photo credits Kristien Daem

A Double Look

On systematics and time space experience

 

In the spring of 2013, I had the opportunity to curate an exhibition in a local art space. A place with national prominence called Herman Teirlinckhuis, situated in the village of Beersel, close to Brussels. I curated the exhibition starting from the idea of revisiting  one or more aspects of the work made by artists from my peer group. The idea of looking back at my older works and filming them to introduce the aspect of time, was my inspiration for this exhibition concept.. I was interested in highlighting systematic actions (acting and re-acting) and doing so in a time and space experience that involved the works of my peers. I believed that a double look might reveal specific visual formal qualities that might otherwise remain undetected. I chose each of the seven artists because of particular sculptural qualities present in their work that have to do with systematics and with time-space experience. 

 

The following artists participated in the exhibition: Bernd Lohaus (DE), Valerie Mannaerts, Kasper Andreasson (DK) Jan Kempenaers, Kristien Daem, Aglaia Konrad (A), Ria Pacquée, Koenraad Dedobbeleer. During the preparatory talks with the artists and the heirs of Bernd Lohaus, it struck me that they all could appreciate the method of the double look. I had the feeling they were interested in showing work on the basis of a purely visual and associative experience, which had an inspiring effect on me and the group. 

The show comprised about 35 works utilising different media, as well as several videos and books. All the works were mixed among each other and spread out over the different rooms such that the exhibition was read as a visual experience. The different works of the different artists seemed to reflect each other. The idea of the double look was not to present the work in didactic terms, but to open up and create visual and auditive associations related to systematic repetitive actions and specific time-space experiences.

 

On the practices of the the participating artists and their contributions

In the body of work by the German artist Bernd Lohaus (1940-2010), one can observe – in addition to his sculptures, installations and collages – a systematic approach to his drawings and gouache paintings of flowers. Seeing the immediacy of the process involved in making his flower paintings, one can understand his big wooden sculptures as the outcome of a similarly direct sculptural act.

 

In preparing for the exhibition, I had a conversation with Valerie Mannaerts regarding her drawings as some of them summarized different formal and spatial aspects of her previous exhibitions. Some of her drawings are used as images for the covers of her books, for posters and invitation cards. They are representations of her exhibitions, but often the scale, perspective and materiality of things are changed. We agreed to show a few real sculptures and some drawings, to highlight the representational aspects in the drawings compared to the real scale of the sculptures.

 

The Danish artist Kasper Andreasson is fascinated by old maps and makes graphic work with different printing techniques. His prints are made with the patience of a monk, with a persistent and systematic approach. For several years now he has collected tickets, printing try-outs, sketches, letters and so on, and each year he binds these documents in a big book. A similar systematic approach is also present in the way he reworks motifs from old maps in his prints.

 

In 2012, the Austrian artist Aglaia Konrad made a series of photos, a book and a small video of the Carrara marble caves in Italy. It was my intention to show how she represents the experience of the enormous scale of the site in three different ways.

 

The photographer Jan Kempenaares always looks at the landscape from a specific position. He showed an edition of a series of views on the particular material qualities of a small island in Ireland. He also showed two abstract silkscreen prints with dynamic circling movements. The photos and the prints seemed to pave the way for each other. 

 

I saw an exhibition of some large prints and a publication of some photos by Kristien Daem that she made of the empty rooms of a big apartment block. I became fascinated by the fact that she focuses so much on the materiality of things, while, at the same, her photos possess a strong graphical quality.

 

A sense of timing typifies the work of Ria Pacque. In her video work, she connects time and space and visualises a certain tension with the use of rhythm. I’m also interested in her fascination with objects and in the systematic way she collects, registers and exhibits objects.

 

The way Koenraad Dedobbeleer, some years ago, photographed all the self-made things in my house and made a publication out of it, proves his interest in the motivations of sculpture. We made a small table and two stools to go with the publication, based on the forms of my tracing drawings.

 

Dedobbeleer also repositioned the display cabinets in the Herman Teirlinckhuis for the the exhibition. A small publication shows this temporary repositioning alongside photos of the permanent arrangement.

 

One of the contributions I made to the show was a video in which I demonstrate formal and sound qualities of an older work from 1993 called Chair (brown lacquered). It’s an ordinary chair that has been cut up with a bandsaw into small blocks. The video consists of the repetition of the act of me placing a hand full of blocks on a plinth. The sound of the little falling blocks spread throughout the rooms.

 

Finally, I asked the Dutch artist Willem Oorebeek to write an introduction text to the exhibition. Within the idea of the double look in mind, he proposed a double reading of the introduction. First by me, and then by him.