15/03/2014 – MECHELEN – We find Sylvie working in an abandoned warehouse. This is where she works; paints, sketches, carpenters and sculpts.

Bisart: What are you currently working on?

Van den broeck: I’m making square people in cement. I call them Lego Sapiens. It looks like they have been growing in a box that constrains their development, but there is no visible shape keeping them imprisoned in this position.

Lego Sapiens is all about invisible boundaries. Internal and external. Some of these boundaries are like invisible walls we build for ourselves, limiting our own freedom.

With my artwork, I always try to challenge the viewer to question a domineering discourse. In this particular work, the focus is on acknowledging that we, in a way, first have to overcome ourselves, question ourselves, step out of our comfort zones and break through our own invisible walls before we can recapture the freedom of thought, speech and action we all deserve.

Bisart: Can you give a concrete example?

Van den broeck: The biggest, and therefore worst invisible wall is our tendency to say : “Oh, there’s nothing we can change about that. That’s just the way things are” when we are confronted with the system failing. In our daily lives, some systems seem to be designed to supress humans, they constrain us so we conform to its needs, mould us into whichever form in which we can best serve its benifits.

Take a look at the educational system, especially higher education in Belgium, or even the whole European Union and you’ll see that its only goal is to feed the economy with high-quality and highly profitable employees. 

Bisart: Why did you decide to use cement?

Van den broeck: The choice of material is very important in my work. I feel that using a cheap building material like cement is adding to the story of the Lego Sapiens. For a previous work about the homeless I’ve used expansion foam, also a cheap building material, you know, the kind you use to isolate windows in a new house, which then gets covered and hidden in the walls by more decorative materials.

Bisart: This all sounds pretty negative.

Van den broeck: Luckily that’s not true! The Lego Sapiens might be square, but just like real people, they hold the potential to develop and free themselves. This potential is represented by the leg breaking through the square, and I’m allready planning to make other kinds of Lego Sapiens in which other parts of their body will brake through. Because the Lego Sapiens are so geometrical, it is possible to actually use them as real building blocks to make walls, towers, totems, patterns and all kinds of compositions. Each composition brings across another feeling, association or meaning.

Bisart: How much will they cost?

Van den broeck: I feel very strongly that art should be accessible to everyone. This is also why I will be giving buyers the possibility to participate in the creative proces. People can co-decide on the amount of blocks and invent new and personal compositions.


Interview Joke Vander Aa, Kunstgalerie Bisart