Looking Into Those Liquid Dark Eyes
intervention at Anti Tank Channel, Brasschaat , Belgium
latex paint, dust sheets

This intervention is located underneath the Antwerp A1 highway at a point where it crosses a second world war Antitank Canal. At this location two artificial solutions, with contradicting functions, collide. The highway functions for mobility, the anti tank canal was build for the immobility of tanks. This clash creates an uncanny space, visually and mentally. The artists aim is to bring attention to this specific location which visualizes the fastness and harsh ways of changing landscapes.”

The antitank canal (the line of squares north and east of Antwerpen on the Kempen map) was constructed as a defense (modern moat) for Antwerp. At the east end it started from the Albert canal at Oelegem and ran northwest though Schilde, 's-Gravenwezel, St.-Job-in-'t-Goor, Schoten, Brasschaat, Kapellen, Putte, and Stabroek to Berendrecht at the north end of the port of Antwerp. The overall length is 46 km, bottom width 5 m, with a water depth of 2 meters. The embankments of either side were 14 to 18 m wide. Due to a difference in water level of 15 m over the 45 km, 17 fortified locks (actually fortified culverts) were required. It was finished in the first weeks of 1940. The canal was only the latest in numerous attempts to protect Antwerp from invaders. There had been two different city walls. Then in the years before WW1 a ring of eighteen forts was built around the city. The antitank canal (or ditch) was designed to strengthen six of the forts by connecting them with a modern moat that would be capable of stopping tanks. And as with all other passive defenses, from the Walls of Jericho to Hitler's Atlantic Wall, the antitank canal was a failure against a determined army. The German forces did not attack Antwerp at all in their charge to the sea. In 1948 most of the canal was filled. In the early 1970s an Antwerp bypass canal using the antitank canal route was proposed. Barge convoys of up to 9,000 tons could travel from the Albert to the north end of the Antwerp docks. Highway bridges (including the E34) were (re)built with that in mind. However, NIMBY (Not in My Back Yard) protests led to indefinite postponement. In 1985 renovation of the original canal was started. The fill was removed, and a crushed limestone biker/hiker path laid between St.-Job-in-'t-Goor and Oelegem. This was later marked as part of the Waterwegenroute.