Made in Europe10 October 2015 till 17 January 2016
Photographer Kim Bouvy (1974) has been commissioned by Bureau Europa to study the specific reciprocity between the industrial history and identity of Liege and Maastricht.
Both cities are of considerable importance to the footnotes of European history. In 1817, the Dutch King, William 1st, sold the Prince-Bishop of Liège’s summer castle in Seraing to the sons of William Cockerill, an English industrial entrepreneur and skilled engineer. They then laid the foundations for the first coke blast furnace in Belgium, thus introducing the mass-production of iron and steel and sparking the Industrial Revolution on the European continent. These events were paralleled by Petrus Regout, who, in the same era, started his family-run steam-powered glassworks in Maastricht. More than a century later, the Maastricht Treaty was signed in Maastricht in 1992, thus consolidating further European integration.
The contemporary face of Europe emerges from the connections typical of these two contexts: industrial stagnation and disengagement. Their once prominent industrial role has been played out through an endless process of mergers. Operating within the international flows of capital, cheap resources, migrant worker populations, and global economics, multinational companies no longer connect to the local context of available resources and labour. Under these conditions, how do these two cities in the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion – once closely connected by religion and trade – shape, or rather reinvent, their social and economic identities?
Starting at the Cockerill Castle in Seraing, Bouvy followed the river Meuse to Maastricht, looking at the successive landscapes that have emerged along the riverbanks from the time of the industrial revolution to the present. The river Meuse acts as a timeless connector of ‘décors’ that are both generic and informed by local histories. In Seraing, the now redundant furnaces (owned by Indian steel giant ArcelorMittal) stand silently next to worker communities, off-highway shopping malls, waste incinerators, and logistic hubs in development, all of which would clash with the picturesque landscape of the ENCI marl quarry in Maastricht.
From this sequence of fragmented cross-border industrial landscapes, one can read the struggle of a post-industrial society in flux; one that needs to constantly adapt to its economic and social conditions. The route ends at Bureau Europa, a villa in the ‘Timber factory’ that was once part of the Sphinx empire of ceramic, glass, and crystal production owned by Petrus Regout and Sons.
In the context of her own work, Kim Bouvy will also present ‘networks and connections’: a selection of people and organisations actively engaged in discussing urban issues specific to Liège. Their achievements can provide new narratives and insight into the long-term processes of integration and regeneration in the Euregio and ideally reveals their common and reciprocal background against which they emerge.
This project is part of RECIPROCITIES - the extra muros programme of RECIPROCITY design liège, International Triennial of Design & Social Innovation, initiated by The Province of Liege / Culture and OPMA.
Opening: Saturday 10 October 2015, 17:00
Exhibition: 17 October 2015 - 17 January 2016
Entrance: €5, €3 for students, free admission for Museumjaarkaarthouders
Location: Bureau Europa
Made in Europa
Photos of the opening of the exhibition