Gold-plated floors need to be swept too: Jan Fabre’s ‘Pietas’ in an Antwerp train shed

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How do you clean a 24-carat gold-plated floor? A floor you’re not allowed to walk upon, unless you put on felt slippers? Well: just like those floors you and I have at home. With a swiffer sweeper. Seeing that rather silly, menial chore performed put a smile on my face, at Park Spoor Noord (Antwerp, through September 23). It nicely cut through the solemn atmosphere Belgian visual artist Jan Fabre tries to create with his installation Pietas: five enormous white sculptures, carved from Carrara marble. Yes: the same marble Michelangelo used for his Pietà, on which Fabre based one of his five sculptures.
Pietas was previously shown at the Venice Biennale 2011 and has, since, reportedly been bought by Fabre’s gallerist Guy Pieters for € 900.000. Pietas is the first exhibition at this renovated train shed, in a hip Antwerp area. Do look at Fabre’s bare feet, a reference to the Paul is dead rumors after McCartney appeared barefoot on the cover of Abbey road. The felt slippers are, of course, a reference to Joseph Beuys. And when you’re looking at all those marble brains, do bear in mind that Fabre has already conceived a work of art for which his brain will be used, after his death.

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