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A giant monolith for the Place Communale in Molenbeek

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2014-01-08 – When it was drawing up plans for the redevelopment of the Place Communale, the Municipality of Molenbeek-Saint-Jean wanted to give it an original artistic dimension by installing an artwork that was closely associated with the future face of this square, which is an important public space in the historic centre of Molenbeek.

Four artists were asked to submit proposals. Joëlle Tuerlinckx’s entry, which won over the panel of experts, is defined as an artistic intervention which causes you to consider the floor of the “open-air living room” described by the urban architects of A-Practice, who have been commissioned to redevelop the square. It is installed at the centre of gravity, calculated not in terms of the square alone, but in relation to the area of redevelopment in which all the work is taking place.

The work is a blue stone from Hainaut, a 12.5 tonne monolith from a quarry in Soignies which arrived by canal on Wednesday. It was transported as far as Molenbeek Lock in the hold of the barge La Molenbeek. From there it was transported by special convoy to the Place Communale. It will be buried there and will become, according to the artist, “the centre of gravity of the new square. A zero point is generally attributed to any architectural work in order to ensure its coherence: it is from this zero point that a building takes shape. Similarly, in the Place Communale, this stone will serve as a reference point for everyone involved in the construction work and this ‘Moment - Point zéro’ will appear on all plans and be taken into consideration in any future development.” The locals will be able to appreciate the work by imagining this colossal stone, only the top of which will be visible through a window fitted between the cobblestones of the Place Communale. They will be standing on Molenbeek’s zero point...

By transporting the stone as far as Molenbeek Lock, as close as possible to its final destination, the barge La Molenbeek has relived an earlier chapter in its existence... Previously named Risque and built in 1965, it became the property of the Municipality in December 2012. Molenbeek St-Jean Arts and Social Cohesion Centre is working to transform it into a floating multipurpose cultural space – an unusual initiative in connection with Molenbeek, Capital of Culture 2014.