The Musée d'Art Contemporain (MAC) in Belgium, where Grand-Hornu Images is located, is housed in a former colliery (the site of a coal mine). It seems darkly humorous that Dutch designer Wieki Somers' latest sculptures would be on display at the gallery, since they're made out of human ashes.
Somers' work, titled Consumer or Conserve, is part of the gallery's exhibit, In Progress, which explores the notions of progress, technology, mobility, consumption, life and death, innovation, and the environment. She used 3D printing technology to turn human ashes into sculptures of everyday objects -- including a scale, a toaster, a chair, and a vacuum. Ashen animals also dot the morbid landscape of her creations -- like birds (some dead) and beetles, which reinforces the notion that life is fleeting.
The sculptures are somewhat modeled after the vanitas paintings common in medieval funerary art and sixteenth/seventeenth Northern European still lifes. They are meant as a reminder of -- you guessed it -- death, and use things like skulls, rotten fruit, watches or hourglasses, and other objects relating to the ephemeral.
By using human ashes, Somers' hopes to talk about society's compulsion to "consume" without any real regard for what our belongings actually mean, and how they are useful. Would an object made from human ashes make you reconsider the importance of that object? Does it become more precious to us? Check out the images of Somers' work in the gallery below.