Sam Lewitt at Z33 / Hasselt

Sam Lewitt - Cure (the Work)

4 Oct 2020 to 24 Jan 2021

Z33 House for Contemporary Art, Design & Architecture
Bonnefantenstraat 1
3500 Hasselt (Belgium)

The American artist Sam Lewitt investigates the circulation of matter and capital in the global economy. His exhibition CURE (the Work) at Z33 departs from the recent closure and demolition of Ford Genk, formerly a major employer in the region. As Ford Genk was undergoing demolition, the new wing of Z33 was under construction in the nearby city of Hasselt. Lewitt retools this economic transition in his exhibition. He uses elements of the demolished factory, as well as soil from the Ford site, to set up a production line for compressed earth blocks, a low-cost building material. Inside the galleries, the stages of the production process—compressing, curing, and stacking—are separated by doors and tarps from the former factory. This dispersed presentation raises the question of where we locate the "work," as an activity and as a product. In the galleries of Z33, two earth ramming machines compress soil from the Ford site into interlocking earth blocks. These manual devices were originally designed for self- help housing in so-called developing countries and also embraced by practitioners of small-scale ecological self-sufficiency. They enable the direct use of local soil for shelter and road construction. The earth ramming machines connect Z33 to various other production sites and raise the question of how artistic production is tied to a specific place: the machines are meant to be used with local soil, but can be used anywhere in the world. In this respect, Lewitt’s work differs from site-specific art that is made for one place. The Ford site in Genk—which is being redeveloped as a logistics hub—is already connected to numerous other places of economic activity. Lewitt uses this site as raw material to be transformed throughout the exhibition.