In Belval, much of the earth is composed from slag, a byproduct of the steelmaking process. Until recently slag has had little value, but now it is getting used extensively within the construction industry to build roads and to mix with cement. This newly constituted terroir in south Luxembourg is being mined again and slag, the byproduct, has become a product in its own right.
For The Promised Land, Giuseppe Licari documents this Anthropocene topography, as an eighteenth century explorer in search of the sublime. The photographs he produces are highly ambiguous and their toxic beauty captivating. The landscapes they depict seem untouched by humans, reminiscent of a prehistoric age, when they are in fact entirely created through human intervention. They are primal, almost biblical in scale; thrusting mountains erupt from milky lakes, distant trees appear shrouded in mist, rivers of molten lava and heavy ominous clouds frame cracked and broken plains.
From this sterile landscape Licari has collected slag stones forming the Migrants installation. Each of these stones has its own unique character. Its weight, form and colour depend on the composition of the minerals that it contains and the manner in which it has cooled down.
An artist’s book Schlak featuring the photographs of The Promised Land has been published by Fonds Belval in June 2016.
Licari studied Painting at the Academy of fine Arts in Bologna and Monumental Art at AKI Enschede, in the Netherlands. His work focuses on the cross-border of the natural world and the built environment, exploring the territories emerging from their encounters. His landscapes constitute places of memories, in which the emotions of single individuals become inevitably part of a collective experience. Licari has been the recipient of significant grants including: the Starter Stipendium and the Work Budget by Mondriaan Fonds, Amsterdam, the O&O fellowship by CBK Rotterdam and residency grants at Iaspis Stockholm and at Badgast Den Haag. He has been a collaborator in several on site research projects with the Historisch Museum Rotterdam, the TU Delft and the Politecnico of Milan. His works have been exhibited internationally, including New Holland St. Petersburg, UAB Visual Arts Gallery at Birmingham USA, Tent Rotterdam and Action Field Kodra Thessaloniki.
Giuseppe Licari was born in Sicily and is currently based in Rotterdam.