Kim Bouvy

EXHIBITION Made in Europe 10 Oct 2015 - 17 January 2016 / Bureau Europa, Maastricht

In the context of RECIPROCITY design liège 2015, Bureau Europa commissioned photographer Kim Bouvy to research the specific reciprocity between the (post-)industrial identities of Liège and Maastricht.

Both cities, as part of the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion, are of considerable importance to the footnotes of European history: in 1817, the Dutch King, William 1st, sold the Prince-Bishop of Liège’s summer castle in Seraing to the sons of William Cockerill, an English industrial entrepreneur and skilled engineer. They then laid the foundations for the first coke blast furnace in Belgium in 1823, thus introducing the mass-production of iron and steel and sparking the Industrial Revolution on the European continent. These events were paralleled in Maastricht by Petrus Regout, who started his family-run steam-powered glassworks in the Boschstraat in 1834 that would extend rapidly into factories for glass, earthenware, nails and rifles. Both families consisted of pioneering industrialists and capitalists, both consolidating cross-border relations for the sake of their businesses.

Bouvy’s photographic ‘travelogue’ takes the river Meuse as her guide, looking at the successive landscapes that have emerged along the riverbanks from the time of the industrial revolution to the present. Starting at the Cockerill Castle in Seraing, where the now redundant furnaces owned by Indian steel giant ArcelorMittal stand silently next to worker communities, a new masterplan is being implemented. Between Herstal and Visé one can find off-highway shopping malls, waste incinerators and logistic hubs in development, followed by the picturesque landscape of the Plateau of Caestert and the ENCI limestone quarry and nature reserve in Maastricht. The route ends at Bureau Europa, a villa in the ‘Timber factory’ that was once part of the Sphinx empire of Regout and Sons and now part of a future ‘Factory of Culture’.

From this sequence of fragmented cross-border industrial and post-industrial landscapes, one can read the struggle of a society in flux, one that needs to constantly adapt to its rapidly changing economic and social conditions. Here the river Meuse acts as a timeless connector of ‘décors’ that are both generic and informed by local histories. The contemporary face of Europe emerges: an area in a state of industrial stagnation and disengagement. The once prominent industrial role of this region has been largely played out through an endless process of mergers. Operating within the international flows of capital, cheap resources, migrant worker populations and global economics, multinational companies no longer limit themselves to the local context of available resources and labour. Under these ‘liquid’ conditions, how can this part of the Meuse-Rhine Euregion – once closely connected by religion, culture and trade – shape, or rather reinvent, its post-industrial identity?

This project is commissioned by Bureau Europa and is part of the extra muros programme of RECIPROCITY design liège, International Triennial of Design & Social Innovation, initiated by The Province of Liege / Culture and OPMA.






In the exhibition, Kim Bouvy shows a selection of her photos and a digital slide projection with images taken between April and September 2015 in the area between Liège and Maastricht, following the river Meuse.
Designer Hannah Hiecke was invited by Bouvy to make a satellite map of the same area that is presented as an inkjet print on a size of 4 by 2 meters. In conjunction, a leporello designed by Hiecke is available at Bureau Europa that presents the satellite map and 10 images and texts by Bouvy that gives insight into the context of the depicted locations. The poster can be downloaded



RECIPROCITY/Design Liège at Bureau Europa, Maastricht Oct 2015



Bureau Europa will contribute to the extra muros program of RECIPROCITY 2015 with a project entitled Made in Europe. Departing from ideas relating to an ‘anonymous history’ and ‘hidden integration’ in Europe, Bureau Europa aims to expose some of the European networks that connect different actors and events.

As a part of Made in Europe, I have been commissioned by Bureau Europa to investigate the specific reciprocity between the industrial history and identity of the cities Liège and Maastricht.
Both form important footnotes in the history of Europe: Liège where more than 200 years ago Cockerill founded the first textile and steel factories, establishing the forefront of the industrial revolution on the mainland of Europe, and Maastricht as the site where the Maastricht Treaty was signed in 1992 that consolidated further European integration.
The contemporary face of Europe emerges in the disconnection between these localities and their once prominent industrialists: companies are no longer connected to their local context of resources and worker populations but now move with the international flows of capital and global economics. Under these conditions, how can these two cities in the Euregio still shape or rather reinvent their social and economic identities?

August/end 2013 - Imagined Stories/Verhalen Verbeeld

“Nature uses human imagination to lift her work of creation to even higher levels.”
(Luigi Pirandello)

Marres Projects, Bureau Europa, and Camille Oostwegel Château Hotels & Restaurants have partnered to form of a cultural research project called Imaged Stories. This project primarily focuses on the history of the WinselerHof estate in Landgraaf—a 16th-century farmhouse that opened in 1985 as a completely restored and furnished hotel and restaurant by Camille Oostwegel. Secondly, the surroundings of the Kerkrade/Landgraaf, with its rich history, will be inventoried. Since Roman times, the region has been a border area and is characterised by different historical developments and their traces, thus influencing the language, cultural practices, and the formation of the landscape. For example, think of the many foreign immigrants who came to work in the area’s mines. The project intends to make visible the effects of these industrial and cultural exchanges and recognise the region’s distinct history.

Imaged Stories was launched in August 2013. Four artists and designers were invited to stay for a week on the WinselerHof estate and to work on a visual intervention in its grounds. Participants: Astrid Mingels (artist), Kim Bouvy (artist, photographer, educator), Chris Kabel (designer) and Hans Engelbrecht (ecological gardener and director of de Groene Stap).

Kim Bouvy’s photo series examines our presumptions in relation to the appearance of the surrounding landscape. In her photographic series of the lush and idyllic nature, an undercurrent of tension exists. In many places, the green ground cover conceals traces of the mining history that characterises the landscape of Central Limburg. As part of her research, she consulted the Limburg Regional Historical Centre archives and old DSM calendars to gain an insight into what once was. This translated into a visual analysis where she zoomed out from the WinselerHof estate to its immediate vicinity. She animates her series by interweaving images of ‘real’ nature with pictures of nearby large-scale scenic recreational areas, such as botanical gardens, Snow World, Gaia Zoo, and the Mondo Verde World Gardens. Parks seemingly imbued with a particular history, but in terms of meaning they appear to completely ignore such histories. The remains of what was once a landscape of production are transformed into carriers of a new identity, becoming what could be described as style rooms of the new nature. As such, she puts our perceptions and symbolism of nature under the microscope and shows, in a poetic way, the relations and contradictions between constructed, cultivated vegetation and real nature.








March 2013 - Energy Landscapes

For the publication SOURCE #07: What if we were all producers (of energy)?’ published by the Master departments of the Design Academy Eindhoven (ISBN 978-94-91400-04-9), I photographed the EON energy plant located on the Maasvlakte in Rotterdam. The publication is a result of a joint project with E.ON about the future of energy for which the first year master students developed a series of scenarios.







Friday 2 November 2012 20h: Symposium Port Prospects

Friday 2 November 2012, 20.00h
Het Wilde Weten, Robert Fruinstraat 35, Rotterdam
doors open 19.30h (English spoken)
Entrance free, reservations rsvp

This summer the exhibition ‘Learning from… Rotterdam’ was on view at the Kunsthalle Wilhelmshaven (DE): a photographic dialogue between the harbor cities of Rotterdam and Wilhelmshaven. The exhibition featured commissioned works by a.o. Elian Somers (NL), Kim Bouvy (NL) and Oliver Godow (DE).

Since 2007, the Port of Rotterdam Authority and the Nederlands Fotomuseum have been commissioning photographers to reflect on the Maasvlakte 2, the extension of the Rotterdam harbor. The latest work is ‘Lunar Landscapes’ by Marie-José Jongerius, on view at the NFm from November 3.

The symposium reflects on these dialectic representations and questions their influence on the image and conception of the city. With Kim Bouvy, Elian Somers, Oliver Godow, Marie-José Jongerius (artists), Viola Weigel (director/curator Kunsthalle Wilhelmshaven) Frits Gierstberg (Head of Exhibitions Nederlands Fotomuseum), Caroline von Courten (writer, curator). Moderator is Saskia van Stein (curator NAiM/Bureau Europa)

A small exhibition of the commissioned works by Elian Somers, Kim Bouvy and Oliver Godow will be on display in the project space of Het Wilde Weten during the symposium. If you can’t make it to the symposium but would like to see the works Saturday 3 or Sunday 3 November, please email to

The symposium is organized by Het Wilde Weten and the Goethe Institut Rotterdam.

Kim Bouvy ‘Lena’ (Wilhelmshaven), 2012

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