Former Military Base Features Permanent Music and Art Installation 'The Sound of Nature'
Just outside of Brussels is the town of Vilvoorde, where the Horst Arts and Music Festival has taken place for the past five years. The aim is to bring together the world of art, architecture, and electronic music with exhibitions and site-specific collaborations with artists, set amidst the ruins of a former military base that has been transformed into a public park.
Farah Al Qasimi, a trained musician and artist, was one of the artists brought in by Evelyn Simons, the festival's curator of visual arts and performance for Horst. This year, festivalgoers for the three-day electronic music chapter of Horst could, for the first time, experience Farah's stunning music and light installation, which aimed to show how plants communicate with each other. Now, the work remains a permanent fixture in the park.
Farah's art installations were inspired by Dubai's Butterfly Garden, the larger-than-life theme park that is visually impressive. Farah knew she wanted to create giant plants and flowers but also incorporate music- a passion of hers. The military base is surrounded by woodland, and the abandoned warehouses have been taken over by nature, making it a magical setting.
As a trained musician, Farah realized her love of art when she took a basic drawing class at University, where she was studying music. Farah felt immediately connected to the medium and continued to focus on art, creating large-scale painting, darkroom photography, and sculpture. Today, Farah's work mainly consists of photographs and videos, but she enjoys incorporating music into her work.
When embarking on Horst Arts & Music, Farah realized she wanted to have instruments as part of the sculpture- something she'd never done before. Farah says, "I'm excited by the possibilities of bringing music into my sculptures. It's going to be interesting to see people who don't have a musical background experience the installation".
Farah drew the sculptures and worked with the company Alter Ego, who make theatre settings, and they produced large, 3ft glowing flowers.
Farah searched online for outdoor musical instruments to go alongside these sculptures and came across Percussion Play. However, Farah knew there had to be some customization for her installation. She spoke with the team at Percussion Play and ordered two Harmony Flowers and two Harmony Bells, both of which had custom-painted green frames. Farah also chose the chords to be used in the instruments.
Farah says, "At the festival, people can wander around the park and immerse themselves in a forest of flowers and plants that are much bigger than us. People can tune into these harmonies and play amongst the plants."
The installation, the Buzz Pollinator, aims to show us how nature thrives and operates through the bees but also through sonic emissions of plants and flowers – plants and nature communicating with each other.
Farah says, "The design came from thinking about the invisible networks plants form through pollination and sound. I wanted to mirror that interconnectedness by creating an outdoor space where people could gather and have musical conversations."
Excitingly, Farah's installation will remain permanent, with the instruments available to everyone enjoying the park.