Bang! exhibitions open in Leuven

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Bang! exhibitions open in Leuven
Installation view.

LEUVEN.- Three huge world-class exhibitions opened to the public at M Leuven and KU Leuven University Library on Friday, 22 October. What ties it all together is a shared sense of wonder for the cosmos and its origins.

Did the Universe have a beginning? Will it ever come to an end? Where do humans fit in the grand scheme of things? For thousands of years, we have projected these fundamental questions onto the starry sky, turning to mythology, religion, art, and the sciences to help us unravel the mysteries of our origins and far future. The main BANG! City Festival exhibitions offer myriad perspectives on this theme that has captured imaginations throughout the ages. From the ancient figurines created 5,000 years before Christ to newly commissioned immersive contemporary artworks that respond to the most radical cosmological theories – BANG! has something for everyone.


> Date: FRI 22.10.21 -> SUN 16.01.2022
> Location: KU Leuven University Library

The exhibition, To the Edge of Time, blends scientific insights and modern and contemporary works of art in weird and wonderful ways.

The theory of the Big Bang unites the work of three brilliant European scientists, German-born physicist Albert Einstein and his ground-breaking theory of relativity, Belgian astronomer Georges Lemaître and his discovery of our expanding universe, and British cosmologist Stephen Hawking, who used the work of his predecessors as the building blocks of his Multiverse Theory.

To the Edge of Time demonstrates how a sense of awe yields new and sometimes radical, mind-boggling insights. Scientific objects lift the veil on how cosmologists uniquely approach and process information and manifest new, trailblazing ideas. Explore the origins of the Big Bang theory in Georges Lemaître’s sketches; read originals letters penned by Albert Einstein, and seize a one-of-a-kind opportunity to decipher Stephen Hawking's mysterious blackboard of equations.

On the art side, it's clear that artists look at the universe and our role in it in poetic, idiosyncratic, provocative, and sometimes downright funny ways. What ties these multiple perspectives together is an endless awe of the cosmos and a fervent desire to understand it better.

To the Edge of Time presents works by internationally renowned artists and young, up-and-coming talent. Exhibition artists include: Haseeb Ahmed, Phoebe Boswell, Constantin Brâncuși, Rohini Devasher, Maurits Cornelis Escher, Andy Holden, Gavin Jantjes, Jackie Karuti, Melanie King, John Latham, Liliane Lijn, London Fieldworks, René Magritte, Kazimir Malevich, Cornelia Parker, Katie Paterson, Dawit L. Petros, Sarah Pickering, Leo Robinson, Semiconductor, Conrad Shawcross, Clare Strand, Thomson & Craighead, Stephan Tillmans, Suzanne Treister, Troika, Georges Vantongerloo, Jeronimo Voss, Mark Wallinger, Charmaine Watkiss, Grace Weir, and Ni Youyu.

Curators: Thomas Hertog (KU Leuven) and Hannah Redler Hawes (freelance curator London, UK)


> Date: FRI 22.10.21 -> SUN 16.01.2022
> Location: M Leuven

Imagining the Universe is rooted in the eternal sense of wonder inspired by the cosmos and explores how this manifested in Europe and the Middle East – from the prehistoric era to the 18th century and the Age of Reason.

What is our place in the universe? Mythology, religion, science, and the visual arts – all have come up with different answers to this fundamental question, ranging from the formulaic to the fantastic. A hundred incontrovertible masterpieces catch our timeless awe in the act.

The exhibition opens with the timeless tradition of stargazing, of humanity wondering what those points of light can tell us about the origin, shape, and meaning of the vast and unfathomable universe. A series of spaces offer a fascinating glimpse into the wide range of answers that have been posited to these pivotal questions over the centuries. Geographically speaking, the exhibition runs the gamut, from the Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman traditions to Muslim and Arab scientists who catapulted astronomy light years into the future.

Next up is a discovery of incredible depictions of the zodiac, intriguing calendars, mind-boggling worldviews, and baffling horoscopes that illustrate humankind’s age-old fascination with the predictive possibilities of celestial cycles.

The arrival of trailblazers Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton on the scene and their new observations and innovative ideas put old beliefs to the test. Telescopes and meticulously precise calculations led to new insights and heralded fundamental, often ground-shattering shifts in human understanding.

This breathtaking exhibition displays masterpieces from over 45 Belgian and international collections, including the London National Gallery, the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, Madrid's Patrimonio Nacional, and the Vatican Museums. For several pieces, this will be their very first showing in Belgium, with some having undergone conservation treatment especially for the exhibition.

Curator: Jan Van der Stock and KU Leuven’s team Illuminare


> Date: FRI 22.10.21 -> SUN 20.03.2022
> Location: M Leuven

Imagining the Universe isn’t the only cosmos-inspired exhibition at Museum M. Richard Long's solo exhibition will also be debuting. This internationally renowned British artist is enthralled by the universe and sees it, in addition to nature, as one of his main sources of inspiration.

Long repurposes natural materials such as stone and wood in his sculptures, as archetypes of the universe and the cosmos. He often makes them underway, on his long walks, as traces of his passing and transformation. The geometric shapes that make up these pieces simultaneously emphasise the order and multiplicity of the cosmos. They can be taken as metaphors for existence and an expression of his thoughts on places, travel, distance, time, space, and movement.

Monumental sculptures enter an intriguing conversation with photography and textworks at M. Richard Long is also creating two new mudworks especially for this event. The works are made of mud, applied by Richard Long – quite literally – by hand. His process is simple and intuitive; he applies mud to the wall, allowing it to splatter and drip down under gravity’s influence. The mudworks allude to basic elements of the universe – a planet, soil, and water.

Curator: Eva Wittocx (M Leuven)

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