Breendonk Chair

In the summer of 1984, I visited the Fort of Breendonk with Australian industrial musician, filmmaker and hair stylist Paul Hurst, and Christine Glover. The fort was used as a concentration camp by the Germans during World War II. Together with Hurst, I realised several photo shoots and sound performances with portable radios and cassette players, including in the room where detainees were interrogated and tortured by the Fort’s Nazi commander, Philipp Johann Adolf Schmitt. In the room, two large sharp wooden wedges were set up on the floor.

After the visit to Breendonk, I made a metal sculpture of a chair with two wedges. In the fifteenth issue of the magazine Force Mental, the reproduction of the sculpture is accompanied by a short text: “Pro-Breendonk is another chair for a favourable quest. Major Schmitt, who had himself ordered the decoration of the torture-room, was brought back there during his trial, he had only one remark: the wooden wedges, on which the prisoners hanging from the pulley, were dropped when they refused to confess, was ‘a little too high’”.

From the sound performances and photo shoots, Club Moral released ‘Pro-Breendonk’ in late 1984, a C-30 cassette with five untitled tracks, accompanied by a set of postcards with photos (CM45). In 2020, Italian label menstrualrecordings released a reissue on vinyl, accompanied by a booklet with photos (LH120). Tracks from the cassette can also be found on The Internet Archive as part of the ‘Club Moral Stocklist’ series.

The Fort of Breendonk is an entrenched stronghold built in 1906-1913 as part of the defensive belt around Antwerp. On 20 September 1940, the first prisoners entered the fort, one Belgian and three Jews from Central Europe. Of the 3,590 prisoners whose passage at Breendonk is documented, 303 died on the spot (including executions), 54 were executed elsewhere and 1,741 subsequently lost their lives in concentration camps. Camp commander Philipp Schmitt was sentenced to death by the court martial in Antwerp and executed in Hoboken on 8 August 1950.

Metal, 110cm x 33cm x 33cm.
Property of the artist.

Shown at:
  • Fantastic Voyage through the Body of an Artist in Kiosk, Gent, Belgium, 2024.

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