Assembly|Memorial Chairs

IFFM & Val Carman

  • Astridpark, Ieper
  • remembrance


For the final weekend of the centenary commemoration, the In Flanders Fields Museum was inspired by Val Carman’s artistic and participatory project Assembly.  Chairs from all the countries and regions soldiers had come from to die in Belgium during the First World War have been brought together.

A war leaves empty chairs

These past few months, people from around the world were found willing to donate a chair for this project. Many chairs carry unique stories and intentions. In representing the emptiness felt a hundred years ago, these chairs also symbolize the participation of countless people at this unique moment in history. The chairs will not return to their country of origin, but will remain in Ieper, just like the fallen soldiers. Eventually, they, too, will preserve the unique worldwide memory of this centenary commemoration.

The empty chairs will be deployed in an intimate installation in the Astrid Park. The chairs will be illuminated by candlelight. The lantern will show the chair’s country of origin and the distance it travelled to Ieper. The city of Ieper’s Parks Department will plant white flowers in the park for the occasion. Lester Simpson will provide a soundscape that will play there for three days.

On Friday 9 November, at 5 p.m., volunteers will bring the chairs - over a hundred of them - plus the five chairs from Passchendaele church in procession from the museum’s courtyard to the Astrid Park. The procession will be accompanied by the female voices of Bella Donna.

Children along the procession route will light up the event with beet lanterns. Indeed, 11 November is also the Feast of St. Martin or Martinmas! Under the guidance of the Yper Museum, the teachers and pupils of the H. Family’s arts department, members of the Papa Scouts and the St. Martin’s committee, children from the greater Ieper area will literally and figuratively shed new light on a piece of local heritage and become part of this artistic project. The candles for the beets will be supplied by ’t een en ’t ander.

The installation will be on display from 6 until 10 p.m. on Friday 9 November and from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 November.  Afterwards, the chairs will become part of the collection of the In Flanders Fields Museum. A booklet detailing all participating countries and chairs will be available.

Shipping company DHL Express België/Belgique sponsored the packaging and journey made by the chairs.
With the support of the Flemish government.