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Heaven of Delight (as opposed to that other Heaven?)
November 22, 2009 2:07 AM   Subscribe

Jan Fabre put 1.6 million irridescent beetles on the ceiling [via]
posted by mhjb (37 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sorry about the one-link wonder but the rest of his work seems to wander endlessly between gross, lame, and pretentious.
posted by mhjb at 2:08 AM on November 22, 2009


Initially they were silver.
posted by Tube at 2:26 AM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure that they were
posted by mhjb at 2:36 AM on November 22, 2009


I'm pretty sure that Leopold II funded the Congo Room with his own private enterprise.
posted by jouke at 3:40 AM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


If no one else is going to say it, I will: THAT LOOKS EFFIN' AWESOME.
posted by WidgetAlley at 4:26 AM on November 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


awesome and creepy-crawly at the same time.
posted by dabitch at 4:33 AM on November 22, 2009


How would you clean/dust any of it? It looks really cool. An absolute one of a kind...
posted by zerobyproxy at 4:37 AM on November 22, 2009


I don't think that the beetles were delighted.

It would have been much neater if the beetles were alive and happy, just lurking up there on the ceiling.
posted by scruss at 4:45 AM on November 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


The actress Ellen Terry wore a gown made from beetle wings, when she played Lady Macbeth, in 1888.
posted by steef at 4:56 AM on November 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Someone killed and disassembled a million and a half beetles just so they could have a pretty ceiling? That rates pretty high on my "well, that's all kinds of fucked up" scale.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 5:40 AM on November 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


More evidence that there is no document of culture that is not at the same time a document of barbarism.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:40 AM on November 22, 2009


Someone killed and disassembled a million and a half beetles just so they could have a pretty ceiling?

A TOTALLY AMAZING ceiling, you mean.

Equal amounts of "WTF?!" and AWESOME from my perspective.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:24 AM on November 22, 2009


That's just creepy, IMHO. Kind of pretty, but still mostly creepy and weird. What a strange world...
posted by gemmy at 6:26 AM on November 22, 2009


It's like Silence of the Lambs, but if Buffalo Bill was flush with cash.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:27 AM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


IS THIS HISTORICALLY ACCURATE?


If not, I revoke the right of the Belgium monarchy to claim a historic tax exemption.


And I, too, was looking forward to a live mass of beetles.
posted by Atreides at 6:41 AM on November 22, 2009


I have wanted to see this ceiling since I first learned about it, those are great photos, mhjb. More insect art and mention of Fabre in a prior jonson post. I had included a few links on Fabre's ceiling, tho most are broken now. As for cruelty to insects, Fabre claimed he collected the beetle carapaces for three years from entomology departments of universities and restaurants, where he says they are cooked an eaten for protein the way we eat mussels.

Also see, Jan Fabre's works at the Venice Art Biennale 09, including a work that references this ceiling.

jouke and anotherpanacea, thanks for those links - that is so highly disturbing. While I knew that the Belgian colonialism had exploited the Congo, I had no idea of the level of systemic violence that was involved. It appears that Fabre's work "The Belly" in the the Venice Bienalle link is a reference to this.
posted by madamjujujive at 6:44 AM on November 22, 2009


Art and Beetles have had a long partnership together.

Carmine
A crimson red lake pigment that came into use in the decades following Columbus. A variety of Kermes (see below) it was made from Cochineal, an insect of Central America. It was in common use until recently and the name has been applied to many other pigments since the decline in use of the genuine pigment.

I would love to see this in person. I imagine that photography only hints at its impact.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:01 AM on November 22, 2009


It has been hailed in Belgian art circles as one of the most important works of the new century.

This accolade is a little underwhelming, methinks.
posted by jimmythefish at 7:19 AM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow, that is amazing. I'd love to go see it some time.
posted by flippant at 8:04 AM on November 22, 2009


Iridescence (One 'r') in Jeweled Beetles
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:40 AM on November 22, 2009


Magnificent.
Thanks, mhjb.
posted by bru at 9:11 AM on November 22, 2009


That's really neat.

It's good to be Queen.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:12 AM on November 22, 2009


Maybe the photos don't do it justice, but it looked to me like a weirdly splotchy textured paint job gone wrong (sort of like that awful "cottage cheese" textured paint you see in some Victorian flats here in SF). Basically, there was no sense of iridescence, just green and black lumps.

An iridescent thing - beetle, seashell, feather, etc - up close is a delight. You can see the play of color when you turn it or move your head. From a distance, the shifting colors are not so obvious and the delight is lost.

Beetles, living as well as dead, have been used as ornaments around the world for centuries. According to that article, beautiful beetles were kept as pets and worn as jewelry in India, Sri Lanka and Mexico. I read somewhere that some Victorians (presumably, those who would be goths today) also wore live beetles as jewelry, but can't find a citation right now.

Maybe the ceiling is beautiful in person and the play of color is evident, but in the photos it just looks lumpy and gross to me. Not to mention 1.6 million dead beetles' worth of icky.

Iridescent beetles are absolutely enchanting in real life. I once found a small brilliant golden green beetle in a shopping mall parking lot, of all places. It was so beautiful I wanted to take it home and keep it as a pet, just to look at it, but I had no idea what to feed it so I reluctantly put it on a bush and wished it well. I've never seen another beetle like it around here, and I wonder what it was doing at the mall?
posted by Quietgal at 11:01 AM on November 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


I wonder what it was doing at the mall?

Going to Fashion Bug, obviously
posted by chambers at 11:09 AM on November 22, 2009


....one of Fabre's greatest inspirations - the 15th century gothic fantasy artist Hieronymous Bosch who produced The Garden of Earthly Delights - is a mosaic made up entirely of beetles....

I think you owe us another post, mhjb.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:12 PM on November 22, 2009


I thought I would hate it. Turns out it's pretty neat.
posted by roger ackroyd at 12:53 PM on November 22, 2009


As I try to sleep, I can hear the ceiling moving. Why does no one believe me?
posted by Splunge at 1:03 PM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Have these people never heard of sequins?
posted by Cranberry at 1:22 PM on November 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sadly, Hieronymous Bosch was not a mosaic made up entirely of beetles. He was this one Dutch dude.

What the article says is that "Heaven of Delight (an homage to one of Fabre's greatest inspirations (the 15th century gothic fantasy artist Hieronymous Bosch who produced The Garden of Earthly Delights)) is a mosaic made up entirely of beetles."
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:42 PM on November 22, 2009


That looks incredible. I'd love to see it in person.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 2:28 PM on November 22, 2009


King Leopold's special room redecorated with a million dead beatles?

That's OK, but what I would really like to see now is the entire Berghof reconstructed out of dolphin and chimpanzee bones.

If you want to give me a morally dubious aesthetic thrill, you're just going to have to try a little harder.
posted by dgaicun at 7:35 PM on November 22, 2009


OK, I read the two articles and the comments here, and I guess I missed it. What's the connection between iridescent green beetles and the Congo?
posted by intermod at 8:51 PM on November 22, 2009


OK, I read the two articles and the comments here, and I guess I missed it. What's the connection between iridescent green beetles and the Congo?

The first sentence of the main link:

The Hall of Mirrors, or the Congo Room as it was also known, in the Palace of Brussels was commissioned by King Leopold II.
posted by juv3nal at 2:47 AM on November 23, 2009


Er, yes, thank you. But what's the connection to iridescent green beetles? Why did the artist select that material? Was that one of the export products?
posted by intermod at 8:08 AM on November 23, 2009


Sorry. My bad. Here's another article that indicates that connection is simply that the beetles can be found there.
posted by juv3nal at 9:50 AM on November 23, 2009


That's too bad. A corrupt, sadistic empire propped up by the export of iridescent ceiling beetles would make an awesome story.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:23 AM on November 24, 2009



That's too bad. A corrupt, sadistic empire propped up by the export of iridescent ceiling beetles would make an awesome story.


In my googling to come up with that alternate version of the article, I found some stuff that indicated that the beetles were bad for the Cogolese crops, so I was hoping that maybe the beetles were originally a Belgian import which would have made a nice metaphor, but no dice.
posted by juv3nal at 12:25 PM on November 24, 2009


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