Mariana Castillo Deball Filip Dujardin liggend
Mariana Castillo Deball

Firesong for the bees, a tree of clay

Mariana Castillo Deball has created an architectural, sculptural installation entitled Firesong for the bees, a tree of clay. It combines a colony of bees with the history of beehives.

10:00 – 18:00

The legs of this playful structure are made from curiously shaped ceramics components, stacked one on top of the other. The wooden platform at the top is home to a colony of bees. The artwork is informed by the archaeology of beekeeping: the history of humans and bees and how people developed methods and structures for harvesting honey. The ceramics draw on the apiculture traditions that preceded the introduction of wooden hives. Up until 1852, beehives were made of straw, clay and fired ceramics. They often had unique decorations that reflected their owner’s cultural beliefs or personality. The introduction of standardized wooden beehives was a double-edged sword: they brought 4,000 years of individuality to an end, but made harvesting the honey easier. The new hives allowed for increased production and greater profitability.

In bringing together a multiplicity of beehive shapes from various historical and geographical contexts, Firesong for the bees, a tree of clay acts as a 'repository' that 're-pollinates' the city with forgotten iconographies, technologies and architectures from the history of apiculture. A cross between a display structure and a critical device, the work invites viewers to reflect on why certain objects become obsolete and the extractive human-centric processes that lead to the extinction of certain species. It is an invitation to sense and learn from the noises, smells and histories of more-than-human intelligences.

These layers of possibility add to the long history of transformations linked to the Sebrechtspark. Starting as a vegetable garden of the Grauwzusters of Saint Elisabeth in the 15th century, the site fell into dereliction and even became a car park in the 1950’s, before opening to the public in 1982.

In her research-driven practice, Mariana-Castillo Deball often examines how the cultural and functional significance of objects changes over time. Her work takes shape through collaborations with artisans, archaeologists, anthropologists, scientists or museums. In the bee-friendly city of Bruges, the artist has collaborated with Biesous/Margot Hinnekens and Uther Smis, a young, regional, beekeepers’ initiative, who will care for the bees during and beyond the five months of Spaces of Possibility. The project is executed with respect for the bees’ wellbeing and the biodiversity in the park and the city. At the end of the exhibition, the structural elements will be donated to Bruges’ beekeepers.

Portret Mariana Castillo Deball
© Victoria Tomaschko

Mariana Castillo Deball (b. 1975, Mexico-stad, MX) lives and works between Berlin and Mexico City. In her art practice, she weaves diverse disciplines and influences into installations and sculptures that explore and interrogate the role of the object. With found elements and natural materials such as wood and clay, she creates fresh layers of meaning. She is guided by ethnographic research, archive material and the exchange of knowledge with makers who often remain invisible to the public at large.

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