600,000 Clay Sculptures Commemorate World War I

Journalists create eggs for Koen Vanmechelen's World War I tribute, Coming World Remember Me. Photo: Sivan Askayo, via Newsweek.

To commemorate the 600,000 lives lost in Belgium during World War I, Belgian conceptual artist Koen Vanmechelen is creating an equal number of clay egg sculptures for his project Coming World Remember Me, reports Artfix Daily.

Each will come with its own military-style dog tag bearing two names: that of a solider or civilian killed in Belgium taken from the records of the In Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres, Belgium, and of the artist who made the individual egg. Visitors are invited to contribute to the piece by making eggs at one of three workshops in Belgium.

The project was co-organized by Lotte Moeyaert of Belgian non-profit Kunst with another organization called Combat. “We focus on the universal and human aspect of war,” she told Newsweek. “The project is not really a ‘war project’ but more a ‘peace project.’”

Vanmechelen has designed the massive sculptural installation to demonstrate the futility of war. “The generations who live at the moment, they don’t know what war is in Belgium or in Europe,” he said to Newsweek. “Because the war is always somewhere else. . . . I think it’s important to do this remembering—it’s part of our history, part of our DNA. It makes us clearer on how avoid a war like this in the future. I think it’s part of education.”

The installation is one of many large-scale art commissions planned throughout the continent (see “Thousands of Ceramic Poppies Commemorate WWI in London“) over the next four years to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the war, which cost European countries, their colonies, and allied nations—including the US—an estimated 16 million lives.

As of last month, 26,000 eggs had already been produced at just one of the three workshops. The completed work will be unveiled in 2018, the centenary of the war’s end, on a Ypres field that saw combat during the war.

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.