The Garden of Whispers
A site specific installation by Hans Op de Beeck for the Printemps de Septembre in Toulouse.
The oeuvre of Hans Op de Beeck is markedly multidisciplinary. He creates large installations, sculptures, films, videos, photographs, paintings, drawings, texts, theatre and music. Op de Beeck’s works are immersive and speak through staged, fictional environments and characters of our often difficult, tragicomic, absurd relationship with both time and space and each other. In his art he effortlessly blends beauty and ugliness, tragedy and humour.
Through our recognition of, and identification with the image, Op de Beeck seeks to offer comfort and quietude to the viewer. The latter is especially true for ‘The Garden of Whispers’, an almost magical installation, especially conceived for the monumental refectory of Les Jacobins. The installation ultimately became a kind of emotion-oriented courtyard, sculptured onsite; an inviting place that stimulates the senses and promotes introspection. The spectator walks over a swaying wooden jetty through hilly, sandy, scenic surroundings. In this setting, a number of small areas have been elaborated and present a number of serene figures that calmly perform small, quiet, everyday acts. From time to time, without speaking, they offer tea to the visitors.
Throughout the garden, a soundscape of whispering voices resounds. In a subtle and discreet manner, delicate ritual sounds and voices are mixed together, drawing near like memories. Scent plays a role here as well. The work incorporates numerous historical, religious and mythological references, yet first and foremost, it aims to offer a here-and-now experience, regardless of explicit references. This mysterious place, an entirely newly staged environment, is undoubtedly related to the many fictional places the artist has created over the past eighteen years, yet is also entirely different in its scale and the way in which it combines spaciousness and silent live performance.