Haseeb Ahmed (2014-2018)
The Wind Egg
Promotor UA: prof. dr. Staf Van Tendeloo
Promotor SLA: Werner Van dermeersch
The wind, as a fluid medium, carries nutrients in grains of sand from the Sahara necessary to feed the Amazon rainforests and just as many metaphors. We cannot touch the wind and yet we can feel it on our skin, we cannot see the wind only the way it effects the things around us. Its elusive properties have engendered some of the most ancient histories of attempting to describe its movements. My artwork engages with these histories and the scientific approaches to the wind. The concept of the wind egg reaches back over 3000 years to ancient Egyptian, Greek, Indian, Chinese, and Arabic cultures. Held as fact until the 17th century it postulates that animals and people can reproduce with the wind as plants do. Vultures in particular were thought to be exclusively female and reproduce solely with the Western wind. Taking them as my starting point and using the modern wind tunnel technology at the von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics (VKI), a NATO aeronautics facility on the outskirts of Brussels, collaborating researchers and I work to realize the wind egg, to inevitably allow for the possibility of human reproduction with the wind and without men and freeing both from their nature with technology.
The Wind Egg Experiment consists of a trilogy of realizations. First at the VKI, then at Harlan Levey Projects, a commercial gallery in Brussels, and lastly at the Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp ( (M HKA). By essentially recreating the same facilities in each place we can track how these supposedly neutral spaces condition perception and production within them.
The intended audience for this PhD in practice-based arts is as wide-ranging as the fields that this work mobilizes. The artworks, studies and resulting book were created through a forays into disciplinary territories ranging from nano-fabrication and physics, in the lab of my promotor Prof. Dr. Staf Van Tendeloo to philosophy and art history which Werner Van Dermeersch of Sint Lucas Antwerp often discussed. In particular, my work sits at the intersection of fluid dynamics and art. I have endeavored to make art with the wind.
Through my involvement with Prof. Olivier Chazot and others at the von Karman Institute of Fluid Dynamics I have engaged with the wind using modern wind tunnel technology and experimental visualization techniques. This PhD was sited for the first three years with the Size Matters research group at the Zurich University led by Prof. Florian Dombois and funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. There we built our own wind tunnel for artistic rather than technical inquiry.
With Zurich University of the Arts and Von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics.
Photo Credits © M HKA