The Plot (Utopia Bloemen)

The Plot (Utopia Bloemen) addresses issues of ecology and economy. Like 19th century plein air painters, who left the studio for the field and depicted nature in a non-idealized form, Goldin+Senneby have developed their own method for both material and immaterial unearthing of land: The artists excavate the idea of land ownership and cultivation, extracting carbon deposits and transforming this former plant matter into wall drawings.

The area outlined on the floor corresponds to a plot of land on top of a former coal mine in Belgium, which the artists have acquired. Flemish poet Mustafa Kör, whose father migrated to Belgium and worked in this very coal mine, has contributed a poem, which re-evokes the memories, hopes and desires of newcomers that came to Europe as workers in the post-war period, intertwined with the deep history of the Carboniferous-era plants that decayed into coal over millions of years and continental shifts. The wall drawing reconstructs a Carboniferous forest based on fossils found in the area of the plot. These plants date back 350 million years, to a time when the plot was located in the equivalent of Central Africa today. They are drawn using only coal.

The custom-built plein air box includes (1) the title deed for the plot of land, which will be transferred to the buyer of the artwork; (2) the poem by Mustafa Kör; and (3) stencils and charcoal for producing the wall drawings.

Commissioned by FLACC production residency in Genk, the work was first exhibited at Kunsthall Extra City, 2018. At Art Brussels 2019 the presentation won the Discovery Prize and was listed as Top 5 to see in ArtReview. In 2023 the work was exhibited in The Accursed Share at Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh.