Wim Delvoye

Born in Wervik, Belgium in 1965, Wim Delvoye often unites decorative elements with everyday functions into new and hybrid constellations, characterized by irony and humor.

Beside his deep interest for the brand, Wim Delvoye is one of the foremost collectors of The Laughing Cow® labels. He has assembled more than six thousand of them, dating from the beginning of the brand in the 1920s to the present day.

In 2005, he featured a selection of some thousands of them in an artwork entitled On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life in an ironic tribute to Darwin and the Bel Group inventive marketing strategies.

The Collector’s Edition Box by Wim Delvoye for Lab’Bel
by Michael Staab, associate curator.

With Collector’s Edition Box #4, Wim Delvoye turns from box collector to designer of the box itself, in a conceptual proposition which will, with no doubt, become a valuable and a really special item of  his collection.

On the Collector’s Edition Box top sticker, the familiar image of The Laughing Cow® is complemented by a baroque-style circular frame with a carved floral pattern, which at second glance is recognizable  as a car tire. But what has a car tire to do with cheese? Both the industrially produced cheese and the car wheel are basic, common objects, not due to a lack in quality, but simply by virtue of their omnipresence. Processed cheese is manufactured from high-quality natural ingredients and can be found en masse worldwide on supermarket shelves and every home kitchen table. It is not, however,  on the menu in gourmet restaurants. A car tire is likewise a mass-produced, technically complex industrial product. Seen individually, however, it is merely a black, unwieldy, smelly object that no one would want to keep in the home. Both products are totally unpretentious.

Wim Delvoye produces a kind of value-emulsion, a hybrid of mass-product and uniqueness. He has had an aesthetically pleasing pattern carved into a standard commercial tire. By his artistic design and conceptual approach, this particular tire has been elevated from the road to the museum, and the value of the object multiplies thousand-fold. Since the cheese box is now associated with this recognized art, it too undergoes a fantastic ascent: from mass product on the supermarket shelf to the Olympus of the art system – the rules of which it promptly undermines, for where can you buy good art today for only a few euros?

The Wim Delvoye Images Collection is featuring eight pictures of Carved Tyres, all different, since  on each tyre the ornament has developed according to the existing tyre-profile; eight pictures  from the series Twisted Tyres, wheels which, on the basis of mathematical nodal calculations, have  turned into twisted elements made of black metal and chromium, thus rendering the dynamism of  locomotion in a new manifestation; finally, four pictures of Gothic Trucks – common utility vehicles,  but constructed using Gothic stylistic elements. This undermining of the serviceable design elevates it to an almost religious level, further enhanced through dynamic torsions that annul the proper function of the vehicles, endowing them with a new purpose: that of being unique, not useful. As is so often the case in art.