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16 December 2021

Rhizome by Tom & Lien Dekyvere

Leicester’s Cultural Quarter can currently be seen glowing into the night as a series of tall structures connected by coloured neon ropes fill Orton Square.

Rhizome is the creation of Belgian artists Tom & Lien Dekyvere – an installation which has toured around the world and is currently spending Christmas as part of BID Leicester and Leicester City Council’s Christmas illuminations. We’re proud to be event managing this mesmerising installation and we had a chat with the artists to get to know more about the artwork:

Tell us more about the project…

Rhizome has been the most successful installation we have had so far. It has been exhibited in over 50 cities worldwide and is the story about (dis)connectivity. In our societies, nature and digital expansions, there are millions of connections. Rhizome exhibits those complex forms by imitating a web structure.

Where did the inspiration for Rhizome come from?

Rhizome actually comes from the term that stands for root structures, or the social web in philosophy. It is interesting to see how trees communicate under the ground and share nutrition in the underground root Rhizomes. If you compare this system with our digital connectivity, nature and technology really relate in form and system. I have a lot of questions about this, and use our Rhizome light installation to represent this.

What is the universal element of the artwork that makes it adaptable to different places around the world?

The work is site specific work, meaning it can be built in almost every scenery. Like a virus it spreads over buildings, in parks, interiors and squares like Orton Square.

How did the project change over time, being in so many different places with so many different environments?

The work mutates to different forms, and the change is based on the locations. For Orton Square, we wanted to create a space in a space. A cocoon to simply be inside, and get caught in for a moment of distraction from our daily actions.

What are the technical difficulties you face?

There have been some moments of heavy rain (during the installation), and the combination with outdoor electricity can be a challenge.

What other projects are you currently working on?

I just got back from Dubai, where we have been building another version of Rhizome, and next up is a 100% charity version close to home in Belgium where we will build Rhizome to help The Children’s Heart Foundation. Every 15 minutes a baby is born with a heart defect. We hope to attract many many visitors with our action and will ask for a small donation to the foundation that is active in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of congenital heart defects.

A light installation outside Curve Theatre in Leicester. Glow in the dark string illuminates the sky like a giant web.

Image: Art Reach