In 2003 the In Flanders Fields Museum came up with The Names List that aims to compile a register of all victims who lost their lives because of the First World War in Belgium. It was estimated that the Names List would include 600,000 names in 2018: The artist Koen Vanmechelen and the curator Jan Moeyaert came up with the idea of commemorating every victim in a single large-scale land art installation.
From 2014 to 2018, by moulding 600,000 sculptures out of clay, thousands of people from across the world took part of the making of the installation ComingWorldRememberMe. Each and every sculpture represents one of the 600,000 victims who lost their lives due to WWI in Belgium.
From 30 March 2018 the 600,000 figures of ComingWorldRememberMe are set up in the Palingbeek park (Zillebeke) between two large works of art by Koen Vanmechelen.
The land art installation is spread out over no-man’s-land and The Bluff, site of one of the most intensive battles ever in Flanders. From 30 March till 11 November, the land art installation is open to the public.
At various spots along part of the walk around the installation, you can listen to war poetry. You can end the walk on the observation bridge, from where you have a wonderful view of this impressive land art installation.
CWRM wants to give a voice to the dead and consists largely out of 600,000 clay sculptures. Personalized dog tags with the names of the dead bring them back to life. The statues are very much a 'communal' work, having been made over a period of four years in various workshops by many different people of many different nationalities. Their statues depict a bent human form, which seems to be lost in contemplation. At the same time, the figure also seems to be bracing itself, as though preparing to face a challenge. The pronounced backbone underlines the power of the life force, the determination to carry on, the desire to build and not to destroy.
Making one of the statues was a process of healing and of growing awareness. A medication against the darkness of our time. It obligated the maker to take a deep plunge into the past. Giving a place to forgotten memories is one important way to build for a better future. In this way, ComingWorldRememberMe warns us of the dangers of war. A generation that grew up without war, might easily be tempted to think a little bit of war is not a bad thing. The 600,000 today tell us that war is never a solution.
Four years long people have been creating CWRM, for four years we have intensely remembered the dead. The future, the Coming World, is depicted in the installation by the giant egg that is on the point of hatching, as a precursor to the birth of a new mankind. A collective plunge in the past is the foundation for the Pangea of our new generations. For a world in spiritual connectedness, arisen out of a Big Bang. The egg as mass, the people as energy.
And as nature has gradually reclaimed this no-man's-land, so peace can eventually radicate war. But without ever forgetting.
Artist Koen Vanmechelen