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Vrijdagmarkt 22

In the 16th century, Christoffel Plantin (1520-1589) ensured that “through work and determination” his Officina Plantiniana grew into the largest publishing house in the world. He published numerous works by prominent scientists and humanists, including Justus Lipsius (1547-1606). In 1576, Plantin moved his business to the Vrijdagmarkt, after which his family would live and work there for another 300 years. This location later became Museum Plantin-Moretus and is UNESCO World Heritage since 2005. 

Room 1: Small drawing room

Walking into the small drawing room (Room 1) one sees Sofie Muller's (°1974, St. Niklaas) series Fungus Anatomicus (2022), presented in antique cabinets. The series consists of oil paintings on old topographical maps, visualising fungi and their correlation with the human body. Since 2015, Muller has been collecting botanical fungi models, which led to the series Fungus Genetalia. For FINIS TERRAE, the artist was inspired by topographic maps, in which the network of navigation points reminded her of the Wood Wide Web – an endless underground network of fungal threads (hyphae) that connect all life on earth. This network has been active for millions of years and will continue to do so long after man disappears from the planet. It is the ultimate form of 'end-beginning', a recurring cycle of death-birth-life. After medieval connotations with witchcraft, a renewed interest in the study of fungi arose during the Renaissance. Thanks to the art of book printing, this knowledge could be dispersed, and Mycology became an important branch of study. Subsequently, Muller enters into dialogue with the permanent collection: a selection of woodblocks with different types of mushrooms.  

Room 2: Large drawing room

In the 'the large drawing room' (room 2), the monumental wooden table forms the pedestal for an installation by Louis De Cordier (°1978, Ostend). On the right side he placed Metatron Core (2009), a bronze geometric figure – conceived out of circles, straight lines and cubes – that constantly refers to itself (cf. METAtron). This mysterious object unites (just like the museum) art, science and religion. It can be found in ancient religious writings, in works by Da Vinci and Dürer (among others), and has been researched by scientists such as Pisano. Since it has been studied for centuries, it can be seen as a messenger of human intellect, an archaeological artifact for the future.


In the Time Tablets series (2022), the artist translates geometry into a simple interplay of lines. Each clay tablet shows a variation of the golden rectangle (an application of the golden ratio). The artist was inspired by, among other things, clay tablets from Mesopotamia (possibly the first supports of writing). This installation reflects on old and new ways of transferring information and how these can be preserved for the future. The printing technique of De Cordier forms an interesting dialogue with the history of the museum. 

Room 3: Second large drawing room

In the second 'large drawing room' (room 3), Philip Aguirre y Otegui (°1961, Schoten) places a trail of worn out and turned-over slippers, collected in Senegal in the 1990s. Exodus (1998-2022) touches a nerve. Looking at the 'flip flops' – in our Western view a cheap disposable product – it is striking how often they have been repaired, and therefore cherished. The winding path with large and small footprints calls for reflection. Are they remnants of a life that people have left behind? Do they show the way to a better existence or rather to an unreachable Utopia? Moreover the installation enters into a dialogue with the theme 'Utopia', which is further explored in the display cases. 

Thomas More published Utopia in 1516, a title that has gained an iconic status into the 21st century and in which Antwerp played an important role. In display cabinet 1, one finds the first edition (1516) and the first Dutch translation (1562). Abraham Ortelius's map of Utopia from 1595 is the only known example to date, in which he closely followed the representation in the book. Showcase 2 is dedicated to travel in the 16th century. Finally, show case 3 contains a monumental etching by Aguirre y Otegui. Reflecting on current migration policies, the drawing shows an overcrowded city on the one hand, a barren desert landscape on the other, and the island of Utopia in the center, surrounded by fences and police boats. 

Room 4: The shop

In 'the shop' (room 4) you will find a copper signpost with blank arrows, Directions (2022) by Kris Martin (°1972, Kortrijk). The work refers to the enormous impact of the printing press in the 15th century. Ideas could spread all over the world, leading to a wider dissemination of knowledge and the reduction of illiteracy. And this at a time when the modern world was still fully developing and America was still unknown territory. On the other hand, the blank arrows refer to the oversupply of information and direction options, which means that we sometimes lose our way and get lost in the chaos of over-information.

Room 6: House the wooden compasses

'House the wooden compasses' (room 6) contains the installation Les villes Invisibles (2022) by Elise Peroi (°1990, Nantes). Inspired by the book Vivre de paysage or L'impensé de la Raison by François Jullien, Peroi explores – through the process of weaving – an all-encompassing vision of the world, where everything that surrounds us  “n'est plus affaire de “vue”, mais du vivre”. The artist herself writes about this: “My work is a search for a way of how translating the breath of the landscape, or the landscape as an inhabited place, in my art. (…) Just like in a forest, the voids in my work leave space for light, people and the emergence of new life. As humans, we are part of the planet, which can in fact be seen as a large landscape.” The installation correlates with the pastoral tapestries, on which idyllic representations of landscapes can be seen.