Van Eyck academie

Open Studio’s Van Eyck — mapping an ecosystem

By Domeniek Ruyters for Metropolis M

In the main building, I end up in a talk by De Onkruidenier about the sugar beet, which has a precursor in the beach beet, a primordial plant that was resistant to salt water. De Onkruidenier has built a whole story around it and depicted it in a market display on the floor divided between two studios. The installation offers a combination of ecology and economy, with numerous playful moments of action, to make the transformation from seed to plant to yet another plant and food product (drink, sugar cube) optimally clear. A striking detail are the holes in the wall through which the artists involved play large assignments carved into wooden planks to each other. When I’m talking to one of the weedkeepers, a hand suddenly pokes through the wall and hands me something. After the explanation, I walk back to the other room to look at the so-called “pelleted” sugar beet seeds, which are industrially coated with a blue layer to make them easier to sow as grains. Like the beads of a bead necklace they lie in a petri dish.