de Nieuwe opdrachtgevers

les Nouveaux commanditaires

Corey McCorkle – Schema

Patrons - Arena inhabitants
Curator - Win Van den Abbeele
Deurne, Belgie, 01/12/2012

The context

The neighbourhood council wants to give Deurne its own image and strengthen the identity of the different neighbourhoods. As a first step, the various districts of Deurne were examined in more detail in order to make this ambition a reality. The municipal council approved an official division and the designation of the neighbourhoods. The districts known as Black Eagle, Kronenburg, Ten Eekhove, Conforta, Arena, Langbaanvelden or Tawny Owl are now also recognized by the city council. The less well-known areas of Deurne also have their own names, such as the industrial area of Kruininge, the airport or Boterlaar-Silsburg.

The ambition to work more with neighbourhoods has been an important political priority and will gradually take shape. A statue, fresco or other "emblem" can help to give each neighbourhood its own character. The New Patrons have been appointed to work with neighbourhood associations and residents to create a number of new artistic benchmarks.

Arena is one of those neighborhoods. Neighbourhood residents and associations have worked with the New Patrons to create a landmark for their neighbourhood.

Arena Square has a central function not only for the district, but also for the districts of Muggenberg and Epiphany. The arena in this square - well lit - could be used as a landmark.

The redevelopment of this square was planned for 2012, with implementation in 2013. The main characteristic of the square is its large dimensions.

The sponsors wanted a strong landmark on the square, a work of art that connects different generations and different groups of residents.

Corey McCorkle

Corey McCorkle, an American artist, was introduced to the group of sponsors.
Corey McCorkle's interest in architecture and human infrastructure is reflected in a work that includes architectural interventions, installations and the production of sculptures, photographs and films. McCorkle's practice reacts and interacts with the environment.

The sponsors met the artist through Skype sessions, who later visited Deurne and the Arena district. The artist and the sponsors have decided to continue working together.

The commission

Arenaplein's work is inspired by the experiences of N. Erlandson (1884-1964) in the northern California desert, who alone created a complete sculpture park, inaccessible to visitors, by manipulating different tree species. In their design, McCorkle's three trees refer to the beliefs that inspired the architect Braem in designing his social housing complex in the neighbourhood.

Each of the three installations consists of a number of cuttings, planted in a circle. As they grow older, they are linked to each other, and weave together into a decorative pattern. Of course, such a process takes a number of years before the "image" becomes visible, and involves regular and sustained care.

It is precisely these elements that McCorkle wants to focus on: if the Arena district, with its diverse population, wants to become a community, it will need constant attention and care, with an uncertain outcome. The result will only be fully appreciated by the next generation.

Corey McCorkle's work, which will "grow" on the Arenaplein, consists of three trees that appear sculpted. In earlier works, the artist had already drawn inspiration from the forced growth of plants, such as Japanese bonsai techniques. The alienation effect gives them a completely different meaning and challenges our conventional ideas about the almost ritual function of monuments and other "images" in creating a meaningful place. McCorkle examines the role of visual symbolism in maintaining a sense of community.

In the meantime, it is important that the Arenaplein "get together" around the work and that all groups of residents, by organizing a recurring meeting, market or celebration, give meaning to Corey McCorkle's strange intervention and transform it into a familiar symbol.

McCorkle would have preferred to entrust the care of his work to specific groups, schools, youth clubs and others, who would pass on the necessary knowledge and procedures over a period of several years to complete the work. However, the technicality of the expert graft is such that it must be performed by specialists. For this purpose, the company Vartago and the spin-off De Boomdokter were found. It is an organization that mainly deals with tree maintenance, advises and conducts research on trees in all their aspects.

The inauguration

On 1 December 2012 the artwork 'Schema' by Corey Mc Corkle was festively delivered. Despite the freezing cold, many local residents were present. With warm wine and soup they could warm themselves in fire baskets. The tree doctor, who will guide the work of art in its growth and will graft and prune it in the right way, also held consultation hours there. Local residents could go there with all their questions about the tree.

On 3 September 2013, the tree doctor came by for a first pruning and grafting session of the work of art. He carefully twisted the still small twigs so that the tree could continue to grow into a sculpture that is characteristic of the neighbourhood. The doctor will visit the Arenaplein every six months to carry out these interventions on the tree.