Taking the form of installations, sculpture, and interventions in public and urban space, Maarten Vanden Eynde works examine “the residues of human material practices, with special attention paid to the geological layer we will leave behind for future generations.” (Gregos, 2021) His practice centers on investigations into the materiality of objects that surround us, ranging from the origin of different materials to the contexts in which they are extracted, transported and transformed, to the remains after they are no longer in use. Vanden Eynde undertakes long term research projects in collaboration with specialists from other disciplines such as the exact sciences, sociology, ethnography and anthropology that allow him to focus on a specific topic for many years and generate multiple works and presentation opportunities. He is currently investigating the influence of the transatlantic trade of pivotal materials (like rubber, oil, ivory, copper, cobalt, cotton, lithium and uranium), on the evolution of humankind, the creation of nations, and other global power structures. His project Triangular Trade traces the origins of different materials, following their (r)evolutionary path as they are processed and transformed into “world changing wonders.”
Vanden Eynde’s work has been exhibited in museums and galleries internationally. His retrospective exhibition Digging up the Future will be presented by Mu.ZEE, Ostend and La Kunsthalle, Mulhouse. His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at M HKA, Antwerp; Utrecht University; and Hordaland Art Center, Bergen, among others. He has participated in group exhibitions including Beaufort 21 Triennial; Future Genealogies, #6 Biennale de Lubumbashi; Contour Biennial #9: Coltan as Cotton, Mechelen; RIBOCA, Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art, Riga; 2050: A Brief History of the Future, Palazzo Reale, Milan; Realitiés Filantes, #4 Biennale de Lubumbashi; Slow Future, CCA Ujazdowski Castle; and Stardust in a Nutshell, Savvy Contemporary, Berlin. He was the recipient of the Breakthrough Trajectory Grant 2018, Flemish Community; The Public Prize of the Belgian Art Prize in 2017; and the Art in the City Award 2010, Brussels. With Enough Room for Space, an organization he co-founded in 2005, he was shortlisted for the Belgian Pavilion in Venice in 2020, as the first artist-run initiative ever to be selected. From 2020 to 2023 he is part of the Artistic Research project Matter, Gesture, Soul as a PhD candidate at the University of Bergen, Norway.