Onze Kerk | And thus movement evolves..

Extra muros: Athina Ioannou, [Our Church], 2016 - Grimbergen Abbey Church, Brussels 

Public intervention 

In partnership with Museumcultuur Strombeek / Gent / 

Curators, Luk Lambrecht & Lieze Eneman 

Dimensions:  25m X 0,64 m
Medium: light aluminum rods, linseed oil immersions on canvas (2 yellows), steel rope, tweezers.

Edition : unique 

[In the middle of Grimbergen (Bruxelles) is the Abbey Church, or Saint Servaes, a beautiful, distinguished work from the late Baroque in Flanders. On the outside, the building volume looks compact and even somewhat unwieldy – without the extensive panache that we know from the grand baroque architecture in Bavaria or Austria. However, despite its plump appearance, the high space inside appears to look rather slender. The light is dim when I enter. Outside it is gray. Eminently in my field of vision I first see the altar – at the end of the nave and almost the full width of it. It's also as high as it can be. In its construction (white marble columns against glossy black stone) it resembles a theatre. Fairly high in the centre, flanked by man-sized statues of Peter and Paul, is a painting of the Assumption of Mary – she ascends. Further up, in the light of windows on the left and right, the altar becomes plus petit. The ornamentation there is also more graceful and lighter. Everything in that altar is so directed, of course, that there is an inescapable effect of a movement heavenward. This also includes the music : the lilting, curly sounds of an organ that fill the space to the top and then fade away above it.

In the space of that church, Athina Ioannou has made something that looks wonderfully quiet. Onze Kerk: Notre Église. Halfway through the church, the nave is crossed by the transept. From the center of the dome high above this celebration, Athina's work descends. On a light aluminum rod (eight parts of three meters each) she has mounted thin iron blades with triangular pennants at the ends, criss-crossed alternately at equal intervals. The pennants are made of cotton dipped in linseed oil. That is why they have an intense golden yellow color that also draws them sharply. They are so brightly colored that, even when the light is dim, the triangles appear sharply defined.

The sense of a dome, visually, is that it makes the space of the celebration appear higher. Due to the ingenious placement of windows, there is also a concentration of light there. Let's say: our eye is drawn to the indefinable. But from there, from that thin height, that tight string of yellow pennants drops down, against the upward rhythm of the church. They hang, strangely weightless, free in the middle of the celebration. You can see them from all sides and this way you see them in varying light intensities. Like a delicate melody, I saw them coming down when I first entered the Abbey Church – and that's how they linger in my head. [..]

[In de kerk] by Rudi Fuchs, 2016, De Groene Amsterdammer

curated by Luk Lambrecht & Lieze Eneman, in the context of the group exhibition, A Tiger Cannot Change its Stripes, Participating artists: Daniel Buren, Simon Hantaï, Athina Ioannou, Krijn de Koning, Michel Parmentier, Jacques Villeglé.

Photo © Dirk Pauwels 2016
Work © Athina Ioannou 2016


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