The Reptile Room

The Reptile Room

Tom Liekens

solo exhibition

23.04.2021 05.06.2021

With their artificial lighting, terrariums with reptiles and greenhouses with plants stand out against a dark or black-and-white background. They are microclimates, in which humans confine and cherish a piece of nature. ‘Our urge to control nature and bring it into our homes intrigues me,’ says Tom Liekens (Bonheiden, Belgium 1977). ‘It’s a tendency I have myself.’ As a child, he already had a terrarium, and now his living room is a cross between a reptile room and a contemporary cabinet of curiosities.

The imitation – and thus simultaneous denial – of nature stems from curiosity and fascination. But at the same time, it is a display of dominance. ‘Our relationship with other animals is disturbed. We shoot wolves out of the woods and have a dog. We seek wild nature, but prefer to exhibit it behind bars in a zoo.’ Tom compares this to watching movies: a fantasized version of nature, brought to you on a television set, which you can watch while eating chips. A good deal of our conceptualization comes from Hollywood versions of reality. Take for example our ideas about dinosaurs, which became extinct long before the dawn of humankind, but of which we nevertheless have a very vivid mental picture. Our picture of dinosaurs has evolved from clumsy lizards to elaborately worked-out monsters, about which we even presume to know the colours and sounds. Meanwhile, the once dangerous T-rex has been tamed to become a nursery toy.

• Visit the solo exhibition Never Too Old To Cut The Banana When Erected by Lola Keyezua at the same time.

Special Events

Friday 23.04.2021, Saturday 24.04.2021 and Sunday 25.04.2021: 13.00 / 18.00 • Amsterdam Art Opening Weekend.
You are welcome to join us for the opening of The Reptile Room, which will happen together with the opening of Never Too Old To Cut The Banana When Erected by Lola Keyezua. (Following the Dutch COVID-19 regulations).


2021 •
26.04 Metropolis M Joint Opening Weekend #2: Amsterdamse galeries openen gezamenlijk hun deuren by Pernilla Ellens

The Reptile Room