New exhibition: “The Realm”, 25 May – 17 August, Observatorium/ Meatpack Antwerp (BE).

Karolien Chromiak [BE]
Alexandra Crouwers [NL]
Aurore Dal Mas [BE]
Hadassah Emmerich [NL]
Kai Franz [DL]
Pieterjan Ginckels [BE]
Branca Lina Urta [BE]
Marleen Sleeuwits [NL]

C’HANTAL, “The Realm” [Powertraxx Records, 1990]
Love In D Minor Mix:


Something for your mind,
Your body,
And your soul,
It’s the power to arouse curiosity,
The purpose,
The goal which one acts on,
A journey of force,
Hot like the sun
And wet like the rain,
Rhythmatic movements in unison with others
Prolong an act of sensation with no limits or boundaries.
Eternity is past,
Wrong is right.
It’s the point of greatest intensity,
Pleasures of the highest sense,
Feelings of warmth and security,
Willing and unwilling sensations of the mind.
A condition,
The ultimate seduction…
The Realm.


Although house music is mostly associated with instrumental tracks and sets based on beats and electronic sounds, vocals feature plenty in the genre. At first, lyrics from disco songs were sampled or emanated; later simple, repetitive and short lines were uttered on top of the boomps and bleeps while rap and hip hop vocals were introduced as well. New lyrics were written for a lot of tracks too and some of these became classic, specifically because of the vocals. Not only do the words resonate with the music, they also enhance the feelings conveyed by it. Moreover, over time, they were often isolated from their original, or sometimes an a cappella version exists, and as such they were, and still are, being used as intros, as intermezzo or on top of the music in dj sets. The crowd knows them, playbacks them, whispers them along, sings them, shouts them.

“The Realm” by C’hantal, made in 1990, is such a track. Its long-familiar lyrics consist of a descriptive list of features of what is called the Realm, powerfully pronounced by a female voice. Still, however expressive the account of this particular concept may be, its exact definition remains obscure; hermetic even. A teleological sense is clearly articulated and inward feelings are prominently present throughout the text. One can easily establish a parallel with the experience someone can have when engaging in electronic dance music in an optimal environment.

The exhibition “The Realm” would like to propose an alternative, analogous model and will translate, in a kind of phenomenological exercise, the lyrics of the eponymous dance track in an exhibition format. It will be one of numerous possibilities of how a grouping of works of art might generate the same intensities, arouses the same set of feelings and follows an identical semantic path.

Onward to the Realm.

About the artists:

Light defines our sense of sight, a seemingly simple statement that is at the core of Karolien Chromiak’s oeuvre. Working mostly with light sensitive media such as photography and video, she creates sculptures and installations bordering to abstraction and playing with our perception of the materiality of objects. Coincidentally, she also has an interest in techno music in dance. For “The Realm”, she will produce a new installation.

Unmistakably, a hint of gothic romanticism features in the work of Alexandra Crouwers. Using classic media such as collage and drawing as well as modern technologies like 3D animation, video and computer graphics, it addresses themes that involve the uncanny, mythology, landscape, the animal world, science fiction and weird movies, most often in a (quasi-)narrative structure.

The art of Aurore Dal Mas, be it her photographs, installations or sound-based works, is all about the evocation of atmospheres, leaving open any interpretation to the viewer. Certainly, there is a predilection for weariness and the feeling of being hurt, for the aestheticism of what is scarred or lost and for the splendor of the wounded soul. Dal Mas navigates masterly between the standard definitions of beauty and sensuousness on the one hand and repulsiveness and the abject on the other.

A pop sensibility permeates the paintings, drawings and prints of Hadassah Emmerich, who integrates sources such as pieces of advertisements, magazine photos, texts and floral motifs into swirling, abstract arrays of colors. Moreover, her mixed origins have defined several of her series: traces of painterly traditions from the west as well as the east are combined in a peculiar manner. In her work, hues can be awkwardly flashy, sensual or subdued, but a radiant gloss invariably covers the pictorial surface.

Kai Franz has always been interested in computational systems and algorithms, which eventually led him to create works of art together with, rather than through machines and computers. The “plopper” device he developed is akin to plotters and 3D-printers, although it is not only dictated by the software used, but by the material and physical properties of the work it finally generates as well. Because of the ‘poor’ materials they consist of, these abstract and rhythmical sculptures have a retrofuturistic feel to them. In this exhibition, Franz will present some newly made examples.

Pieterjan Ginckels’ multifarious work is informed by architecture, popular traditions, social media culture, music and sociological discourses. He is a true master of redundancy: each of his projects consists of numerous media such as sculpture, installation, print and performance, which he blends into a dazzling abundance of topics and references. Here, an older video piece called “Stroboscope” (2008) will be mixed in a spatial arrangement with his recent NO BULL energy drinks, which are part of a larger narrative dealing with far-fledging commercialization and branding.

Branca Lina Urta studied architecture but took a different turn in life to become one of Belgium’s most-known house music djs during the 1990s as one part of the duo Smos & Baby Bee. However, during these exhaustive years in the international nightlife, she took up photography, which she gradually developed into an important facet of her artistic life. Her former studies are a main source of inspiration: parts of buildings, structural compositions and textures of objects feature abundantly, with a keen awareness of rhythm.

Dutch artist Marleen Sleeuwits is interested in our perception of space; in her earlier work, she digitally manipulated specific places she photographed in such a way that all actual references to their where and when were vanished. Nowadays, she carefully constructs spaces with different kinds of elements and records these structures. By doing so, she creates evocative images as well as installations called “Interiors”, which are devoid of links to the real world or to an actual time. They are spaces on which a viewer can easily project his or her own individual state of mind.

Opening: 25 May 2018 (during Antwerp Art Weekend)
Observatorium/ Meatpack, Samberstraat 40, 2060 Antwerp (BE).


One thought on “New exhibition: “The Realm”, 25 May – 17 August, Observatorium/ Meatpack Antwerp (BE).

  1. Pingback: “The Realm”, 25 May – 17 August, Observatorium/ Meatpack Antwerp (BE): installation views. | Popperola

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