“In the Midst of Infinity” — “Vlaamse Landschappen” Tiziana Caianiello
1 I am grateful to Dirk Pörschmann for his generous support while researching this article. 2 Author’s conversation with Günther Uecker, 25 May 2010. 3 Ibid.
In 1967, an extraordinary exhibition took place. It was called “Vlaamse Landschappen” (Flemish Landscapes).1 There were no works of art on display in a museum or gallery space. The exhibition venue was the countryside outside Mullem, a little village south of Ghent in Belgium, and the works on show were specially conceived to include the surrounding landscape. The artists responsible for the whole concept and the individual works presented were Günther Uecker and Jef Verheyen. The initial idea for the joint exhibition came from Jef Verheyen. He knew the owner of a kasteelke, or small castle, in Mullem, who ran a gallery there. The gallery owner was expecting the artists to come up with a conventional exhibition, and set about clearing the castle rooms to make way for the show. But his expectations were not fulfilled. The walls of the castle remained bare and the works created in the landscape were not suitable for sale — a situation that caused some embarrassment to Verheyen, who had negotiated the deal.2 The artists themselves also took responsibility for advertising the event, putting up posters and marking the roads leading to the village with white paint. At the same time, however, they removed a sign pointing to the “galerij kasteelke mullem” because they felt the term “gallery”, suggesting a conventional exhibition site, to be inappropriate.3 The exhibition was divided into six sections. It included a series of whitepainted wooden frames, which the artists placed one behind the other at increasingly long intervals. Then there were white sheets, either laid out on the grass or hanging from washing lines, a series of evenly spaced holes dug in the ground, and several rows of compressed bales of straw sprayed with whitewash. There was also a group of wooden hay rick stands, as well as a wooden bridge into which the artists had hammered nails. 185
monography of the works of Jef Verheyen