Maarten Vanden Eynde

Around the World

2017
40,015 kilometres cotton thread, A320 jet engine, wood and metal
210 x 210 x 500 cm

Around the World is a huge bobbin in the shape of a rocket. There is a total length of 40,015 kilometres of cotton thread spun around it; the average circumference of Earth. War and cotton have a lifelong connection, starting with the use of guncotton to fire arms and make propulsive explosives for torpedo warheads, mines and grenades. It is used as aircraft fabric covering, both for the first flight of the Wright brothers, the air battles of World War I, and even for the famous Hindenburg airship. It was also used in the first gas masks as protection against chemical weapons, making cotton play a key part in the taking, as much as in saving of human lives. Around the World symbolises the significant role that cotton played and still plays on a global and personal scale, being the first material humans come in contact with after birth, when they are wrapped in cotton cloth, and in many cultures also the last material to prevent leakage and contamination after death.

British/ European cotton manufacturing was the first major industry in human history that lacked locally produced raw materials, making it the first globally integrated manufacturing industry. Cotton was the fuel for both the Industrial Revolution in the United States and England and it had a mayor influence of the creation of wealth throughout most of Western Europe. It made cotton plantation owners become the richest and most powerful men in the New World, allowing them to invest in the production of astronomical observatories (Lowell), universities and stock markets (The Cotton Exchange). The telescope of the Lowell observatory was used by Apollo astronauts to pick a landing spot on the moon, and futures were being introduced in the New York Cotton Exchange in order to invest in crops that were not planted yet.
Around the World visualises the potential of encircling the globe but at the same time it shows that the end and the beginning are located on the same spot, no matter which path you choose. What goes around, comes around.