From 1 January up to and including 30 June 2024, Belgium holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union. In accordance with the Belgian state structure, Flanders - like the other Communities and Regions - will assume its own explicit role during the EU presidency in the Council, but also by organising its own events.
In honour of Flanders’ contribution to the EU presidency, internationally renowned Flemish artist Koen Vanmechelen has created the installation Sweet Dreams, which will be on display at the Delegation of Flanders to the European Union during the presidency. This is an excellent opportunity to showcase Flemish art and culture to the many European partners who will be visiting the delegation during the presidency. Vanmechelen is known for his groundbreaking work.
With Sweet Dreams, the artist presents an installation that closely meshes with the presidency’s key principles: ‘innovation, connection and resilience’. “Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes”, states Vanmechelen. The four marble sculptures refer to a ‘different’ reality, as a metaphor for dreams and sleep; essential processes that enable humans to discover new worlds and break through boundaries.
A dream is a breakthrough that shapes a new reality — Koen Vanmechelen
At the centre is the sculpture series Collective Memory. It shows humanity’s connection to its environment. Three figures - human, animal and technology - rest on books representing rights and knowledge, the cradle of our society in both Flanders and Europe. Together, they depict the elements needed to understand tomorrow, across cultures, time and species, and look to a different future.
Watching over the sculptures is the transformed Medusa statue, which bears not only snakes but also chickens on her head. This Medusa symbolises energy and life, with chicken eggs serving as the basis for medicines and vaccinations in modern medicine. Vanmechelen’s Medusa is not a monster, but a healer who embodies the ability to both destroy and give new life.
To make the connection between the works of art and the European presidency, Vanmechelen refers, on the one hand, to Greek mythology, including Medusa. On the other hand, he has chosen works that deal with human rights and the various facets thereof. According to the artist, “it is the melding of mythology and the actual reality that brings us to Europe”.
With Sweet Dreams, Flanders invites us, during the EU presidency, to take an in-depth look at themes such as diversity, resilience, identity, evolution and sustainable coexistence.
What is truly unique about Flemish art is that it deals with global issues. We are less focused on the details, but we want to comment on society, which is also what we are known for in the world — Vanmechelen
Tijdens het Belgisch voorzitterschap van de Raad van de EU zetten we Vlaamse kunst, die internationaal veel aanzien heeft, extra in de kijker bij de vele Europese collega’s en partners die hier op de Diplomatieke Vertegenwoordiging van Vlaanderen bij de EU over de vloer komen. De werken van Koen Vanmechelen belichamen, letterlijk en figuurlijk, de krachtlijnen van Vlaanderen tijdens het voorzitterschap: innovatie, verbinding, weerbaarheid, en zijn dus een perfecte impressie voor onze bezoekers. Zijn werken vertegenwoordigen ook de sterktes van Vlaamse kunst, die globale maatschappelijke thema’s durft te bespreken — Sarina Motmans
1 January up to and including 30 June 2024
Delegation of Flanders to the European Union