Let's Expand The Sky – in Black and White
Boelproject / Boel Project, 1985
"A 450-ton bridgecrane of the Boel-shipyards elevates 21 times 2 autocars and exposes them to the elements: WIND, LIGHT and WATER as direct experiences for the public in the coaches" (Hugo Roelandt)
Roelandt made installations, but was no installation artist: in his wor the unique and temporary always prevail. His largest project, realised with a bridge crane of 450 tons at the Boel Shipyards in Hoboken, Antwerp, was neither a performance nor an installation. It was a typical Roelandt-like ‘post performance’, which combined a massive infrastructure with a very temporal event – of which only a series of photos and a video remain.
The Boel-project uses, as a reference to ship building, the original forces that play a role in shipping: water, wind and instability. These three experiences are combined with other primary elements like gravity and the ethereal qualities of light and sound. Man almost always stands with his two feet on the earth. The Boelproject wants to take him or her out this condition for just a moment, to bring it closer to what happens on a ship: the first hand experience one has with not a fixed soil under you, but a liquid. In spite of the movement of this planet man thinks in stable terms about his or her condition. Only by bringing on a different viewpoint, like boarding a ship, or in this case being lifted from the ground, does the inherent instability of our condition become visible and do we notice that there is movement. The Boel-project wants to create such a unstable condition as reference to that on a ship. This is not done in the classic theatrical way. The Boel-project is no form of representation. The public has to experience the forces. Not on an intellectual, but on an emotional level. The project tries to use in an artistic way the relation of man with what he experiences.
< Boel-shipyards, 850 jaar Hoboken, Antwerp, October 1985
(Abstracts from Hugo Roelandt: Let's Expand The Sky, red. Mark Holthof, Occasional Papers, London, 2016)