The Altar of Antwerp is an interactive installation in HET MAS Museum. It is a point of reflection in the city about how we deal with loss. It is inspired by the relationship between life and death in pre-Columbian cultures in South America and is set up in the MAS in honour of Día de Muertos since 2012.
Visitors to the Altar of Antwerp can commemorate people there. We are always connected to all of our memories. We can connect ourselves to our past. Just like life itself, the Altar takes many forms and is different every year; a colourful organism that is supplemented with a new layer of meaning by a different artist every year.
Setting up the Altar in a museum is a challenge, because how do you preserve something that cannot be preserved?
In contrast to the Altar of Antwerp, since 2013, a traditional Mexican altar has been erected by an organisation appointed by the Mexican Embassy. Since 2017, the Altar of Antwerp has been part of the collection of the MAS. It has also been included as an ‘ambassador’ in the register of good practices for intangible heritage in Flanders.
MAP – Mestizo Arts Platform
More than 170 nationalities live together in Antwerp. Mestizo Arts Platform is a collective of artists from different cultural backgrounds, all living in Europe. Their collaboration includes an invaluable wealth of stories and cultural capital. They blend traditions, aesthetics and visions into a larger cultural whole and enrich the prevailing culture with new perspectives and information. In this way, they contribute to the future and create a unique and rich cultural heritage for all of us.
MAP, the initiator and curator of the Altar of Antwerp, asks one or more artists to add a new layer to the versatile installation each year. By means of workshops or campaigns, visitors can also contribute to it. In this way, the Altar continues to grow and becomes a living museum piece of collective value.