Throughout 5 months, from 4 April to 4 September, the Closer project can be seen in Knokke. The artwork is the creation of Wim Tellier, an artist known for enormous visual statements. This particular exhibit portrays a man wearing a fireproof suit and is made of a printed canvas measuring 105 x 68 metres and weighing 3 tonnes.
The suited man represents us all, enclothed in a technology designed to protect us from heat. We feel invincible, smart enough to match the power of nature. Or are we?Wim Tellier
“You see one individual, a man in a fire suit, striking a very confident pose. He seems invincible, as if nothing can happen to him. But that is only an illusion, because the man in the protective suit eventually takes on a completely different form. The suit is perforated and sunflowers grow through it, creating a stark contrast with that initially confident pose. The organic seeds overpower him and eventually overwhelm him.”, Tellier explained.
He said he chose sunflowers as a symbol of modesty and homage to the sun. Through this transformation he wants to remind the world that nothing is invincible, no matter what it looks like. The project also refers to the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change: “There is always a message. If you spend two or three years on an installation, it’s good to be at one with the message.”, he says. After the exhibit concludes, the pieces will be recycled and turned into beach benches.
Ironically, only by getting ‘Closer’ can we make our planet safer for the future.Wim Tellier
The same installation was also presented on the Roi Baudouin stadium in Brussels in 2021. At the time, in a world still closed down because of the pandemic, Tellier explained that “[people need] to overcome our will to separate ourselves from the world around us and instead treat it with respect and kindness. Ironically, only by getting ‘Closer’ can we make our planet safer for the future”.
In Knokke, the exhibit is located in a meadow close to the AZ Zeno hospital. For a better view, there is a watchtower nearby, however the city stressed each person is responsible for their safety should they choose to climb the tower and the authorities accept no liability in case of accidents.