Cratere, De Vleeshal, Middelburg NL

Cratere, De Vleeshal, Middelburg, 2010

Cratere, Italian for ‘crater’, was the title of this exhibition at De Vleeshal, the first in the Netherlands by the visual artist Francesco Arena (b. 1978, Italy). The exhibition was associated with The Forgotten Bombardment, a programme of events taking place this summer in Middelburg.

In many of Arena’s installations, materials such as stone, sand, and wood form what appears to be an objet trouvé but is in fact a creation of the artist. The installation at De Vleeshal, curated by SBKM/De Vleeshal director Lorenzo Benedetti, referred to the bombardment that destroyed a great deal of Middelburg’s historic centre 70 years ago. The destruction wrought during the war was the theme in­vestigated by Arena, whose work often makes reference to history and major events that left their mark on collective life.

The point of departure for this project was a photo connected with a bombing in an unknown place be­tween Zeeland and Belgium during the Second World War. In the foreground, a crater is visible amid a ruined landscape. The artist calculated the volume of earth that must have been blasted out of this cra­ter and included it in the exhibition. For this purpose, he constructed an installation made of clay-filled scaffolding. The mass of the materials served as a visual metaphor for the destruction and absences left by the bombardment.