Ives Maes

FreeSpace 2004
Recyclable Refugee Camp is a mobile living unit which is made of biological polyesters. It consists of structures such as shelters, latrines and fountains. R.R.C. is built in conformity with the regulations of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. The material is an organic mix of dried hemp and resin with a natural colour pigment. After a set date the camp will degrade and become a fertile compost. There is no need to remove the sites and by spreading new installments the surrounding ecosystems are never overburdend. RRC is an inexpensive, easy and nature-friendly product for humanitarian interventions.

But rather than being a worthy solution for grave matters it tackles the ethical imperative that encourages art to intervene in the world. Recyclable Refugee Camp is a cynical remark on contemporary hyper-ethics in arts and beyond. It is a critical reflection about the truce between art and morality. An ironic attempt to make a 100% ethical correct art-piece.

This results in a utopian camp, a gated community for all kinds of refugees. A land of plenty, with dwellings, fresh and fake lawns, wall units for privacy or imprisonment, ornaments, roads and fountains. An XL-urn for partially burned human remains, a pleasure park and defence mechanisms. As a kind of new form of art: the A-social art. - Ives Maes

FreeSpace 2005
There were times when an artist could quietly withdraw to his proverbial ivory tower. Nowadays
art too is required to prove its value, and artists do better to present themselves as elevated social workers who streamline communication between people and make life more agreeable with all sorts of products and services. Every now and then voices are raised as people ask themselves why government subsidies should be granted to an art that is 'elitist' and 'useless' without any return on investment. All this motivated Ives Maes (1976) to try and develop an art that was ethically correct in every way.

His Recyclable Refugee Camp (RRC) links the refugee problem to environmental issues, thus killing two birds with one stone. The installation comprises all the necessary components for constructing a refugee camp, such as tents, latrines and wells. Moreover, these elements are all made of biological polyesters, a mixture of shredded cane and wood resins which gradually disintegrate to form rich compost. In this way the burden on the environment is reduced to a minimum and is directly in keeping with the guidelines of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, which in fact stipulate that refugee camps should never be made permanent. Is all this cynically intended? Well, the idea of an extra large urn for partially burned human remains, even if it does have the form of a fine baroque vase, is hardly cause for celebration. And although they do have a humane quality, there is something decidedly unpleasant about biodegradable anti-personnel mines.

Nevertheless, in all honesty one cannot help but suspect that a very real compassion and even a large measure of idealism lurks behind all these cynical comments. Indeed Ives Maes is not against socio-artistic projects as such, but advocates an abstract, minimal and/or conceptual art practice that maintains a critical potential precisely by distancing itself from everyday life. Following earlier presentations at the Brigitte Weiss gallery Zurich and at FLAC© in Genk Ives Maes also developed the RRC project in 2005. He launched a fundraising appeal in CIAP with the aim of obtaining further support for RRC activities. Moreover he exhibited several drawings in which he explored the tourist potential of refugee camps, among other things. He further developed this idea in a web project and in a presentation at the Connections travel agency in the context of the Super! triennial in Hasselt. - Peter Pollers


RRC add #1
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10.10 to 31.12.2004
13.02 to 01.05.2005
13.02 to 01.05.2005
13.02 to 01.05.2005
17.11 to 02.12.2012
17.11 to 02.12.2012
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