Tambor Vertical N'água
Upright Drum In Water
Protagonist in Upright Drum In Water is the age-old Montezuma cypress or ahuehuete* (Taxodium mucronatum) 'El Sargento' in Chapultepec Park in Mexico City, which is believed to be planted around the year 1460, in pre-colonial times. To many native people of Mexico this species is sacred, and associated with authority. In 1910 it became the country’s national tree. But due to heavy drought and pollution it is considered dead since 1969. However, as a symbol this tree lives on, deeply rooted in the centuries of history and memory it represents. But what and how do we remember? What is dead or alive?
Upright Drum In Water is built up from a collection of footage which was recorded repeatedly at the same moment of day during an artist-in-residence period of 6 weeks. Each time the tree was captured from the same angle, but with different types of cameras and lenses, intertwining the own personal memory with the memory and identity of a nation.
(*) Nahuatl; metaphorically extended meaning: "upright drum in water".
Pieter Geenen (°1979) is an audiovisual artist, photographer and filmmaker based in Brussels.
His work revolves around places, communities and events situated between appearing and disappearing, forgetting and remembering, destruction and resurrection, the utopian and the dystopian. They are subject to imperialism, war, oppression and persecution, migration, economic changes, globalisation, powers of nature, etc. Through strategies of inversion, mirroring, repetition, deconstruction and restructuring he approaches landscapes, spaces and elements where and around which people gather, coexist or live in conflict. They connect people and places who don’t seem to share a common ground at first sight and remain merely exotic to the western mind. However, working across communities and locations activates potential new readings of the past and the present, and opens our understanding of concepts like land, borders, colonisation, (im)mobility, belonging and identity.
His practice reflects his interest in the potentiality of the gaze by exploring the relations between duration and memory. With his observational and place-based practice he aims to bring the ever evolving world to a standstill, a pause, where doubt arises, by manoeuvring between the imagined and the real, the static and the moving, image and sound. In that process he employs different media and technologies which often fail to live up to their inherent promise. Instead he embraces these mistakes, imperfections, errors and flaws.
A selection of solo exhibitions: Eté78, Brussels (BE); Argos, Brussels (BE); Annie Gentils Gallery, Antwerp (BE); Musée d’Ixelles (BE); V2Vingt, Brussels (BE) and beeldende kunst Strombeek/Mechelen (BE). Selected group exhibitions: International Film Festival Rotterdam (NL), Biennale de l’Image Possible (BIP), Liège (BE); M-Museum, Leuven (BE); La Capella, Barcelona (ES); FRAC Basse-Normandie, Caen (FR); Argos, Brussels (BE); Médiathèque FMAC, Geneva (CH); Be-Part, Waregem (BE) and CIAP, Hasselt (BE). Selected screenings: New York International Film Festival (US); Hong Kong International Film Festival (HK); VIDEOEX, Zürich (CH); Doclisboa (PT); Images Festival, Toronto (CA); EMAF, Osnabrück (DE); EXiS Festival, Seoul (KR); FID, Marseille (FR); Rencontres Internationales, Paris/Berlin/Madrid (FR/DE/ES); Centre Pompidou-Metz (FR) and Beursschouwburg, Brussels (BE).
He was awarded the 2007 Input/Output Art Prize and the 2011 Art’Contest Art Prize.
His work is part of the collections of the Flemish Community; Argos, Brussels (BE); Colección INELCOM Arte Contemporáneo, Madrid (ES); Emile Van Dorenmuseum, Genk (BE); and different private collections.
Together with Meggy Rustamova, Sirah Foighel Brutmann and Eitan Efrat he is a founding member of Messidor, an artist run organisation founded in order to discuss, to question and to practice the value of joining forces in today’s artistic realm, in Belgium and abroad.