Vincent Laute The White White SeriesJul 6th to Aug 10th 2013

It is a question, basically, of representing a critique of our time, based upon retrospective analysis.
Michel Foucault

Like every other country Belgiums´ history offers unresolved criminal-cases, moments where politicians came too close to seedy contacts and cases where the state basically exerts its power and pushes through unpopular projects.

Often those moments remain unresolved in the collective memory, with rumours bubbling and surfacing from time to time. The truth, even in hindsight, stays obscured and often nobody steps forward to shed some light onto this obscurtiy. Those being accused try to dissolve the accustions by putting a conspiracy theory label on them. And those setting up those „conspiracy theories“ often too readily implement the existence of dark forces pulling the strings. What both sides don´t want to admit or see is that, more often than not, the failure comes through human imperfection, or if you want to put it more bluntly, incompetence.

In the White White Series artist Vincent Laute reminds us of some of these moments in Belgian history. Unpopular megalomanic projects that resulted in the demolition of whole neighbourhoods, utopian pipedreams that ended in crass failure and the amalgamation of politics and dubious circles. In their pristine white these scale models offer us the possibilty to keep an academic distance to the topic while reminding us of the events and the necessity to critically analyse them retrospectivly to bring them to a conclusion.

„The Manhattan Project“(2005) 1:2000; 60x36x7cm

In the years 1927-1930, a radical Modernist Belgian architect called Victor Bourgeois started drawing the plans for a 'Greater Brussels', based on a strictly rational application of the principles of separation of traffic and rezoning.

The plans would then be forgotten for some time. When they resurfaced after 1958 they had taken a more capitalistic inspired approach, with the aim to transform Brussels into a „Headquarters-Capital“. In 1970 the first of the eight WTC-Towers was errected in the District of the North-Station.

The driving force behind the planning at that time was Paul Van den Boeynants, former Prime Minister and in the Brussels city council at that time. His close ally in the task to push through the plans was his good friend Charlie De Pauw, a real estate developer.

Soon after the first Tower was built the concept was questioned by Belgiums leading architects. to which Van den Boeynants reacted with an article „Le gigantesque Manhattan“, rolling out a fantastic vision of a futristic neighbourhood with rolling sidewalks, helicopter taxis and elevated parks that would provide a recreational oasis for its inhabitants. No need to mention that the project was never realized and became synonymous with failed City Development.

„Palais de Justice“(2004)1:1400; 16x14x7cm

The Palais de Justice was built in between 1866 and 1883 after plans from the Architect J.Poelart. It was the biggest building that was built in the 19th century and is until today the largest courthouse on this planet, covering a surface of roughly 26.000 squaremeters. The megalomanic project is clearly a display of the new possibilites that came for architects with the industrial revolution and the usage of materials like steel. But unlike other buildings from the Art Nouveau era, its ecclectic style with the different column orders is also a reference to classical architecture and archeology.

The Building became immediatly unpopular with the population, since a large part of the Marollen needed to be torn down.

In 2010 a competition was anounced to redevelop the building with its 245 rooms, the largest being the „Salle des pas perdus“ of around 3600 squaremeters and 80m high.

„Cinéma Mirano“(2005) 1:50; 27x35x37cm

The cinema Mirano, a former art-deco cinema, became notrious when it was transformed into a nightclub in the 1980´s. It was a popular hangout for the young and beatiful from Brussels, but is also associated with sex-parties with minors that were alledgedly also attended by Politicians and Industrials, as well as other important decision makers. A kind of Brussels Bunga Bunga if you like.

In 1984 a son of a high Brussels Magistrat tragically died of an overdose in the club and in the unfolding leagal procedure the rumours came up that the Club Mirano also held the keys to the secret of the Brabant Killers.

“The Supermarket”(2005) 1:160; 62x50x6cm

At this supermarket in Aalst eight people were brutally killed and nine wounded by the notorious gang called the Brabant Killers It was the last act of a series of attacks on supermarkets in between 1982 and 1985, that left the Belgian public in a state of hysteria, bemourning 28 dead and leading to armed (military) police patrolling the streets and in front of supermarkets specifically.

The aim of the Gang never became clear but since the monetary gain during these raids was minimal in comparison to the brutality, it was alleged that it was right wing groups behind the attacks whose aim it was to create an atmosphere of paranoia leading to a police controlled state.

The true motives though were never found out also due to the strange handling of the case. For example it was moved to different district attorneys while the procedure was still ongoing. The mishandeling of the case was so severe that even lawyers involved in the case were publicly doubting the motives of the administration to move the case and thus opening the door for further conspiracy theories.

In the end there was never a satisfying conclusion and lot of the victims were left alone, with most of the questions unanswered. What the case did though was highlighting the dysfunctional Belgian juridical system.

“VW Golf”(2013) 1:24; 17x8x7cm

One of the most popular cars sold in Europe at the time it was also used by the Brabant Killers

“Atomium”(2013) 1:500; 18x18x20cm

Depicting the Iron-Atom the Atomium was constructed for Expo 1958, a time when the future was still a place where people where driving with atom powered cars and every home had its own small reactor. A vision that never came true.

If that was why it was left to deteriorate to such a bad state that it almost was torn down one doesn´t know. But after some intense lobbying the Atomium was finally renovated in 2004 and one of the most iconic buildings on earth saved.