HALO
Photos: © Johnny Umans

HALO

Gijs Van Vaerenbergh Architects as Architects

Gijs Van Vaerenbergh creates a monumental artwork that heightens the transcendent atmosphere of the church in which it is placed

Mirroring the golden nimbuses of the saints depicted on the wall frescos, a giant halo encircles the central area of the historically renovated Saint Odulphus church of Borgloon (Belgium). The gold coloured ring, composed of aluminium, is 15 meters in diameter and is suspended at a height of 4.1 meters. 

HALO binds together the different parts of the church –aisles, nave, transept, and apse– and at the crossing encloses the place of communal worship. By traversing the different areas of the church, the ring can in fact only be seen in fragments, yet in the mind of the viewer HALO is perceived as a perfect circle.

 

A minimalistic gesture with a profound impact
HALO is a work filled with meaning; departing from the site, it references religious iconography, and plays on the circle as a universal sign of eternity, unity, cyclicity, and divinity. The artwork complements the age-old interior and its sacred artefacts seamlessly. Drawing on the symbolism of the ring, HALO, in its monumental dimensions, further heightens this symbollically charged place.

This play with references and plural readings is exemplary of Gijs Van Vaerenbergh’s oeuvre. By introducing a contemporary element, they transform the experience of a place, and in this instance, rethink sacred space.

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