In this work, the Swedish artist duo Goldin+Senneby investigate the socio-economic and political histories of the state, imprinted in its soil.
The artists have acquired a plot of land in Belgium’s old mining territory which they conceptualise as a theatre stage. The area outlined on the floor of the exhibition space corresponds to this plot; a piece of highly-polluted land on top of the former coal mine of Zwartberg near Genk, located between a growing business park and a slag heap for which the city is trying to gain UNESCO World Heritage status as an industrial landmark.
‘The Plot’ unfolds as a double unearthing. The script (in the form of a poem) is written by Flemish poet Mustafa Kör, whose father migrated to Belgium and worked in the coal mines. The poem re-evokes the memories, hopes and desires of newcomers that came as workers and helped build the economy of Belgium in the post-war period, intertwined with the deep history of the Carboniferous-era plants that decayed into coal over millions of years and continental shifts.
The setting is designed by Johan Hjerpe and drawn directly on the walls of the exhibition space. It depicts plant specimens from the Carboniferous forests found in fossils in the area of the plot. These plants date back 350 million years, to a time when the plot was located in the equivalent of Central Africa today. They are drawn using only coal.