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Coming World Remember Me, Palingbeek Ypres, 30 March - 11 NOV, 2018

Visit Koen Vanmechelen's landart installation for ComingWorldRememberMeat the Palingbeek in Ypres.

Remembering, helping, reflecting and connecting. That is the aim of ComingWorldRememberMe (CWRM), a project commemorating the one hundredth anniversary of the First World War. The ultimate goal of CWRM is the production of 600,000 small clay statues, one for every person killed on Belgian soil during WW1, by the end of 2018, the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. The statues are made by the public, aided by international workshops. At the end of the project, they will all be part of a land art installation of artist Koen Vanmechelen near the Palingbeek in Ypres, former no man’s land.

The combined engagement of all the people involved in the project transforms the land-art installation into a symbol of peace that transcends both time and geographical borders.

Artist statement Koen Vanmechelen

CWRM wants to give a voice to all those who were silenced on the battlegrounds of Flanders, one hundred years ago. This participatory installation consists largely out of 600,000 clay sculptures. Personalized dog tags with the names of the deceased resurrect them. The statues are very much a 'communal' work, having been made over a period of four years in various workshops by many different people of many different nationalities. Their statues depict a bent human form, which seems to be lost in contemplation. At the same time, the figure also seems to be bracing itself, as though preparing to face a challenge. The pronounced backbone underlines the power of the life force, the determination to carry on, the desire to build and not to destroy.

Making one of the statues was a process of healing and of growing awareness. A medication against the darkness of our time. It obligated the maker to take a deep plunge into the past. Giving a place to forgotten memories is one vital way to build for a better future. In this way, ComingWorldRememberMe warns us of the dangers of war. A generation that grew up without war, might easily be tempted to think a little bit of war is not a bad thing. The 600,000 today tell us that war is never a solution.

Four years long people have been creating CWRM, for four years we have intensely remembered the dead. The future, the Coming World, is depicted in the installation by the giant egg that is on the point of hatching, as a precursor to the birth of a new mankind. A collective plunge in the past is the foundation for the Pangea of our new generations. For a world in spiritual connectedness, arisen out of a Big Bang. The egg as mass, the people as energy.

And as nature has gradually reclaimed this no-man's-land, so peace can eventually radicate war. But without ever forgetting. In the end, what remains is silence and a desire to break the chains of the past, a longing for collective transformation and harmony.

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