In 2006 Karl Van Welden (°1980, Belgium) initiated United Planets, a cycle of visual and performative work based on terrestrial or human presence in the universe. How does humankind relate to the immensity of the universe? Using the planets in our solar system as anchor points, he searches for artistic answers to this fundamental question.
As an atmospheric backdrop, each planet represents another series of projects. The PLUTO series plays out in a closed wooden box in the public space and is only accessible to one viewer at a time. Inside, a cinematic scene between three people repeats itself every twenty minutes. SATURN is a series of sitespecific performance-installations focusing on themes such as distance, intimacy, infinity, control and power in relation to the contemporary landscape. The panoptical setup of eight observation cabins offers a wide view of the surroundings. SATURN I - landscape explores the shaping powers at work in a natural landscape while SATURN II - cityscape, focuses on an urban landscape, and SATURN III - townscape, highlights a rural environment. The MARS series focuses on human resistance against great physical forces. The series started with IMAGES FOR MARS I, a video work in which two soldiers of the Belgian army slowly lean towards each other, their feet held in a layer of concrete. The source of inspiration for the second chapter is our view on catastrophes. The performance MARS II investigates the impact of a rain of ash on music, and on the pianist performing the music.
The other work is smaller in scale but covers more or less the same thematic approach as the performative work. It comprises drawings, paintings, installations, interventions, video and three-dimensional works,which can act as reflections, preliminary studies, but could just as easily exist autonomously or be combined into one work. Whether sound or image with these works the artist also explore multilayeredness, balancing between autonomous poetics and subtle references to social or political themes. A Fall presents a disaster scenario for a single object. A self-made vinyl record spins on a turntable in a closed display. A rain of ash slowly descends, turning the whole scene dark grey, until the music and movement eventually come to a halt. What remains is a fragile, purposeless object in a monochrome landscape. The installation Column continues this exploration of volcanoes and the consequences of eruption. A wooden sculpture suspended in the air trembles due to various low-frequency sound waves, producing a column of ash. Every edition of the installation uses self-composed sounds, honouring a specific eruption. In the intervention and video work Homo Bulla a bubble appears at irregular intervals, floating through public space until it bursts and goes up in smoke. A small, fragile and elusive event which elicits a poetic sight amid daily life.