top of page
Born in 1972, Sint-Truiden, Belgium. Lives in Borgloon.
RESET MOBILE is an ongoing project by Belgian artist Gert Robijns. It revolves around a lightweight structure that functions as an intentionally unprogrammed free space in different versions and locations.
The structure is best compared to a circular tent made up of 24 parts, similar to the world's time zone system. The one-color parachute-like tops are made in different colors, black, deep blue, brown to white, and the colors are deliberately chosen for each specific destination. The supporting ropes and poles can be seen as meridians, resetting a personal time zone from the center of the structure.
The locations and social landscapes where Reset Mobile ends up are part of its contingency. The implications of sending out the mobile, responding to an invitation, or the artist himself gathering a number of friends or artists to set up the structure in a specific place, almost automatically leads to situations where people are forced to work together and automatically begin to discuss the specific situation of what is going on during the construction, why they are together, why they are in a certain place and ultimately together define the meaning and function of the structure they have just set up.
The practice of creating "Freespaces" is not new to Robijns' work. In the early 2000s, he began passing on the artistic responsibilities of a dedicated contemporary art space at the Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp. Each artist who was cited to show his work was given complete freedom to select the next artist in the program, an effective move to free the space from its political implications and abandon all predetermined formats and guidelines on how the space's program was to be filled.
Fifteen years later, Robijns would similarly provide space for artists in RESET HOME, his grandmother's "reset" house, turning it into a space for reflection, presentation and site-specific adaptations in his local village of Borgloon. At some point, however, the artist wanted to reverse direction by bringing artists to the center of this sanctuary and began to think of ways to go outside rather than inside.
In March 2021, Gert Robijns , Tommy Simoens , Lara Manganiello and Jonas Lampens went to the abandoned "Terrill" of Winterslag (Genk) to make a circular marker on the site. Robijns brought a small homemade chimney to fire up some coal, and spent a considerable amount of time grafting a circle in the Terrill's sand, using a grafting device attached with a rope to a chosen center point. This site, a grand landscape of the area's industrial past, combined with the artist's work and the visual marks he left behind, can be seen as a prototype of Reset Mobile. The questions raised by this marker: "what is our industrial and emotional heritage?", "what do we clean up, what do we leave behind and what do we take with us into the future?" are at the heart of ResetMobile's conceptual apparatus.
During the pandemic, Robijns was in remote contact with a group of local artists who committed to creating the Give and Give exhibition. Curated by Tommy Simoens and Charlotte Crevits, the exhibition was part of BIENALSUR, Argentina's art biennial. At a time when international travel was not possible and social gatherings were strongly discouraged, questions about international exchange and the meaning and value of involving local communities in realizing international projects in their own environment led to a collaboration with the Franklin Rawson Museum in San Juan and the local art collective Proyecto Baldío, which produced a parachute according to Gert Robijns' instructions. As with the marking in Winterslag, the collective and Gert Robijns discussed an abandoned gold mine in San Juan County, to which the group eventually traveled to mark the site with a large grafted circle.
Around the same time, another early version of Reset Mobile was set up in Resethome's backyard, and Robijns organized several rounds of debates entitled "Make up / Wake up”. This event simultaneously demonstrated the need for participatory debate, but more so the need for Reset Mobile to go out into the world.
In September 2022, Robijns made the first international trip to Japan with the Reset Mobile. The Reset Mobile landed in Akita, Washinoyama and was part of the Okayama Triennial. These three performances took place in different communities in Japan and each had its own context. In Akita, in northern Japan, Robijns got to work with students at the local university and several actions were taken, including a meaningful one in which only the seal of the mobile floated on the coast of Unosaki.
The second location in Japan was Washinoya Mountain. For the past 3 years, Washinoya and its quarry has been one of international artist Yutaka Sone's studios. Sone and his local collaborators tried to breathe new life into the now-defunct community of stone workers there. Robijns and Sone met at Tommy Simoens gallery in 2017 and have been engaged in an artistic conversation ever since. During COVID, an early version of reset mobile was placed on the mountain by Sone and his friends, marking the beginning of a series of actions that questioned the future of this new local community, with reset mobile serving as a visual question mark as to whether a permanent social sculpture could make sense here. This time, with Gert Robijns present, in the final days of Japan's COVID regulations, the fact that an artist comes from so far to answer an invitation from another artist seemed to be an essential point of how Reset Mobile can upload a situation with meaning.
From this interlocal exchange between Borgloon and Wahinoyama, Reset Mobile traveled on to the Okayama Art Summit, a triennial international exhibition, this time directed by Thai artist Rikrit Tiravanija, titled DO WE DREAM UNDER THE SAME SKY. Tiravanija was aware of Reset Mobile's performances in Argentina, and through Tommy Simoens gallery, Tiravanija, Robijns and Sone have been artistically linked in recent years.
At the center of the triennial, a 1930s elementary schoolyard in Okayama, Tiravanija had a lawn laid out, on which a gardener came daily to cut the grass, conveying the title of the exhibition on a giant scale.
The Reset Mobile was set down on the grass at the entrance to the yard, and in a very natural way it was decided that Tiravanija would serve curry to the public in the mobile, and in this way Reset Mobile became a hub for visitors discussing the exhibition among themselves, something that never happened in previous editions of the art summit. The main goal of the exhibition and of Reset Mobile at that time was the same: to encourage an engaged and self-sufficient audience. There was potential for Okayama to develop an institution and combine international significance with meaningful impact in the local community.
Robijns' trip was documented and filmed and resulted in the film RUSH RUSH, which was presented in the epynomic exhibition at Tommy Simoens later that year.
After the trip, Robijns created a series of 24 drawings inspired by film stills. Reproductions of this series were installed in Antwerp on 24 poles in the public space with the Tommy Simoens gallery on Falconplein as the geographic center. Each "meridian" drawn on the map was numbered from 1 to 24 and became the "lines" on which Robijns would continue his artistic process. This was the beginning of the 24 poles project. First local and close to the center and later as far as New York and Rome (on line 13) in a process that is still unfinished. At each of these poles, an artist was invited to make an artistic intervention.
On Line 6, Cel Crabeels in Antwerp and Ellen Harvey in Ny were the first artists to collaborate. Crabeels went to a local SM store in the Antwerp port area, near the first pole on Line 6, and bought a metal collar with pins that he attached to the top of the pole as a reminder to the local community of the generic urban furniture in Antwerp. In Ny, on Kent avenue in Williamsburg, artist Ellen Harvey attached one of Robijns' reproduced drawings of his Japanese travels to a public pole while having an artistic conversation with Robijns about the implications of the Reset Mobile project in a megacity context.
Other participants to date have included artists Willo Gonnissen, Jacob Lambrecht, Enrico Marcon and Hugo Duchateau.
All 24 'lines' are documented in a series of aluminum boxes, each bearing the number of the line and with drawings, photographs and a map relating to the actions realized. All the artists active on the lines can be seen in the documentaries wearing T-shirts bearing the number of their respective "line. The template used to create them is in fact the cover of these boxes. Two maps mark the 24 lines locally and internationally.
In recent months, several "Droppings" of Reset Mobile's sail were realized in Francochamps, Stoumont, Henri chapelle, Herbricht and Widooie, among others. Here, Reset Mobile functions on a more investigative level. Together with students, artists and friends, the artist places the sail as a giant visual marker in the landscape, the environment is documented with a drone and the participants are filmed during the process.
bottom of page