flashes each time a child is born in a hospital in Ghent.
But also numerous murals by graffiti artists, the street art festival SORRY, NOT SORRY, the interactive music project 1-2-3 piano and the various art integrations in the neighbourhoods and districts are examples of the commitment of the City Council to bring art in the street. The works of art on the Korenmarkt are the provisional highlight of an already rich tradition.
The Korenmarkt as an iconic city square
The Korenmarkt is the economic and cultural-historical heart of Ghent. A place of and for everybody and consequently worthy of two cityscape landmarks. That’s why architect Paul Robberecht planned the realization of two impressive vertical works of art at the reconstruction of the square in 2010 in order to situate the square opposite the three historic towers and the City Pavilion. A working group of experts was set up to select artists who would create these works. Ann Veronica Janssens and Ayşe Erkmen were unanimously put forward because of their international artistic merits and their commitment. This resulted in an intensive cooperation between the city, artists, producers and engineers.
Assets for the city
The works of art communicate in a balanced way with the historic architecture on the Korenmarkt. They do not devalue it, on the contrary, they add value to it. These two works of art put Ghent on the map again as an international city of culture.
Again and again the city dares to focus on art and culture in public space. To make sure that everybody gets involved in art. These two works of art will change and enrich the city forever.
Broche by Ayşe Erkmen: an ode to historic Ghent
Ayşe Erkmen was born in Istanbul, but currently lives and works in Berlin. Her work gained applause all over the world and it was outstanding at prestigious Biennales, such as those of Venice, Istanbul and Shanghai, and at the Skulptur Projekte in Münster. The work designed by Ayşe Erkmen for the corner of the Donkersteeg looks like a glittering, upright golden chain of 20 m high. Elegant, playful and sparkling. She drew her inspiration from the historic character of Ghent for her design. Therefore, the links in the chain have the shape of the window frames of historic buildings on the Korenmarkt.
HD 400 by Ann Veronica Janssens: a homage to contemporary architecture
Ann Veronica Janssens was born in Folkestone and currently lives and works in Brussels. In her work she experiments with the intangible, with light, space and sensory experiences. The HD 400 sculpture that embellishes the open space next to Saint-Nicolas’ Church, is also a strong example of this approach. Her work is an austere and sleek contemporary answer to the historical review of Ayşe Erkmen and consists of a giant steel beam of 19 meters high, of which one side has been polished into a mirror.
At this mirror side the sculpture becomes as it were a ray of light that reflects the surrounding area and creates a play of shadow and light on the Korenmarkt. From certain perspectives the work almost seems to disappear: the cityscape is split up into two parts by the reflection of the environment in the background.
The name HD 400 refers to the H-profile, a type of girder that forms the foundation of many modern buildings. By using this shape Ann Veronica Janssens pays homage to contemporary architecture and she creates a contemporary and light counterbalance for the solid Saint Nicholas’ Church.
The work of Ann Veronica Janssens was sponsored by Arcelor Mittal. They delivered, among other things, the high-quality steel that was developed in their company and is used all over the world in architectural and technological tours de force, such as the new World Trade Centre in New York. By supporting cultural projects Arcelor Mittal wants to strengthen its ties with the region of Ghent.
The preparation and realization: a unique piece of engineering work
The realization and installation of the works of art were preceded by a complex and thorough study because the works of art had to fulfil a number of conditions. The material must be durable and resistant to wind and weather. The works must be stable and reinforced against the impact by wind, tension, tractive and compressive forces. The atypical large, slender shapes and the whole of physical and urban limiting conditions required a meticulous preparation, both in the study and in the effective production and installation of the works of art.
For that reason, the plinths, which were placed when the Korenmarkt was finished in 2010, were not strong enough to anchor the selected works of art. The aboveground section of the plinths was removed and a new foundation concept was developed to anchor the works of art sufficiently firmly. For this purpose Cultuur Gent and the Service for Building Projects closely worked together with different research and control agencies from home and abroad.