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Founded in Paris by Helen Evans (* 1972 UK) and Heiko Hansen (* 1970 Germany), after graduating from the Royal College of Art, London in 1999.
Location: Site Oud Sint-Jan
20 May - 18 October 2015
A high voltage mast has fallen into the water at Saint John's Hospital. Into the canal. In the centre of Bruges. You hear a ghostly electrical hum, spluttering crackles, clicks and a loud hiss. High voltage cables that have been ripped loose dangle dangerously. Flashes of light shoot into the water while the power appears to seep away into the canals.
This work by HeHe is electric, but also visual high voltage. The mast makes something we usually do not or simply refuse to see abruptly visible: the power that supplies our cities and keeps them turning but that is an abstract element for many. Something that comes from far beyond the city. And that arrives underground. Undercurrent.
But while our power and the way in which it is generated are being profoundly questioned, the technology of high voltage transport using cables and pylons has not changed since 1920. In an empty landscape it is both a form of pollution and an elegant piece of engineering. Here in the city it almost appears to be a metal monster that has fallen from the sky. And it seems to bellow: "Yes, this fine medieval city also runs on electricity". And has done for the past century. And the supply of power to our megacities is one of the greatest environmental challenges in the 21st century.
Undercurrent is blatant but, as a result, not without poetry or even humour. The way in which HeHe literally allows symbols and metaphors to coincide with the reality also naturally undermines our reality in a light-hearted manner. Perhaps we should not simply view this work as shocking or disturbing. Perhaps we can also find this visual and auditory pollution beautiful in this historic oasis. Is it a way for us to reconcile ourselves to the possibility of catastrophes? A HeHe experience!
(© Text: Walking Guide, Bruges Triennial 2015)