Carlos Amorales, Coal Drawing Machine, 2012. Plotter printer, paper banners, charcoal, steel, and epoxy paint, dimensions variable

Manifesta 9

Genk, Belgium


The Waterschei, a former mining complex building in Genk, Belgium, is a wonderful relic and an impressive piece of Art Nouveau architecture that feels more like a sculpture than a building. The space is pregnant with the history of Limburg—a region that, between 1901 when Andre Dumont discovered coal and 1986 when the last mine closed, was synonymous with the coal industry in Belgium. The area has since reinvented itself, attracting other industries, specifically auto manufacturing and the cultural and tourism sectors. But Genk cannot escape the shadow of its past, and luckily Manifesta, the roving European biennial that used the Waterschei as the only site for its ninth installment, didn’t want to ignore it either. Seamlessly integrated into the theme “The Deep of the Modern,” multiple issues associated with the impact of coal in local and global contexts were dealt with both directly and indirectly in three separate exhibition sections. The first part of the show, and the one flocked to by art aficionados, was the contemporary art section featuring 39, mostly lesser-known, international artists—a refreshing alternative to the usual suspects on the international circuit. …see the entire review in the print version of March’s Sculpture magazine.