Countries all over the world take strict measures to ensure that non-native species of plants and animals don't disrupt their biodiversity, resident health or economy. But Kris Verdonck is bringing that concern to a whole new level by concentrating all of Belgium's most invasive species in one place. Recently on show at Belgium's contemporary art gallery Z11, Verdock's newest exhibition, EXOTE, featured an enclosed planted garden featuring alien flora and fauna that have grown to become a threat to the country. The exhibit explores an ‘end-of-the-world’ landscape, and a metaphor for a world where man has to protect himself against an environment that he created in vain.
Verdonck’s EXOTE transformed stark, white gallery into an enclosed bio-dome featuring a lush, but poisoned ecosystem that speaks of man’s increasing interference in nature and its consequential havoc on their lives. The exhibit is stunning and spectacular, overgrown with non-native species — but the reality is that the exhibit is channeling the canned result of manmade biological imbalance. Essentially, by Verdock’s interpretation, the Apocalypse has already taken place and humanity is coping in confusion.
Visitors were welcome to explore the bio-dome, but are required to suit up from head to toe. Animals on display range in everything, from fish to snakes to birds. The beautiful plants and flowers on show would never lead one to believe they could be the eventual demise of the local ecology, but the underlying message is clear. A stunning, well-executed display, Verdonk’s exhibit bring all the right questions to the forefront and forces its visitors to reflect on how their lifestyles, needs, desires and environmental disruptions have penned a bleak future.
The work of Kris Verdonck is settled between visual arts and theatre, between installation and performance, and between dance and architecture. His work focuses on the confusion of man in an estranged world due to technological development. The ‘current state of the world’ – with its environmental problems, ecological disasters and wars – is the central theme to his works.