A Temporary Monument, Brussels
For over 50 years now, anyone who drives into Brussels from the north encounters a giant concrete curved shape. Signal from Zellik is a concrete sculpture made by Brussels artist and architect Jacques Moeschal (1913-2004) and it has since 1963 been located at the place where today the E40 and the Brussels ring intersect. This structure is typical of Moeschal’s work, who was known for his monumental, architectural sculptures, inspired by progress and technology. The sculpture embodies the blind optimism proper to our Belgian post-war climate, in which cars and concrete were the determining factors for what everybody agreed was to be a brighter future. Because of this optimism, Signal from Zellik eminently symbolizes a specific worldview that characterized urban development from the sixties and seventies of the past century.
A Temporary Monument for Brussels formulates a contemporary answer to Moeschal’s beautiful, monumental sculpture – a new beacon for a new city. Over the last decades, our vision of the future has changed. Today, we agree that a city is not defined by concrete and cars, but by the people who live there. As much as possible, urbanists and city planners now try to use man as the criterion for the development of a city and its public space. Because a city is made by the people who live there, who temporarily come together in a certain place and from their combined characteristics form the heart and soul of a city. From this perspective, it seems only logical that a contemporary monument for the city also has a temporary character.
A Temporary Monument for Brussels was a contemporary monument for the city of Brussels, made by and for the people who live here and make the city. Similar to the changing dynamics that characterize Brussels, this is a monument that, within a permanent framework, changed throughout its existence. More specifically, this project comprised a series of large-scale banners that were reimaged every couple of months by another artist based in Brussels. The banners were permanently installed on Place Sainctelette. This area lies in the middle of one of the most important entrance roads to the city, close to a bridge connecting different neighbourhoods – Sint-Jans-Molenbeek, the new major projects around the canal and the district around the Maximilian Park – with the inner city of Brussels. Over a period of almost four years, A Temporary Monument for Brussels presented a series of changing presentations by eight very different artists, to foster a dialogue with the surrounding neighbourhood, and, like Moeschal’s Signal, temporarily functions as a new beacon announcing an ever-changing city.