V12 Laraki (2013) is the most important work to date by the African-born Belgian artist Eric van Hove. This stunning sculpture brings together Western industrial tradition, rep- resented in the car engine, and more than a thousand years of craftsmanship heritage of the Maghreb region in Africa. Created in collaboration with 43 talented craftsmen from across Morocco who worked consistently for nine months, the work is comprised of 53 locally sourced materials, handcrafted to replicate roughly 455 individual components of the Mercedes-Benz V12 engine, and then assembled. The engine is a tribute to the respected Moroccan designer Abdeslam Laraki, who at the International Geneva Motor Fair in 2004 unveiled the Laraki Fulgra, a luxury sports car intended to help stimulate an indigenous car manufacturing industry in Morocco. Laraki imported the Mercedes-Benz V12 piston engine, famed for its muscular output, to power the Laraki Fulgra because he could not produce the car’s high-performance engine locally. However, with V12 Laraki van Hove helps Abdeslam Laraki to complete his ambition. The engine is not functional. Instead it is supremely beautiful. More importantly, as an artwork, it reflects the artist’s abiding interest in bridging cultures and bringing multiple temporalities together.
Eric van Hove was born in Guelma, Algeria, in 1975 and grew up in Yaounde, Cameroon. In 2001, he earned a B.A. from École de Recherche Graphique, Brussels, Belgium. This was followed by an M.A. and a Ph.D. in classical Japanese calligraphy from the Tokyo Gakudei University, Tokyo, Japan, in 2005 and 2008, respectively. He currently lives between Brussels, Belgium, and Marrakech, Morocco. A roving global artist who speaks a dozen languages including English, French, Flemish, Arabic, and Japanese, van Hove has developed a cosmopolitan consciousness that manifests significantly in his artistic practice. His creative work, intellectual pursuits, and deep engagement with some of the compelling issues of today such as climate change, inequality, political dogma, and intolerance, suggest that not only is he is a socially conscious artist of unquestionable pedigree but also headed for the zenith of the contemporary art world.