I was one of several international artists invited to make an installation for the exhibition, Heilige Geest (Holy Ghost) in Lier, Belgium. The exhibition’s title came from the original name of the complex of buildings that was now the new home of the artists’ initiative, Voorkamer. In the Middle Ages, the barn in the complex had been a surplus grain and vegetable storehouse overseen by the Church to feed the poor.
I took the Holy Ghost, depicted as a bird in religious imagery, as my theme. The attic of the barn, which had been unused for some time, was littered with pigeon droppings and feathers. I imagined it as a place of visitation. I used a preserved bird’s body as a stencil, placing it in the center of the room and pouring a large circle of flour around it.
I collected an assortment of “typical” objects from the streets and shops surrounding the building. These included special “Lier cakes” from the bakery, old Belgian franc coins, pillows, etc. I lashed these into a bundle on top of a wooden “sled”, placing the preserved bird on top. I recruited a local man dressed in worker’s clothing to attend the opening, dragging the object sled through the crowd. People were generally disturbed by his presence, not sure what he was doing there among the art crowd and wondering if he was homeless or mentally disturbed. In his pocket he carried small, worn cards with the word “saved” typed on them. He was instructed to give a card to whomever he wished.