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Primeval Atom

Wed 01.12.2021
CURATORS: De Nieuwe Opdrachtgevers

Last year, we rallied Leuven’s diverse inhabitants to help us consider a new artwork for the city. This group of committed citizens voted for French artist Félicie d’Estienne d’Orves. Her creation is equally intriguing and thought-provoking – a perfect match for the Big Bang theme.

Starting 1 December, you can experience the wonder of the universe with an artwork all Leuven’s own.

IMG 2045


Primaeval Atom harks back to Georges Lemaître’s theory that revolutionised science. That radical quality inspired d’Estienne d’Orves to steer clear of traditional art. Instead, her concept encompasses the whole of the inner city, which, for her, is the ideal symbolic representation of our universe. Up to 80 locations contain small medallions with representations of the various galaxies. Near St Peter’s Church, a huge depiction of the primaeval atom is displayed – the beginning of time and space and, consequently, of us all. The installation scans the sky for galaxies and reveals those currently over Leuven – and their distance from it – in LED lights.

Ultimately, 'Primeval Atom' brings the universe closer to Leuven and all who live, work, or reside there. Félicie d’Estienne d’Orves’ stunning creation perfectly captures what Leuven is all about, i.e. innovation, creativity, transcending boundaries, and seeing the world – and the universe – through a broader, more colourful lens.



Félicie d’Estienne d’Orves’s works combine light, sculpture, and cutting-edge technology. Her research focuses on vision and its related processes and conditioning. Her immersive installations take a phenomenological approach to reality, underscoring the perception of time as a continuum. Since 2014, the artist has made space as it relates to astrophysics and the study of natural light cycles the focus of her study.


Carmiña Caballero, Carolien Coenen, Dirk Baro, Frank Luyts, Freyia Han, Hanne Reumers, Helga Gielen, Hildegard Van Hove, Jan Weynants, Jeroen Reumers, Joris Van Damme, Kristel van den Boom, Lutgarde De Haes, Manuel Van De Weijer, Martine De Flander, Mieke Vanbergen, Myriam Tollet, Radegonda Bröde, Saskia Gheysens, Wim Roeckx

Special thanks to Maarten Soete, Christel Dusoleil and Veerle Van Schoelant.

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