dinsdag 2 augustus 2022

fifteen documents and more

 

As for documenta fifteen, well can't say I saw much...

 

Empty Friedrichsplatz dead grass


The controversy had already taken it's toll: the head curator threw in the towel, one artist decided to bail, press having more than one field-day... heat wave slowed the teeming masses to a trickle... or so it seemed with the empty Friedrichsplatz scorching in the sun... clock ticking away time resource and meaning... the venues slightly modified in an attempt to pull them into the public space at large – trying to whittle away the difference between art & life – Flux-like as seen before – as have many of the issues touched upon, but presented differently perhaps, less top down Marxist dialectics and more exotic (Indonesian) names for similar concepts, slightly re-appropriated like the 'ekosistem/ecosysteem' - and yes, the lumbung rice barn – premise is that there is a surplus to redistribute horizontally – anyone who travels around Africa or 'global south' can see USAid, EU and UN food sacks reworked as clothes tents and bedding – but that's colonial charity, not what is wanted here... But one can't help comparing the offerings with the many NGOs vying for funds for all sorts of empowering projects worldwide – And while there are quite a few proposals on how to kick start one's own economy, (virtually if not otherwise) most seem content to blame historical wrongs by, well yes, the north/west... 

 

Neue Halle goes south


Archives are a good start, documentation and contextualization – identify where things have gone wrong and correct them... archives, like libraries need stable environments, time to collate and consider, background knowledge to fit into perspective... we are looking at places of study here – call them universities, - ones that process all information, and not just a selection – for that you need freedom, and that is where the tensions emerge – where is what appropriate and when should an expression be subdued?

variation on 'wir sind das volk'?

They should have left the controversial work and had a decent discussion about its ramifications instead of taking it down and running off – sort of pulled the plug on the whole affair, which now looks more like an adventure holiday with a bad conscience than a real cultural confrontation... especially in the light of the reemergence of a 'European Theatre of Operations' with the first act 'Donbass' already well under way and grain stuck in ships instead of lumbungs...

 

wonder what Spoerri thinks of this


Otherwise right down our alley, having been busy with alternative group-run spaces and fringe socio-cultural programs for ever so long- it has a familiar feel to it, but perhaps victim of its own success and not made for this kind of showcase... more preparation might have helped, but then if organized like a real show beside the point again. 

 

quaint?

 

vrijdag 15 april 2022

Rear-viewing

 

Rear-viewing reviews


Being involved in a retrospective presentation with additional collation effort and analysis, I found that there is a general tendency in this field which I welcome... another look at / second take on works by people who never made much of an issue about their 'careers' and such, but who's work and activities are up there with the best – if not even better...

As with icebergs, the main body of a cultural field is below the surface and what can be seen is just a chance corner of the whole – before it turns over and we se another part – in the meantime we tend to forget the submerged and see parts of it only when the turn takes place... short moments indeed and that is why I appreciate even to most flighty glimpse...

 



The most amicable of these short shows is the presentation of 'Patrice Verhofstadt et ses collectionneurs' initiated by Dominique Thirion and friends at the Maison de Culture Uccle, - a nice selection of work by an artist unknown to the markets but very much appreciated by friends, and, with some effort such as this show, might still gain a place in the subconscious of the art scene – even if this latter is so preoccupied with what is new and fresh it does not have much time for the precursors of todays tendencies...

It is a rather unique moment, with a lot of works not seen for ages being shown, and probably will not be seen again for some time... a gathering of friends as it were – hopefully there can still be a publication of sorts to document the fact, since otherwise it is again only for thoses that were there...

 




More systematic perhaps is the approach taken by Ronny van de Velde, now engaged more than ever to present his collections and curiosities, away from the big commercial presence he had for so many years – and yes, the one that I prefer is Wout Vercammen, who as an old friend had always been in the wings, but as Nihil impossible to show – until the very end at least, and now again, in various contexts from the good ol days – illustrating not only his talent but positioning of his stance in the ever-important sixties...




Various works to be seen in the InBox-series at the MuHKA, but also Rossaert and around town... the beginning of a major posthumous careeer perhaps, and why not (really fifty-fifty)...

 

 





Even more thought out and systematic is the presentation of collections allsorts by Eric Fabre at his Cosmos garage – dating back a bit further but essentially along the same thought-lines; 

Chaosmos, la ligne oublié – inspired by the book by Marc Partouche, bohèmes, avant-garde et art contemporaine de 1830 a nos jours – tracing poetical, scientific and personal lines through the historic, the live and the (nearly-) forgotten – again, an important exercise in these times of quick-fix and superficial associations – these being more tenuous but stronger by wit... 

Written texts and conferences to accompany the viewer, interaction with live-and-kicking artists, a sumptious small gathering that gives you brain a good work out as well as your aesthetic palate.


More to come (until mai 1st)


zaterdag 5 februari 2022

archival sessions (again)

 Been involved with archival sessions again, this time harking back to the fifty-fifty era...


only a few anonymous participants, homage to straatman who could not be there, painting landscapes in Mexico...


(thanks to calosM)

maandag 24 januari 2022

Anniverse l'Art

 

It's Art's Birthday and I'm on the train to Antwerp
Even though there is no party tonight, we celebrate the falling of a dry sponge into the prehistoric bucket of water some 100 000  and fourty five or so years ago... Remembering too when it was noy yet again such a fad, in between fads as it were, when Dennis Anderson scheduled a AB part at his gallery around the corner, to which I was not specifically invited and which at the time I consdered a ruse of sorts, not really being a party but a staged so'ething or other... Set- piece theatre or installation, performance, happening ( to use a good ol term).. My reticence at the time might have been the basis for a refusal after being asked to host a AB meeting at the Factor 44 years later, proposed by a radio-artist and related to the ERU network of sound pieces, live, international... He was also the brother of one of my colleagues... Afterwards I was somewhet sad we didn't do it after all... But then in hindsight perhaps not...
Because,
Maybe it was due to that refusal that we didn't have to organize a party every year on the 17th, and, given the fact that they found a venue at the Museum, made it possible to be a yearly bash with all kinds of participants far more elaborate than what we might have been able to do...
(they messed up Ghent quite a bit by imposing modern buildings onto the station area, making for a heady mismatch which will wear off soon and become just plain ugly...)

 
 
 And
After visiting quite a few of these Art's Birthdays since, I can only say a fe of them seemed worthwhile and in the spirit of Filliou, the others being more of a showcase for young talent type of thing, which is not a problem, but I would have liked more 'cucumbrland' attitudes... And in the end with lockdown and masks and passes and all that it no longer seemed viable... Hence this discreet monday-version...
So
This is a sort of birthday outing, and reverie, dérive, whatever one might consider this small corner of the genial republic to be, etrnally, internally and externally... By way of homage I am considering not getting off at Berchem but to continue to the central station to see on the wall a pram, but also in consideration of the desription given by W.G. seebald in his book 'Austerliz'... Which so it seems is subject to a new dance-theatre production opening soon...
We shall see.
(here my old haunt from library-school days... dampoort)
I should take Seebald to hand again, it trailed off after the period of renovations-reading back in 2009, why I don't quite know... Something came up, and I put it aside with the notion to continue, but then didn't... Still the book never made it back to the shelf, and has been waiting on the 'to do' pile ever since... This is the fitting opportunity, it seems to me...
(see if we pass the small towers, maybe this train goes into the tunnel too ...)

woensdag 29 december 2021

year's end update, sort of

 

I would have liked to do a positive and upbeat report on the new horizons opened up with the easing of restrictions, but alas, it was short-lived and somewhat dowdy... On the one hand happy to be able to visit museums and such again without too much ado – Covid passes are a relatively minor problem when considering the real havoc the virus has created in many countries not so lucky to have economies able to splurge on large amounts of vaccines for it's populace – but even then people seem unhappy... 

 

Anyway, the shows that we were able to see were okay, though I must admit I have a tendency to like the more retrospective ones... While the idea of Eurasia at the Antwerp Contemporary museum is not uninteresting, it is not new and presenting a colorful collection of all and nothing does not really give it umpf – sure – there are always interesting finds – but much like the 'wunderkamer' of yore (and which had been discarded for dedicated theme shows) it is just that... wonderment for those who have never seen this or that – while for older generations there is not much added value. One might say the same of the retrospective ICC show, a mix and match of 'déjà-vues” but here quite the contrary happens, reminding and augmenting already known information in a new light and making it even more interesting than it already was...


 

I enjoyed the retro-view of Marianne Berenhaut, someone I've been watching for a while and always appreciated the downtrodden humor depicted in the objects she collects along the way, to bring them together in an all the more disturbing conversation, avoiding the pathetic but reminding us of the fragility of our so-called cultivation... That she has been 'discovered' in recent years is a very good thing, because otherwise this important artist might have just faded into the musty folds of history (again) and been just an anecdotal footnote perhaps in the gallery of artist-artists... while if fact she was always more than an also-ran... an interesting case in point which I will keep an eye on in the future – see what happens.


 

At the BPS 22 I was a bit skeptical of the “Penultimate version of reality' by Brognon-Rollin at first – fearing yet another collection of all-sorts which seems to be a la mode nowadays ( ...admittedly I myself had been a great purveyor of such shows in an alternative past but in a museum context I expect more slice) But the fact that it is a selection by a seasoned duo in a sort of retrospective mode rather than a theoretical exercise makes it palpable – intriguing and to a degree pleasant in it's depressiveness, featuring the folly of humanity as comfy cushion. Anything but in fact, making us aware of the thin line to disaster along the edge of every day. Maybe it is because of the disaster unfolding outside that the disturbing presentations seem familiar and cozy as compared with the reality unfolding outside – one which is commented on by Alexis Dekonninck in his 'sleeping on concrete' performance series involving a playful re-use of temporary structures.... for me it is a bit bitter, since I thought the trees that have now been removed in front of the museum were it's best asset.

 



 

The fourth mail-art offering (this time Barbery & Stuckens) is interesting but perhaps a bit less than the first three and incorporating quite a bit of similar stuff – which is perhaps also a normal illustration of the phenomenon mail-art, in which authorship and re-distribution tend to favor the most active – which is why: the hard core of the surviving scene are a bunch of people known to each other for quite some time now... but as a reference to various (ether) media (radio, cassettes, records..) and insight to the contemporary social media phenomena it can count – good series, hope to see more diversity in future...

Also passed by the CivA, but there too, so much to see that nothing really stuck even though there were things that attracted the attention, for a bit, but then surpassed/exchanged for the next... the guidelines sort of tell the story – like a switchboard scheme, interesting for those that are looking for a specific glitch.


 

vrijdag 17 september 2021

 

Left early


For Paris on the fast train straight from Antwerp to Paris Nord... Arived a bit later than scheduled but early enough to make our first stop a boulangerie and the a grand crème next to Sainte Eustache... From where we proceeded by metro to the Etoile, place Charles De Gaule where they were installing Christo's 'Arc de Triomphe, wrapped' -finally after years of asking, pleading, wrangling... (project first proposed in 1962' which makes it apt to this research...) and reminding me of Jiorno's comment that " the best thing an artist can do for his career is to die.."


 


But we leave that to one side for the moment and reconsider the reason for going in the first place... Jef Lambrecht's video of the reichstag-wrapping - I also appreciate Christo's work, beginning with Valley Curtain, and later also the smaller works that probably inspired Jef to package various works, often including found packages of Peter Stuyvesant cigarettes as part of the recurring series of processes concerning his fight with the tobacco giant. He also used packaging methods in his performances, resulting sometimes in more-or-less permanent sculptures, but more often than not short-lived statements... (often making use of furniture without asking the owner's consent, and after the exhibition they would be returned to regular duty as chair...)


Former BIWA co-director Karel told me about how Jef was adament about going to Paris the meet Christo during his wrapping of the Pont Neuf - he wanted to make some sort of BIWA combination-piece or conversation piece, but there was no funding and it is unclear if Jef went to Paris at the time on his own, since Karel was not willing to pay for his own travel and expenses... So far I have not found any specific reference to the Pont Neuf project. (but pretty certain he went anyway...)




A very different story is the wrapping of the Reichstag in Berlin. By this time BIWA as such no longer existed and so it was an independent effort, but still related to BIWA Ear or Earth, as far as I can remember.. ( will have to check to ascertain if he still used the BIWA label for his presentation..)

Jef filmed the wrapping process with his own handycam, even though he was there in an official capacity for the state radio ( I think) he made his own reportage entitled "Reichstag im Negligé" which he presented at the AK-37 in 1995....(video will be run as soon as digitized)


I had planned to show this video as an opener at the archive presentation in his home town Avelgem because the hosts were also into Christo and had some works of his on display... Why not use this coincidence... Then, when it became clear that the Arc de Triomphe project was going to be ahead and the video of the Berlin project would not be ready I thought I would shoot a sequel as a sort of homage...


Emerging from the metro it was already quite a sight... The silvery cloth had already been draped and for the most part already closed, except for some corners and details and fiddly bits... Much like the situation that Jef encountered in Berlin. ( a bit earlier, with some banners still being let down the façade...) The light too was similar, it had just rained and the sky was lightening up but had a similar hue and intensity as the drapery, making for a ghostly and sometimes difficult to discern silhouette... Again much like Jef had encountered in Berlin...


I found it was not that easy to get good shots but the visuals were intriguing, and by doing it myself could understand more fully the reasons for the slowness of Jef's video... The work of Christo sort of forced one to slow down... I was watching one person filming the activities through the reflection in a puddle left behind from the rain... Many passers-by, on foot motorcycle or car would pull over to take some pictures... Some viewers were obviously there specifically for the theatre being presented, and there were even some ushers provided... They were wearing plastic capes and could easily be included in the wrapping process...



Just as with Jef's video the workers were installing the drapes by means of absailing and cranes, ropes and dangling bits here and there making for an interesting variation in activities, while I myself changed position, going around the Etoile section by section, and so having a complete 360 degree roundabout view, with a shot from the middle of the Champs d!Elysees as anchorpoint. The sun came out for a bit, enhancing the contrast and making the piece nearly luminous... I decided to return in the afternoon if there was a chance of direct and low sunlight, which I imagine would be quite spectacular.


The lanterns were also a feature which I found important... Jef concentrated quite a few of his shots and still photographs on the Lanterns surrounding the Reichstag, and here too there were lanterns perfectly placed to be incorporated in the shots. There were old style and more modern lanterns, as well as broken and damaged ones which all had a useful function in the process of recording the situation.


( so perhaps I will use one of these images for a copycat Lanterne de Lantin, being Bombyx Mori, as homage and information carrier... See if I might still have a Reichstag LdL somewhere... Preferably an original sent from Berlin)



Of course used the opportunity to enjoy Paris, given that the rain had stopped and there was intermittent cloud, some rays of sun... Very agreeable weather to do some rambling around, lunching on quiche in a park in the Marée, visiting the construction site of poor Notre Dame, a sorry affair... And a visit to the newly refurbished Samaritaine... Gleaming but not what it used to be... At the Palais de Justice large security force, streets blocked for the terror trial: the perpetrators of the Bataclan massacre... Noticed in the subway older men just standing in the corridors holding up one finger... 'There is but one...' - Taliban grandfathers admonishing modernised Muslims to revert to archaic teaching... I fear France has not seen the back of Islamic radicalism just yet, perhaps it's only the beginning, seen as how the historic centre is surrounded by banlieues...


Dark clouds accompanied our train as it slid out of the Gare du Nord in the evening, but it had been a bright and agreeable day, and I was glad that I decided to go through with the undertaking, being just in time before the negligée was buttoned up completely... Now the official presentation can commence, and we will see if the 'desnudance' might be worth another trip...



donderdag 26 augustus 2021

Young Years

 Gruzemayer is assisting in a retrospective / archive project in far-flung west flanders fields & towns...

 

Research project Jef Lambrecht 'Young Years 1948 -1967'

 





On September 11th 2021 it will be five years since journalist, writer & artist Jef Lambrecht left us, and members of'Samarkand vzw' thought it a fitting moment to revisit his life & work by presenting some archival material in his home town Avelgem, with specific attention to his 'early years'. Sadly there is very little material left from the early years, but by reconstruction and (local) memories quite a few references can be made to important elements in his later artistic oeuvre... Together with family-archive, friends, and some later works an attempt to sketch an impression of those early years and the lasting influence on his artistic career, as well as his extensive travels and journalism. His love for history and cultural diversity stems from an early wish to surpass the boundaries of the local landscape, but is also deeply rooted in it.

 

Aside from the presentation of a workbook, investigative presentations are planned – in the former cinema 'Rubens' across from the old school, now 'Tanghe Interiors' and the cultural community center 'Spikkerelle' are anchorpoints for ambulatory investigations around the town... Collected material will then be added to the general archives.

This is to be a first edition of a series of investigations into the backgrounds of the artist, basic chronological sections to provide an introduction to a more general 'catalogue raisonnee' in future. The next section being considered is 'student years, marriage & young family' from 1968 to 1978.

 

from september 11th to October 24th 2021

Spikkerelle community center and Tanghe Interiors, Kasteelstraat 8

Saturdays research-sessions at Tanghe Interiors only (11 – 17pm)

 


otherwise opening hours as per website, the work at Spikkerelle can also be seen from the outside