John Powers | 2018
LANCHALSFor Lanchals, John Powers has drawn inspiration from the rich history and folklore of Bruges. He dug up the legend about Pieter Lanchals, an advisor of Archduke Maximilian of Austria, who was killed during a popular uprising in the 15th century against urban privileges. The Bruges population had tortured and decapitated serval prominent members of Maximilian’s entourage, including Pieter Lanchals. The archduke called for revenge and surrounded himself with an army of soldiers to plunder the city. Bruges ultimately recovered a number of privileges, but – as legend has it – in memory of the event, the city had to allow 52 swans (known as langhalzen or longnecks) on the canals.
White swans are still characteristic feature of the cityscape. For the Bruges Triennial, Powers erected a meter-high sculpture in the form of a swan’s neck on a square on the edge of the water, although it could also make one think of a backbone or a tornado. Every black building stone in the installation is its own module, an equally valuable piece of the whole, in which each one is supported by the other and stretches toward the heavens.