From Sand, Artworks in Glass. 3/12 – Jan Fabre

12.12.2019 – 13.01.2020

curated by BUILDING
in collaboration with Jean Blanchaert


Jan Fabre
Shitting Doves of Peace and Flying Rats, 2008
Bic ink on Murano glass, marble and iron
9 elements, each 20 x 19 x 20 cm


Animal-human, vegetable-human, material-human and spiritual-human symbolically participate in the creation of the images and arcane shapes of Fabre’s “to be or not to be” obsession, like in Shitting Doves of Peace and Flying Rats (2008), made with blue Bic ink manually applied to glass. Ever since the Assyrians, for whom Semiramis flew to heaven in the form of a dove, alive or dead doves have been animals of peace, spirituality, and elevation of the purity of good and rectitude. Venus’s companion is a dove; a dove is the oracular animal that leads to the golden bough giving access to the Underworld, the only animal allowed to approach the temple of Delphi, Animal-Being and Trinitarian spirit-Being. On the contrary, the flying rats, which do not belong to the rodent family, are grey, dreary and quarrelsome pigeons – the doves’ dark side, popularly called “sky rats” in Venice and Berlin, “flying rats” in Paris and Madrid, or “rats with wings” and “winged rats of death” in London. Doves of peace and pigeons of war. The Being of life and not Being of death, Being of flesh and not Being of bones. Our solid structure – bones – is associated with death, given that the rest of our animal bodies consists of soft tissues; it is bones that resist in time and, preserved over millennia, allow us to know who we are, where we come from and where we are going in the cycle of birth, life and death”.


BUILDINGBOX is dedicating the 2019-2020 season to contemporary glass art with the project From Sand, Artworks in Glass, an exhibition spread over 12 monthly appointments, curated by BUILDING in collaboration with Jean Blanchaert. The third artwork is Shitting Doves of Peace and Flying Rats by Jan Fabre.

The title, From Sand, Artworks in Glass, evokes the fascinating alchemy involved in creating this material from sand, using air and fire, presenting the work of contemporary artists who have chosen to explore the potential offered by this medium. It is the experimental approach that makes these works so exemplary and precious: they are conceived by artists who use various different techniques, some of which are not usually associated with the specific characteristics of glass. This project resonates with BUILDING’s mission of exploring the lesser known aspects and experimental side of the art world, along with more celebrated figures and practices.

Here the focus is on the creative relationship forged between the artist’s vision and the craft of master glassmakers. Easily shaped by skilled hands, glass assumes “fragile” forms that both connect with the artistic traditions of the past and at the same time open up to a formal perspective grounded in contemporary aesthetics. The theme of the project lies in the works themselves, rooted in an age-old history and ancient craft, bearers of a precise chemical combination of different elements developed 4000 years ago by the Phoenicians, and which still holds infinite potential.

For 12 months a sequence of works by various artists will be hosted in the independent showcase, visible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, marking the passing of time and eliciting broader reflections on how time tends to dominate space.