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Raquel Maulwurf develops installation 'The Carbon War Room' for the Gemeentemuseum
Raquel Maulwurf, Moving landscape XXXIV, 152 x 264 cm, houtskool, pastel op museumkarton, 2016 (foto Peter Cox) Courtesy Livingstone Gallery.

THE HAGUE.- Raquel Maulwurf (Madrid, 1975) developed the installation 'The Carbon War Room’ especially for the Gemeentemuseum. It arose from the desire to physically create the depth that is evoked in her charcoal drawings in three-dimensions. By working with a very large format and creating wall drawings that cover several walls, she previously captured the feeling of ‘walking into a drawing’. This third dimension was also added literally from the moment she began scratching the museum board she uses for her drawings with a box cutter. The installation in the museum’s Projects Gallery enables Maulwurf to take the final step.

The term ‘The Carbon War Room’ refers to the organisation Sir Richard Branson founded in 2009, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create a post-carbon economy. Seventy years earlier, in 1939, The Cabinet War Rooms, the underground bunker of the British War Cabinet under Winston Churchill, were put into use. Both War Rooms symbolise Maulwurf’s fascination for mankind’s destructive urges: the devastation of his own habitat by war and ecocide.

The installation 'The Carbon War Room’ consists of a diamond-shaped black box that reaches to the ceiling and encloses a dark landscape of coal. This ace of diamonds (diamond is pure carbon) is Maulwurf’s Carbon War Room, a visualisation of an apocalyptic landscape, based on the ever-burning coalfields in India. However, looking at these endless hills they are also reminiscent of the so-called Trichtergelände (crater landscapes) around Ypres during the First World War or the Trümmerfelder (fields of ruins) of World War II, as portrayed in Maulwurf’s drawings.

The central installation is flanked by monumental charcoal drawings from both her war and nature series. Thus, the work 'Louisiana' references the impact of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and 'Black Sea' oil disasters like Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. There are also works from series like FLAK (Flugabwehrkanone), Going Nuclear, Burning, Moving landscape and Colliding galaxies. A number of interventions have taken place in the space as well.

Finally, The Carbon War Room represents the artist’s studio. The place where the artist wages war armed with charcoal, the first artistic tool ever, on blank paper. The word ‘carbon’ is derived from the Latin word for charcoal (carbo). Charcoal results from the carbonisation of wood, and is essentially pure carbon. In the end, both the studio and the artist are literally covered with a layer of carbon.

Maulwurf’s work is in the collections of the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, Museum Voorlinden Wassenaar, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Teylers Museum Haarlem, Stedelijk Museum Schiedam, Museum van Bommel van Dam Venlo, Rijksmuseum Twenthe and numerous private and corporate collections.

Maulwurf’s solo exhibition is accompanied by a publication entitled Dark days Bright nights. As well as reproductions of the works in the exhibition and other items drawn from her extensive oeuvre over the last ten years, it contains essays by Benno Tempel, Director of the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, and Jeroen Dijkstra of the Livingstone Gallery. Published by Hannibal, 160 pages, €35.

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