Edith Dekyndt show explores intersection of science and domesticity


A major retrospective at Wiels spotlights a Flemish artist who has built up an international reputation for her abstract art works, installations and videos

Mud and blood

Edith Dekyndt is an artist intrigued by the simplest natural processes, from the way mud or blood dries, to the length of time a soap bubble can be held in the hand. Yet this fascination with surfaces also allows her to explore deeper ideas, from conflict and colonialism to the ethics of science.

Born in Ypres in 1960, but most recently dividing her time between Tournai and Berlin, Dekyndt has slowly gathered an international reputation for her abstract art works, installations and videos.  Indigenous Shadow, the major retrospective that opens this month at Wiels in Brussels, is long overdue, providing an overview of more than 20 years of the artist’s development. 

The first floor begins with works built from dust, precious metals, dried mud and burnt objects. There are also liquids, with cotton curtains drinking coffee by capillary action (pictured), and “A Portrait of Things”, in which two tangled fabric shapes, reminiscent of intestines, are alternately soaked until completely waterlogged and then hung up to dry. 

The works on the second floor often strive to make visible things concealed in the elements. This includes pieces built around air currents and light, along with Dekyndt’s intriguing project to film beneath the surface of the Dead Sea, drawing colour out of its variations in salinity.

It’s also here that you will find new pieces inspired by Wiels’ history as a brewery. Moisture from the air reacts with copper in “The Deodants 02”, staining the wall, a reference to the huge copper brewing kettles that still stand in the building’s foyer.

Meanwhile, in the “Biography of Objects” series, the same wild yeasts and bacteria that give Brussels’ lambic beers their distinctive character have been grown on carpets. This strange intersection of science and domesticity is a theme that runs through Dekyndt’s work. 

February 5-April 24 at Wiels, Van Volxemlaan 354, Brussels

Photo by Edith Dekyndt