Convento São Francisco de Mértola
Dutch artist Christiaan Zwanikken makes computer-controlled mechanical sculptures, many of which use animal skeletons he has found in the Nature Preserve of the Convento.
Christiaan is initiator and Programme Director of the Artist Residencies and assists -if needed- artists during their stay at the Convento.
If not on display elsewhere, his installations and works in progress can be found in the Convento's chapel that has been converted to an artist's studio. Other works live quiet lives, like the robotic donkey which walks an endless circle, lifting water to compound’s highest point, to trickle down and nurture the gardens.
His interest lies not primarily in a stunning technical achievement. Instead he looks to link his art, which is inanimate, with the living world. His constructions show human or animal behaviour and thus serve as tools for studying, unravelling and commenting on nature. The constructions do not simply operate, they ‘behave’. And it is the machines’ very behaviour that shows their maker to be both curious about and familiar with animal and plant life.