In the Belly of the City

(two-channel sound-video installation, whale fossil, two ticker tapes, loop, sound, 2022)

In the belly of the city a whale cemetery extends itself. What looks like a rock turns out to be a whale fossil, millions of years old. In the urban landscape above it, its current inhabitants work, live, play, talk and rest.
The audiovisual installation In the Belly of the City is a symphony that takes place both above and underneath the Antwerps surface. The changing landscape reveals the evolution of the animal that lived millions of years ago where people now stroll through the park. In that city, passionate paleontologist Mark Bosselaers enthusiastically collects, studies and cares for Antwerp’s whale bones. Organizing the bones in a place and time is his way of getting to grips with the origin of the world as we know it today. Faced with his own mortality, his attention veers to the cyclical movement of the survival of the whale species that knows no end and continuously reproduces itself.

Part of the installation is an almost complete finfish skull. It was found in 2004 at the construction site of the Arthesis building in Antwerp at a depth of six metres. Although the fossil is about four million years old, it strongly resembles the recent minke whale. This fossil species was described in 1885 by Van Beneden as: “Balaenoptera” borealina. It is the first time that an almost complete skull of this species was found. Until now, only skull fragments had been known of this species.


Paleontologist: Mark Bosselaers
Image: Ans Mertens
Sound: Aiko Devriendt
Color Grading: Thijs Paijmans

Production: De Imagerie

Supported by: Stad Antwerpen Het Bos

Technical specs

Original language: Dutch or English
Year: 2022
Running time film: 8’
Sound format: stereo
Colour: Colour


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