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23 Dec 2009

Rogier van der Weyden in your living room

©Museo del Prado/Johan Geleyns/Dirk Leunis/Walter Verdin 2009

SLIDING TIME Walter Verdin 2009


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On line since the finissage of the exhibition
'Rogier van der Weyden 1400 l 1464 – Master of Passions'
M. M for Museum Leuven, 20-09-2009 - 06-12-2009

As an introduction to the 'Rogier van der Weyden 1400 l 1464 – Master of Passions' exhibition at M. M for Museum Leuven (Belgium), Walter Verdin created a multi-screen installation entitled SLIDING TIME. Through this installation he was able to return The Descent from the Cross from the Prado to the city for which it had first been painted. For many visitors, SLIDING TIME was a revealing introduction into the muted emotions that, with his feeling for detail, Rogier van der Weyden imbued with life in his paintings. Incidentally, the museum's auditorium – where the installation was displayed – became an impromptu sanctuary over the past few months; an oasis of calm, away from the hectic energy of the city.

Now that the exhibition has finished, Artes.Leuven together with Corban has produced a website on which The Descent from the Cross can be viewed in conjunction with the ideas embodied in the installation. SLIDING TIME has now been reincarnated for people to see, wherever in the world they may be.


Rogier van der Weyden painted his prime masterpiece The Descent from the Cross for the chapel of Leuven's Crossbow Guild in around 1435-1440. More than a century later, it caught the eye of the art-loving Spanish King Philip II, and the panel was removed to Spain. It is currently part of the collection of the Prado Museum in Madrid. For technical reasons, it cannot be transported. Curator Jan Van der Stock therefore asked Walter Verdin to produce a video installation so that the masterpiece could nonetheless still be part of the exhibition.

The Descent from the Cross by Rogier van der Weyden, at first sight a single plane in space and time, is in reality a 'multi-dimensional moment'. In SLIDING TIME this frozen moment swells and contracts in long, repetitive, pulsating movements, focusing on the ten figures, back and forth, and always reverting to the original composition.

Each of the figures has been given his own screen. The ten screens are arranged so that the carefully selected close-ups of the ten figures reflect the initial composition as ever-recurring opening and closing images. The positions of the screens are therefore a logical consequence of van der Weyden's own composition.

How the screens have been arranged in terms of depth of field has also been determined by the composition of the painting itself: on first seeing, the viewer differentiates five depths, which on closer inspection nevertheless seem to flow into one another. The slow movements across the figures necessarily make them shift from one screen to the next, and hence from one spatial level to the next.

The scene contains not only a spatial but also a 'temporal' trompe l'oeil: the events that are depicted do not all happen at the same time: we see three different scenes, bundled together in a single moment: the descent from the cross, the lamentation and the entombment scene all come together in this masterwork.
The installation invites the observer to consider the muted emotions in the tableau in all their detail and to suffuse himself in them. Thanks to its steadfast fidelity to the original work, SLIDING TIME formed a perfect introduction to the now already memorable 'Rogier van der Weyden, Master of Passions' exhibition.

The website at is currently available on line and brings another version of the installation right into your living room. The visitor can now even zoom in on the various figures as they slowly, inexorably glide across the screen in a 7-minute-long recurring movement.


reproduction: Johan Geleyns; technical coordination: Koen Bauwens; realisation: Fisheye; website: bxlab
copyrights: Museo del Prado, Johan Geleyns, Walter Verdin 2009
production: Corban for Artes.Leuven


As a graphic artist, Walter Verdin came into contact with Belgium's music scene after graduating in history of art and the expressive arts. With his own compositions, he scored a number of hits in Flanders, including Rendez-Vous (1983), the extraordinary Belgian entry for the Eurovision Song Contest. In 1984, he presented his first video concert, VIDEORHYTHMICS. Since then, he has especially concentrated on video concerts and video installations. At the beginning of the 90s, he produced a number of internationally acclaimed dance videos and his video work concentrated chiefly on the world of theater. In the past ten years, Walter Verdin has mainly worked on his own audio-visual projects. A presentation of the XAFRIKA video concert and a short workshop with local dancers in Maputo, Mozambique, in 2005 formed the basis of a series of intensive video workshops and ever-increasing collaborative links with African artists: video artists, dancers and musicians, amongst others. At present, he is working on two projects in particular: TIMBILA STORIES, a video concert dealing with the nearly extinct music of the timbila, an instrument acknowledged by UNESCO as cultural heritage, and the inter-active dance performance GUESTS, in which African dancers move to manipulate images and sounds. These projects are being created both in Maputo and in Brussels. Presentations are expected in the spring of 2010. - -