POWER, LUST AND ZINC

The industrial landscape and the myth of Moresnet

PRESS RELEASE 2 SEPTEMBER 2021

 

This autumn, Bureau Europa, platform for architecture and design, presents the story of the element zinc. The exhibition traces the development of one of Europe’s earliest industries and its particularly dynamic border and land politics. In this context, we also encounter the ambition of European unification expressed in Esperanto, the zinc lobbying conducted in Parisian salons and through affairs, the craft and curiosity for innovation that galvanised the zinc industry, and the traces of the Euregion in the landscape. Close to the current Three-Country Point, previously the Four-Country Point, there are still shared emotions and memories but also concerns about soil quality, the zinc violet and the possibility of mining’s return.

For this exhibition, Bureau Europa has collaborated with many partners and institutions in the Euregion. All elements are diligently researched to reveal improbably fantastic narratives and capture contemporary perspectives on borders, materials and crafts. In Power, Lust and Zinc, we detail the charms of Fanny Mosselman, the fourth country at the Three-Country Point (Drielandenpunt), the unique flower that every Limburg citizen knows, and our joint quest for the birth of the universe: all connected by the zinc mined from our land.

In this exhibition, curator Remco Beckers, in collaboration with research architects Dear Hunter, visualises zinc’s decisive influence on the development of local cultures, borders and landscapes in the Euregion. Since the Napoleonic era, the industry has often been at the heart of social engineering and its effect on the surrounding nature. On a small scale, the zinc in the Meuse-Rhine Euregion clearly demonstrates how economic and political interests shape human life worldwide.

The roofs of Paris Visitors enter a fascinating world: in the basement’s darkness, visitors walk across Parisian rooftops, the most salient example of zinc architecture. The fact that Emperor Napoleon III and Baron Haussmann, the visionaries behind the French capital’s redesign, allowed themselves to be seduced by this material speaks volumes about the often-bizarre history surrounding the zinc from Kelmis. If it weren’t for Fanny Mosselman, daughter of the Vieille Montagne zinc company director and a high society lady in the Parisian salons, zinc might not have become so quickly prevalent in the 19th century, and our world would look very different today. In a world without zinc, artist Irmel Kamp’s photographic series of East Belgian zinc building facades would never have come about.

Four borders On the ground floor, visitors encounter an array of sculptures, ornaments, tools and photos that illustrate zinc’s versatility and the multifaceted impact it had on people’s daily lives. The farming village of Kelmis was suddenly enclosed in new borders, and its 3.44 square kilometres declared neutral territory. The newly formed Neutral Moresnet, the fourth country that turned the Three-Country Point into a quadripoint, existed by sheer coincidence. Its inhabitants acquired a new identity only because they happened to live on top of land containing extraordinary wealth. They were suddenly and unwittingly confronted with political turmoil and industrial interference in their lives, which otherwise would have remained unaffected. But despite this country's inadvertent existence, the inhabitants soon fostered a sense of nationality. The village doctor played a central role in this sentiment and wanted to make Neutral Morenset the world’s first Esperanto-speaking country, named Amikejo (Place of Friendship).

The zinc violet After continuously being drawn into the past, the visitor also arrives in the present. Accounts of the first zinc factories dealings with angry winegrowers are strongly reminiscent of the modern-day legal battles of multinationals such as Tata Steel and Shell. Zinc, like any industry, has a considerable impact on nature and the landscape. But the effect is not always negative. Zinc production contaminates the ground with heavy metals, but this also creates a breeding ground for a unique flower, the zinc violet, which only grows naturally in this region. And where large zinc mining dried up the earth, making it unappealing for human habitation, a new protected landscape has arisen. Industry has clearly played a role in climate and landscape change, but at the local level, there are always two sides to a coin.

Looking to the future Today around Kelmis, there are hardly any reminders of the Vieille Montagne zinc industry or Neutral Moresnet. The former country has almost become a legend, and the zinc mines are closed. The people who stayed behind can only remember the nation and its mines with nostalgia. But there is also a fear that the mines may reopen: the minerals from which zinc is extracted also contain elements used in modern electronic devices and are therefore even more valuable. The people of Kelmis still live on very prosperous land! What does that mean for their future? Will the mines ever come back? A photo series by artist Filippo Ciriani beautifully portrays this mixture of nostalgia and fear.

Public programming Accompanying this exhibition is an extensive programme of lectures, workshops and walks in collaboration with various partners.

a. The zinc identity of Maastricht The most interesting insights into zinc and the infamous history of zinc oxide as seen through the city’s historical and contemporary architecture in a compact city tour.

b. Zinc nature trail in collaboration with artist Stefan Cools and the Very Contemporary network is a walk in Bunde’s countryside guided by the buried remains of industry.

The Vieille Montagne zinc company, the new De Zinkmeesters guild and the architecture of an artificial language such as Esperanto are the subjects of workshops and lectures taking place in the autumn.

The exhibition Power, Lust and Zinc runs from Saturday 4 September to Sunday 12 December 2021 at Bureau Europa, platform for architecture and design.

Curator Remco Beckers | Spatial concept Dear Hunter and Frida Stillman | Graphic design Janneke Janssen and Lyanne Polderman | Production Ilona van den Brekel | Communication Yongblood & Studio Buttons

Partners Brouwers Zinc | Filippo Ciriani | Stefan Cools | Elements 2021 | Thomas Eyck | IKOB | Irmel Camp | Maison de la Métallurgie et de l’Industrie | Vieille Montagne Museum | Museum Zinkhütter Hof | NedZink | State Archives in Eupen | Very Contemporary | De Zinkmeesters

 

NOTE TO EDITORS

Download more information in the media kit

Or contact communicatie@bureau-europa.nl

Willemijn Doelman 0629623388 or Emmanuel Merkus 0615883644

 

Love in a Mist                         

the architecture of fertility

PRESS RELEASE 17 DECEMBER 2020

In the exhibition Love in a Mist - the architecture of fertility the woman stands at the core in the story of the architecture and the politics of fertility. This exhibition looks at the agelong quest to subdue women and their nature. The built environment surrounding us seems neutral at a first glance, but is really wrought with social opinions and political agendas about the worldwide political movement against abortion and against fertility. The expo also looks at women's history in Limburg, telling the stories of Elisabeth Strouven, the women of the Sphinx factories, the Midwifery School in Heerlen. Love in a Mist - the architecture of fertility opens 14 February 2021 to 15 August 2021 at Bureau Europa, platform for architecture and design in Maastricht. With works by Desirée Dolron, Bernie Krause, Atelier van Lieshout, Next Nature Network, and more...

Curator and architect Malkit Shoshan of Harvard University brings her research and successful exhibition Love in a Mist (Harvard Graduate School of Design, 2019) to Maastricht, where it gets extra Dutch and Limburgish layers. Doctor and activist Rebecca Gomperts (Women on Waves) plays a central role, her work and her remarkable methods to help women get a safe abortion aboard her ship just one of the inspiring stories in this exhibition. Gomperts was justifiedly named on of 2020's most influential people by Time Magazine.

Mevr. de Architect The public programming will include a series of lectures, organised in collaboration with Merel Pit, editor-in-chief of Mevr. de Architect (A.ZINE). Women architects are invited to talk about their work, ambitions, and their vision for architecture. A number of scholars will talk about typically feminine insights in architecture history. The lecture series will coincide with the eponymous publication which is to be released in spring.

Suppression of woman and nature The name of the expo alludes to the flowering plant Love-in-a-Mist and the stories surrounding this plant. Not only did it have the reputation of seduction, but also symbolises virginity and underscores woman's intimate relationship with nature. Woman and her 'typical knowledge' of nature have traditionally been problematised. Control over a woman's body was deemed a social issue. Abortion was a taboo, but fertility improvement, contrariwise, was encouraged. The synthetic growth hormone DES is an example of this encouragement, even though it was proven later that DES had particularly destructive side-effects for pregnant women. As it was also derogatorily applied in agriculture, the way a woman's body is treated is reflected in the exploitation and degeneration of nature.

Worldwide a political battle is ongoing and the right to abortion is at stake. In the Netherlands too woman's position remains a relevant issue: at work, in medical practices, and in child care, for example. This exhibition takes you from the abortion clinic to the womb, from the courthouse to the farmer's fields and the swamp, as imagined and told by activists, legislators, scientists, artists, and designers.

Love-in-a-Mist The exhibition also tells the story of Wilhelmina van de Geijn, who in 1937 became one of the first women in the Netherlands to graduate in natural history. This got her the curator's job at the Natural History Museum in Maastricht, in spite of the city council's malcontent. Still, Van de Geijn has a lot of heritage in Maastricht: she modernised the museum and together with landscape architect Mien Ruys redesigned the gardens into a recreation of a Cretaceous landscape. Wilhelmina lived the rest of her days in the famous Huis op de Jeker, with the best view on the museum.

The women of Limburg There are strong women anywhere and anytime. Independent communities of women have always existed, such as the autonomous beguinages for single women; the sisters who were able to care for and educate other women; the ladies' abbeys that housed the most knowledgeable women in Europe; the factory workers who inspired a nation. It is no coincidence the first women's strikes in the Netherlands happened in the same Maastricht where Dutch women could also vote for the first time.

Zooming in on architecture and on the social structures, the space that has been made for women, it becomes clear there are many factors that limit women to exercise their abilites. At the same time, the ladies on the barricades struggle, fight, and overcome these limitations and turn them to their advantage and their emancipation.

The exhibition Love in a Mist - the architecture of fertility can be visited from Sunday 14 February to Sunday 15 August 2021 at Bureau Europa, platform for architecture and design. The address is Timmerfabriek, Boschstraat 9, 6211 AS in Maastricht. Bureau Europa is opened Wednesday to Sunday, 12pm to 5pm.

Colophon
Curator and spatial designer Malkit Shoshan | Curator regional context Remco Beckers | Supervision Floor van Spaendonck | Production Ilona van den Brekel | Graphic designer Sandra Kassenaar | With activists, artists and designers Atelier van Lieshout, Desirée Dolron, FAST, Rebecca Gomperts, Bernie Krause, Zacharias Kunuk & Ian Mauro, Next Nature Network, Tabita Rezaire, Diana Whitten.

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 NOTE TO THE EDITOR

For all press-related questions or appointments, please contact

Emmanuel Merkus, 06 15 88 36 44 or communicatie@bureau-europa.nl

Via communicatie@bureau-europa.nl you can also contact us for questions concerning the content of 'Love in a Mist'

For images in high resolution, please contact :                                                          Remco Beckers,  r.beckers@bureau-europa.nl

Floor van Spaendonck is Bureau Europa’s new director

22 July – 1 October 2019
Starting 1 October 2019, Floor van Spaendonck will be the new director of Bureau Europa, platform for architecture and design. She succeeds Saskia van Stein, who, since 2014, was in charge of the Bureau and announced her departure in May to allow a smooth transition to the next period of the cultural plan. Bureau Europa is very grateful to Saskia van Stein for all of her work and dedication.

Starting 1 October 2019, Floor van Spaendonck will be the new director of Bureau Europa, platform for architecture and design. She succeeds Saskia van Stein, who, since 2014, was in charge of the Bureau and announced her departure in May to allow a smooth transition to the next period of the cultural plan. Bureau Europa is very grateful to Saskia van Stein for all of her work and dedication.
 
Floor van Spaendonck is no stranger to the world of architecture, design, and culture. She previously worked at Het Nieuwe Instituut (the national institute for architecture, design and digital culture, which was the successor to the Nederlands Architectuurinstituut (NAi) in Rotterdam) and until recently was the director of the Cinekid Festival.

In her broad cultural practice, Floor van Spaendonck has gained extensive and wide-ranging experience in architecture biennales, spatial planning issues, innovation processes, debates, research, cultural policy, and international cooperation.

Floor van Spaendonck continues to hold a variety of social and cultural positions, including memberships of advisory and supervisory boards, and is involved in various cultural projects in an advisory and developmental capacity.

As a presentation, debate, and knowledge institution for architecture and the broader design practice, Bureau Europa is in the next phase of its development. Starting from a dynamic architectural remit that covers Maastricht and the broader EU region, Bureau Europa managed to secure a place in the local, national, and neighbouring European agenda in the field of architecture, the spatial, the designed environment, and design.

The challenge now is to build on this, to strengthen Bureau Europa’s position with regard to design practice and future scenarios for Maastricht and the Euroregion, and to maintain a high level of public engagement.

This will include formulating strong ambitions for the coming years in the context of the new period of the cultural plan. By intensifying cooperation with its current network and attracting new partnerships and programmes, further impetus can be given to the agenda and the renewal.

This new phase also requires programming decisions and vision. The new director will draw up plans for this.

Consultations will be held with the municipality, province, and government, both about these plans and about financing that can support Bureau Europa’s ambitions.

The Supervisory Board of Bureau Europa is confident that Floor van Spaendonck will be able to put her knowledge, experience, and network to good use for Bureau Europa, starting with the new period of the cultural plan.

Bureau Europa, platform for architecture and design, was established in 2006 as NAi Maastricht, a branch of the former NAi in Rotterdam. Since 2013, the organisation has operated independently as Bureau Europa, platform for architecture and design.

As a knowledge institution, presentation platform, and network organisation, Bureau Europa presents exhibitions, lectures, workshops, city tours, and other discursive activities in the fields of architecture, urban design, the designed environment, and design, for a generally culturally engaged public. From a social perspective, Bureau Europa wants to promote knowledge production and talent development within the cultural domain. These objectives materialise in cultural projects, both within the institute and in public spaces. Bureau Europa focuses primarily on the shared social agenda of Europe and the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion.