The anonymous busts
The story of a citizen gardener, the discovery of a poet, their commitment to a history, a heritage, unfold over several years in Flémalle. Strange coincidence, their stories met mine. I then tried through this installation - followed by a publication - to set in motion the possibility of a memory, real or imaginary...
The encounter of several unique elements allowed me to establish a link as follows: the audio registration of Mister Delagoen, retired gardener of the City Hall of Flémalle (also President of the historical commission of Flémalle) accompanies a set of six voting booths (found in the attic of the City Hall of Flémalle) each one of them protecting one of the six anonymous iron casts busts (found back by Mister Delagoen in Amsterdam). These busts were the mainstays of the garden of the family home of the poet J.-F. Renkin from Flémalle.
Here is an extract of my encounter with Mister Delagoen:
When the house of J.-F. Renkin has been destructed, we got in touch with the owners, in fact the descendants of Jean-François Renkin, the well known poet, who moreover had been secretary of the Literary Society of Liège, in order to get these busts back. The Renkin family let them, to place them in the municipal park, emphasize them. And that's what we did. We took them. When thus was it? In my opinion, in the eighties, or during the nineties, if my memory is good. The exact year, I don't know any more, but I remember we have redone pillars in small granite, in blue stone.
We emphasized the busts. In fact, I emphasized them with the authorization of the City Council of course, in the Italian style said garden. At the entrance of the park. There is no water area in this garden, but the plan imitates well an Italian-style garden; that's why we call it so. A few years went by. We pass by the busts every day. We eventually don't pay attention any more. One day, one Monday, - I think it was in the nineties - ninety five maybe even in ninety-six - the foreman says to me: “Well, the busts? What happened to them?”. “How that, what happened to them?”. We go to see for ourselves. In fact, the busts had been stolen during the weekend. The six of them. We file a complaint to the police, naturally. And time goes by. I don't know any more how long later, a few months I believe, I receive an anonymous phone call.