He was nearly injured by an erupting volcano, dragged Joaquin Phoenix from a burning car wreck, was shot in the abdomen by a crazed fan and suffered several bouts of malaria. Werner Herzog knows the world can be a dangerous place, especially for a filmmaker who seeks to transform reality so viewers can witness ‘the ecstatic truth’, as he calls it. But Herzog doesn’t tread gently. He bulldozers on.
AVL’s latest creation is fittingly named after the German director of such modern classics as Fitzcarraldo and Grizzly Man. This vehicle can handle any terrain and can operate under the most strenuous circumstances. It’s a steel-plated monster. Its parapet is outfitted with artillery embrasures and topped with a rotating gun turret.
Werner resembles the narco tanks used by Mexican drug cartels or the vehicles terrorist organizations such as ISIS use; made from modified trucks or SUVs equipped with armour and guns, the epitome of DIY tactical security.
Werner is not intended for urban warfare though. It’s designed to bring cinema to the cultural outback. AVL taps into cinema’s history as a propaganda tool, bringing the contemporary media war to the streets and underlining cinema’s fighting spirit. Films can be displayed on screens both inside and outside the vehicle. The mobile cinema can easily be extended with a tent-like structure to create an outdoor screening venue, not unlike a paramilitary encampment.
But Werner can also be used by guerrilla filmmakers who want to get back to basics. The vehicle is outfitted with a kitchen, bathroom, fireplace and other amenities necessary for self-sufficiency. Hitched to the back is a pyrolyser that transforms plastics into diesel to fuel the combustion engine powering the machine. As long as there’s waste, there will be the power to keep on making films.
Werner (2021) was part of the following exhibition(s):
50th Edition, IFFR, Rotterdam (NL)
For enquiries: please contact Atelier Van Lieshout via firstname.lastname@example.org
Location: Westerlo, Belgium
A video of Kill Room (2020) via this link
The Essential Dwelling
The Essential Dwelling is an imaginary tribal dwelling which takes humankind back to its origins, recalling a primitive state of being. Its appearance was dictated from the inside out, its interior spaces look like they were hewn out of stone, sculpted around the basic amenities needed for living – an ultimate example of “Form follows Function”.
Like the tribal objects, the Essential Dwelling makes a link with the modernist movement. Its organic shapes and primitive production methods, however, make it the complete opposite of Modernism. The sculpture is at the same time contemporary and idealistic, as well as primeval and archaic.
The Essential Dwelling (2015) was part of the following exhibition(s):
‘Primitive Modern’, Almine Rech Gallery, Brussels (BE), 2015
Location: Mallorca (ES)
Y Caban is a modern-day interpretation of the quarrymen’s Caban. It’s a hut that has different uses: to perform, to argue, to discuss and to dream.
Location: the city of Bagor Wales.
700 cm x 375 cm x 275 cm
For the near future, Atelier Van Lieshout foresees the emergence of a new tribal world, a primitive society where production takes centre stage. This world will see a return to farming and industry – which currently both have been banished from our society – and a re-establishment of our relationship with materials – which now has been lost. In this new world, ethics will be of little importance. Instead, rituals will be re-valued, and will offer the tribes of the future guidance. Atelier Van Lieshout is taking an advance on this future, and is creating all necessary equipment for the imaginary tribes, ranging from items of worship and sacrifice to objects for daily use, dwellings and machines. All these artworks together make the huge Gesamtkunstwerk that is New Tribal Labyrinth
Location: Noordwijk, The Netherlands
Fiberglass, steel, wood
940 cm x 390 cm x 880 cm
Domestikator is a large scale artwork that serves as a totem, a temple and a beacon. It symbolizes the power of humanity over the world and pays tribute to the ingenuity, the sophistication and the capacities of humanity, to the power of organisation, and to the use of this power to dominate the natural environment. In order to support 7 billion people, agriculture has become an industry, with factory farming and genetic manipulation a necessity. This provides us with an ethical dilemma, as this kind of farming seems to border on abuse. At the same time, the literal abuse of animals, bestiality, is one of the last remaining taboos. Why is it that treating an animal like a fellow human is an unspeakable act, whilst treating an animal like a resource for industrial production is the norm?
Domestikator is part of the larger installation The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. The Good the Bad and the Ugly is a temporary settlement in Bochum, Germany that was designed for the Ruhrtriennale, a festival for theatre, music, dance and arts.
The Original Dwelling
Atelier Van Lieshout’s sculpture the Original Dwelling is simultaneously a luxurious hang-out and imaginary tribal dwelling; the work takes humankind back to its origins, recalling a primitive state of being.
The Original Dwelling is part of the ongoing series New Tribal Labyrinth which presents a vision of a future, yet primitive, world inhabited by imaginary tribes where there will be different ethics. This world will see a return to farming and industry, to rituals and rites. Atelier Van Lieshout’s cave-like structure fits into a long tradition of troglodyte cave dwellings, which have housed humanity for centuries. This sculpture is at the same time contemporary, idealistic, as well as primeval, making it ‘The Original Dwelling’ in every sense of the word.
The Original Dwelling’s appearance is dictated from the inside out. The interior spaces look like they were hewn out of stone, sculpted around one’s personal wishes and fantasies – an extreme example of ‘Form follows Function’. The Original Dwelling makes a link with the Modernist Movement, but its organic shapes and primitive production methods challenge Modernism.
For the near future, Atelier Van Lieshout foresees the emergence of a new tribal world, a primitive society where production takes centre stage. This world will see a return to farming and industry – which currently both have been banished from our society – and a re-establishment of our relationship with materials – which now has been lost. In this new world, ethics will be of little importance. Instead, rituals will be re-valued, and will offer the tribes of the future guidance.
Atelier Van Lieshout is taking an advance on this future, and is creating all necessary equipment for the imaginary tribes, ranging from items of worship and sacrifice to objects for daily use, dwellings and machines. All these artworks together make the huge Gesamtkunstwerk that is New Tribal Labyrinth.
Soap Factory (2013) was part of the following exhibition(s):
‘Ferrotopia’, NDSM, Amsterdam (NL), 2018
Farming is one of a pillars of the New Tribal Labyrinth. Atelier van Lieshout will create farms for the future, but also from the pre-history, the year zero, the Middle Ages, the Golden Age, and post-war modernist utopia. The final goal is to create a larger than life farm which consist of all the individual farms, connected by tunnels, corridors, doors and hatches. By entering this farm, visitors will engage in labyrinth-like time-travel through the ages, past history, hope, family, utopia, self sufficiency, design and deviancy.
Hagioscoop is the first of this series, a large cross-shaped diorama set in the imaginary date of “year zero”. It consists of four parts: an large Adobe style kitchen, cave-like sleeping quarters, a deconstructivist carpenters workshop and a rough stable. The farm can be entered on the inside, but also viewed from the outside through small openings – comparable to the small windows which can be found in some churches, which enabled outcasts to witness the celebration of mass from outside – the so-called Hagioscoop.
Watch a video of Hagioscoop (2012) via this link
Saw Mill/Cheese Maker
Central part of the Saw Mill/Cheese Maker is the hand-powered Saw Mill. The Cheese Maker, an extremely crude, organic, rustic, indestructible barrel made from a tree trunk and used for curdling, is an extension to the Saw Mill. Both machines are connected to a central axle, driven by a tread wheel which is to be operated by humans. The Cheese Maker is also connected to the Milking Machine, which provides the milk for the cheese, directly from the cow, creating a closed circuit. The cheese production process is rudimentary, unhygienic, smutty even, making the Cheese Maker both an addition to and a denial of the modernist ideology of the Saw Mill, which represents the utopia of building a new world, of cooperation, of efficient, clean production. Generally, the process of making cheese is also a very hygienic one, but in this case bacteria get a free rein and everything will be sticky and smelly.
690 cm x 300 cm x 270 cm
Insect Farm (2012) is a sleek modernist sculpture and a component of a high tech model of a futuristic farm reconnecting with its primitive nature. It is designed to breed insects for consumption, as a high protein and low carbon footprint food alternative, one that is already consumed by the majority of the non-western world. The project is both utopian and pragmatic, seeking a solution for feeding the increasing world population. It is part of the artist’s New Tribal Labyrinth series, connecting the past, present and future, and man and machine with basic materials of life.
Insect Farm (2012) was part of the following exhibition(s):
‘Future Fictions’, Z33, Hasselt (BE), 2014
For enquiries: please contact Atelier Van Lieshout via email@example.com
Huge change is no longer in the past or future but in the present. Our society as we know it and have known to be safe is fast-changing. Value systems of yesterday are no longer relevant. A new civilization is ahead of us. This ideological society offers choice; are we able to find alternate ways of living, another model or are our days counted? The changing climate, growing poverty, wars an more are only expanding. This movable nomadic dwelling unit provides shelter from this disconcerting situation. The armored shelter is made from old steel plates recuperated from demolished boats together with other leftover material from our current society. The material due to its previous life is crooked, damaged and irregular. There is no straight edge to be constructed from these disastrous supplies. The Cabin looks like an improvised defense / attack apparatus made by a local blacksmith in order to have a better chance of survival in times of revolution and civil war. Inside you find an improvised toilet, woodstove, and benches. It is virtually indestructible.
Dynamo is a self-supporting unit that functions as a mobile hotel room. The interior is not much larger than a double bed and is equipped with the basics: a mattress, sheets, blankets, a nightlight and an electricity outlet.
For the new School of Architecture in Nantes Atelier Van Lieshout has made l’Absence. As a sculpture, l’Absence fits into the architectural constraints of the site. The result is a moving and living mass, with multiple protuberances, incarnation of an instinctive gesture, without any delimitation or any function. A living space where we wish discussions will happen. L’Absence is in turn a bar, a sculpture, a comment on today’s architecture that will, without a doubt, fuel students’ imagination.
For the Zuiderzeemuseum in Enkhuizen Atelier Van Lieshout made Huize Organus. This multi-functional unit is placed on a small dyke in the museumpark. The unit consists of several elements of which the large part houses the complete digestive system from tongue to rectum. The largest part of this ‘microworld’ is blown up to massive proportion so that people can enter. Grown out of this sculpture is the clip-on compost toilet. On the other side the female reproductive organs are attached. In this Wombhouse you will find a small bedroom, where one can sleep in the most save place one can imagine on earth, the womb.
Nature is all about the ‘survival of the fittest’, as Charles Darwin concluded in the 19th century. A century later fascist regimes applied his theory of evolution to society and invented social Darwinism. Only the most beautiful and smartest people would be allowed to breed in order to create a race of supermen — a perverse exaggeration of nature. AVL’s Darwin is a superior sperm cell squashing the bodies of the losers. It’s also a cocoon for living and reproducing in.
Location: Verbeke Foundation, Belgium.
A healthy mind in a healthy body. The neck of this giant skull houses a bath and its cranium a sauna. The eyes emit steam when it is in use. Wellness Skull is a monument to the complexity and beauty of the human body, including the parts that usually remain covered. The sculpture also questions our contemporary obsession with youthfulness, self-experiences and indulgence, as wellness has become a new religion.
Wellness Skull (2007) was part of the following exhibition(s):
‘Let’s Get Physical’, Atelier Van Lieshout, Rotterdam (NL), 2020
A meeting point for elderly people: beautiful, cruel and sensual, with a nice interior space. Both art and architecture, BikiniBar represents a building as a sculpture and a sculpture as a building. There is a place to rest inside, where people can withdraw from the busy beach life or bad weather. BikiniBar is the only female body you can enter without permission.
Coffin for Peter Giele
Location: Cementery Zorgvliet, Amsterdam
BarRectum, ArschBar, AssholeBar, BarAnus. With a play on words, as well as function, the large-scale sculpture takes its shape from the human digestive system: starting with the tongue, continuing to the stomach, moving through the small and the large intestines and ending with the anus. Its rendition is anatomically correct, except for the colon which has been enlarged to house a bar. The anus constitutes the emergency exit.
BarRectum (2005) was part of the following exhibition(s):
RAUM der Lusten, RAUM, Utrecht (NL), 2021
‘Let’s Get Physical’, Atelier Van Lieshout, Rotterdam (NL), 2020
‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’, Ruhrtriennale, Bochum (DE), 2015
‘Vrijstaat’, Kasteel Keukenhof, Lisse (NL), 2014
‘Infernopolis’, Submarinewharf, Rotterdam (NL), 2010
‘Das Haus’, Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen (DE), 2008
Wombhouse is a utility unit that acts as the technical core for a house. The womb is not only every human’s first dwelling, but also the only human body part that can be inhabited by another individual. Prefabricated, the technical core contains all of the essential functions of a building: sanitation, kitchen, heating, ventilation. Normally, this core is an anonymous, square object. By contrast, Wombhouse has an exciting, poetic and enchanting shape. The womb contains a bedroom in the uterus – the safest place in the mind of human beings – along with heating, air-conditioning, electrical systems, a kitchen and a shower. One ovary contains the minibar; the other the toilet. Wombhouse can make any space function as a home; the structure requires only a roof and walls to protect it from the climate. Put the plug in the socket, and everything will work.
For family doctor and art collector, Dr Van Sint Fiet. AVL redesigned, refurbished and rebuilt his practice – the reception, the examination room, the laboratory – while adding a clip-on to the building for personal consultations. AVL took out the walls of his office and replaced them with organically-shaped partitions and furniture. These shapes create a more functional space. The furniture looks as if it has grown right there on the spot. The Practice forms a place where people feel welcome and free to discuss all kind of matters with the doctor. An extra parasite on the outside of the building – a crystal-like room – can be used for more intense and intimate conversations with the patients.
Satellite des Sens
Satellite des Sens was commissioned when the city of Lille carried the annual title of Cultural Capital of Europe in 2004. Eager to include children in the celebrations, the organizers asked AVL to create a mobile unit, which could travel around to different schools. Once parked, the unit welcomed 12 children – aged three to six – along with an adult companion, and invited them to take another kind of trip: an artistic discovery tour of the five senses. The children can hear, see, feel, smell and even taste their way through the spacious green caravan to become conscious about the body’s senses in a fun and informative way. The caravan’s exterior – which looks like a bright green, friendly monster – is an experience in itself, stimulating the 5 senses. Created in close collaboration with a team of specialists – trailer builders, engineers, sculptors, sound artists and pedagogues – AVL’s Satellite des Sens is a surrealistic dream object on wheels. Collection city of Lille
The Disciplinator has a mathematical precision in its design, facilities and functions. Based on multiples of four, the elements are intended to be used 24 hours a day by a slave force of 72 inmates. There are 24 bunk beds that can be occupied three times a day; 24 places to eat with 24 cups and 24 dishes; 36 places to work and 36 files with which the slaves complete the useless task of reducing tree trunks to sawdust; and four toilets, four showers, four cups and eight toothbrushes (so two inmates can brush their teeth at the same time). Running like a clock, The Disciplinator produces little else beyond the passage of time and sawdust. In this nightmare, total functionality meets total futility. Designed and filled with the same precision as space, time becomes indistinguishable from an architectural blueprint.
Collection MAK Vienna
Mini Capsule Side Entrance (6 units)
Mini Capsule Front Entrance, Mini Capsule Side Entrance (6 units) can be viewed as a people farm. Stacked together, the units look like a large fibreglass rabbit hutch, if not the hutches of the mobile Pioneer Set. Each of the six hotel units has space to sleep two people; the interior is not much larger than a double bed and is equipped with the basics: a mattress, sheets, blankets, a nightlight, clothing hooks, an electricity outlet and a shelf. A modest version of Maxi Capsule Luxus, the Mini Capsule is made to function as a budget hotel without staff.
Maxi Capsule Luxus
A larger version of the Mini Capsule, Maxi Capsule Luxus is an entirely self-supporting unit that functions as a mobile hotel room. Its luxuries include a king-size bed, a minibar, an entertainment centre for listening to music and watching films, a heating and ventilation system along with storage facilities for luggage and clothing. Everything is sealed with the shade of love: red fibreglass, red leather, soft red carpet upholstering on the floor, walls and ceiling. The red cube is a machine for concentration and retreat, which contains its comforts inside while carrying its equipment on the exterior surfaces. The technical capacities outside of the cube can provide a contrast to what’s happening inside. Private collection, Milan
Private collection, Milan
Mini Capsule Hotel
732 cm x 245 cm x 270 cm
Mini Capsule Hotel (2002) can be viewed as a people farm. Stacked together, the units look like a large fibreglass rabbit hutch. Each of the six hotel units has space to sleep two people; the interior is not much larger than a double bed and is equipped with the basics: a mattress, sheets, blankets, a nightlight, clothing hooks, an electricity outlet and a shelf.
Mini Capsule Hotel (2002) was part of the following exhibition(s):
‘Das Haus’, Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen (DE), 2008
Location: Collection of Brad Pitt.
3M Minimal Multi Mobile
3M is an exercise in design restraint. AVL made every element as simple and as straightforward as possible in this mobile unit. Beyond the steering wheel, most of the automobile parts were mounted on the body; thus, the headlamps are not built in but rather screwed on to the vehicle’s surface in a crude and minimal way. The driver’s seat is an AVL-Shaker Chair, which can be removed once the 3M has reached its destination.
Caldenborg Chicken Coop
Chickens can really hit the road with this minivan, which has been outfitted with a high-tech, electro-hydraulically motorized chicken run. Caldic collection, Rotterdam
The Dutch like caravans. This one was made for a nice man called Adri who wanted to have a studio next to his house but was unable to get a building permit for an extension. That’s why he came to AVL. The atelier’s solution was to produce the largest possible mobile home, one measuring 3.5 x 13 m, which Adri parked in his garden. A few weeks later, the police and the mayor came by to complain, insisting that the caravan was illegal. But Adri simply pointed his finger to his neighbours who all had caravans and mobile homes parked in their gardens. Adri got to keep his studio caravan, although it is three times bigger than the neighbours’ caravans. Collection Adri Huisman, Maasdijk
After several visits to the slums (favelas) of São Paulo, AVL developed the idea of establishing a working relationship with the favela dwellers. Five façades with windows and doors were made for this purpose in typical AVL style. The plan was to give the façades to the future inhabitants and let them finish building the house on site with locally available materials. The organic way of building that is characteristic of the favelas is appealing; the houses are built on top of each other and next to each other in a haphazard fashion, with no concern for the streets, infrastructure or accessibility to the building. Ultimately, the form of the houses and the city is determined by acute need, available materials and money.
Mix and match: the longer side of Floating Sculpture is based on the old-fashioned architecture of a Zaans huisje (houses that are build in the Zaanstreek in the northern part of Holland). The attached blue bulb with windows (transparent eyes) has a large round bed inside.
Collection city of Amsterdam
Designed in 2000, the house measures only 2.10 x 2.90 m. This dwelling was inspired by the cottages that once stood around the Zuider Zee/IJsselmeer until the 1950s and served as weekday shelters for the local fishermen. Although the shape of the house is traditional and small, the house provides for a pleasant stay. Like many AVL works, this dwelling is an attempt to combine simple solutions from the past with modern applications and materials.
Several units with the Pioneer Set, AVL created a prefabricated farm and equipment, which handily fits into one 40-foot shipping container. Individuals and groups can travel around the world, set up the farm at any location and live self-sufficiently. The set consists of a farmhouse, a stable, a rabbit hutch, a chicken coop, a pig pen, several tools, equipment and fencing. Pioneer Set is a sturdy construction which has been built to function indefinitely, without any need for repairs and extensions. The only things that have to be added and replaced are the farm animals. AVL’s goal was to make a farm set for survival – not to create a farm driven by profit or in competition with other farms. Pioneer Set is a fully functional farm that appeals to the imagination in its concreteness. The set fulfils a nostalgic, utopian and even romantic idea of living: longing to go back to nature, to be independent or even not to be a part of this world.