In the city of Charleroi just north of Brussels in Belgium sits an abandoned power station. Originally built in 1921, the coal-burning Power Plant IM remained operational for almost 90 years until it came under scrutiny for its massive carbon footprint and was decommissioned in 2007.
But its magnificent cooling tower still looms, offering urban explorers and photographers stunning, dystopian views. Now, Azuma Makoto, the Japanese botanical artist, has created a surreal installation within the tower’s moss-covered innards.
The artist, who is known for creating surreal backgrounds and settings (like the edge of our atmosphere) for his flower and bonsai installations, recently shared photographs of his latest work. “Shiki 1 x The Abandoned Power Plant” is a bonsai plant suspended in mid-air by wires attached to a metallic frame. It was installed over the weekend inside the cooling tower of Belgium’s Cooling Tower IM.
Despite the seemingly distressed look and feel of his uprooted plant, all of Azuma’s bonsai are carefully extracted from their earth, photographed, and then once again returned to their original position without harm. Although Azuma is rarely political in his work, I can’t help but interpreting this piece as a statement about our human desire to harness and control nature and energy.