Ecoumène (Ecumene)

Exhibition Ecouménal, Rossicontemporary, Brussels, 2016.

Ecoumène I, acrylic paint, sandblasted aluminium form, photo and brass on sanded aluminium, 60 × 32 cm.
Ecoumène II, acrylic paint and steel cut-outs on sanded aluminium, 60 × 32 cm.
Ecoumène III, Ecoumène IV, acrylic paint on sanded aluminium, 60 × 32 cm.

The ancients called the inhabited earth “Ecumene” (Oikoumenos), as opposed to uninhabited territories. This was a way of locating and depicting the known and unknown worlds on the first maps of the terrestrial sphere. Over the centuries, the relationship between these two worlds has been constantly readjusted. The “terra incognita” receded, and inhabited lands were drawn on the basis of oceans and rivers. Entire continents were discovered, explored and exploited. The concept of the ecumene was gradually forgotten. French geographers, Vidal de la Blache in the 19th century and Augustin Berque in the 20th, reintroduced the term “Écoumène“, making the determination of the surface inhabited by man the central question of human geography. Augustin Berque asserts that: “To be is necessarily to be somewhere”; and he adds: “To say that the question of being is philosophical, while that of place is geographical, is to cut reality off by an abyss that makes it impossible to grasp it for ever”.

It was a photograph of a hut on the edge of the forest that gave birth to the concept of Ecumene. It is at the origin of the paintings and sculptures I present here. To think of the Ecumene in painting is to think of the distinction, the border, the limit. Materials, colours and surfaces become the locus of differentiation. From this point onwards, I create one way or another of occupying space. By extension, this concept can also mean the “inhabited” and “uninhabited” territories of the unconscious, of sleep, of poetry; it is broad and opens up new perspectives.

© Godelieve Vandamme - Écoumène
© Godelieve Vandamme - Écoumène
© Godelieve Vandamme - Écoumène
© Godelieve Vandamme - Écoumène
© Godelieve Vandamme - Écoumène

Ecoumène I

1/4
© Godelieve Vandamme - Écoumène

Ecoumène II

2/4
© Godelieve Vandamme - Écoumène

Ecoumène III

3/4
© Godelieve Vandamme - Écoumène

Ecoumène IV

4/4