De Sokkel is a yearly commission of an art project for an empty 19th Century plinth in the Central Park of Antwerp. The Indian Community runs the diamonds’ trade in the same area - the largest worldwide market of this stone. I involved them in choosing the upcoming statue for the public pedestal. They decided for Bharat Mata, the figure adopted to carry the flag of the new-born state of India in 1947.
A hybrid monument was born, through a movement: a foreign community took over the plinth originally belonging to the local one. This activated a situation of misunderstanding and multiple perceptions: no unified interpretation was attributed to the public sculpture anymore. The statue became a vehicle of interaction of collective sentiments and agendas. The project unravels histories of colonialism, contested spaces, sites, legalities and bureaucracies involved in definitions of identity and self-identification.
The film The making of De Sokkel #5 narrates the adventurous story of the project, surrounded by debates concerning the specific political context, the nature of monuments as collective catalysts, censorship and artistic freedom in the public space. This dynamic was pestering the obsolescent plinth, its silent loneliness, its unavoidable servitude to the grey umbrella of the nation. Aiming at injecting in it a further breath of life and blood circulation.
The project includes also the artist book Private colloquies on a public sculpture, which collects the manifold conversations that took place all along the process.