Between the beginning of this century and today, massive economic and technological progress took place. In Digging up the Future, the third iteration of his retrospective exhibition, Maarten Vanden Eynde (1977) examines the relationship between this unbridled growth spurt and its impact on the earth. After Mu.ZEE in Ostend, Belgium (2021) and La Kunsthalle Mulhouse in France (2022), an extensive selection of works from the past 20 years will be shown in Museum Eicas, the European Institute for Contemporary Art and Science, in Deventer, The Netherlands. Next to 12 works that featured in one of the previous iterations, there are new 13 works that were previously not presented in either of them. Also the monograph Gravend naar de toekomst, which was published on the occasion of the retrospective exhibition by Mercatorfonds in Dutch, French and English, will be present.
The exhibition - like the publication of the same name - shows work made between 2000 and 2022. Two decades in which our life, work and thinking were radically transformed by the internet, big tech and social media, among other things. Meanwhile, the world's population increased exponentially and with it our consumption and energy use. The consequences are obvious: extreme weather events, finite resources, an abundance of waste and loss of biodiversity.
Vanden Eynde looks back from a distant, unknown future and questions our lifestyle - with incessant cycles of production and consumption. What are we doing? And... in whose interest is it? In doing so, he realises that the era we live in is also referred to as the Anthropocene: with the Ancient Greek word anthropos (human) emphasising that we humans have never before had so much influence on the future of the planet.
Homo sapiens or homo stupidus?
Long ago, humans distanced themselves from Neanderthals as homo sapiens. With the term "homo sapiens sapiens" we went one step further: it stands for not only the knowing but also the thinking human being. Like an archaeologist, Vanden Eynde brings past, present and future together by analysing and examining objects. By looking at how materials are mined, transported and transformed. Inequality and territorial practices are linked to technological and financial power structures. The question is: are we blinded by the myth of progress and is Maarten Vanden Eynde right when, with a wink, he renames humans 'homo stupidus stupidus'?
The IJssel Biennale 2023 will also take place during the exhibition: a biennial international outdoor exhibition featuring artworks along the IJssel. This year's title is 'Grondtonen' and focuses on the relationship between man and landscape. Twenty-seven artists have been invited, including Maarten Vanden Eynde. His installation can be seen in park 'Het Engelse Werk' in Zwolle from 17 June to 17 September.