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

Here are a few installation views of the exhibition “The Realm”, with Karolien Chromiak, Alexandra Crouwers, Aurore Dal Mas, Hadassah Emmerich, Kai Franz, Pieterjan Ginckels, Branca Lina Urta and Marleen Sleeuwits, which I curated for Observatorium/ Meatpack in Antwerp. The show will run until 17 August so it is still possible to pay a visit. All photos courtesy of Lotte Veuchelen except the one of Karolien Chromiak’s work, which is courtesy of Karolien Chromiak.
Read more about the exhibition and its concept here.

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

With:
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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoDU-T8HsvM
Accapella: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7m1u9-Cq3I

 

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).

Recent writings – late 2017, early 2018

I have always admired the way documentary filmmaker Adam Curtis dissected global issues and presented them in a new narrative to a larger audience via the BBC, like he did with his series “Century of the Self” and his latest film “HyperNormalisation”. Moreover, he has an excellent taste in music. So I was extremely pleased to be able to interview him extensively when he visited The Netherlands for Utrecht’s Impakt Festival. The result of that conversation has been published in Gonzo (circus) Magazine #143 (in Dutch).
For the online version of the same publication I recently wrote a long text, based on an interview, about Belgian artist Elke Andreas Boon, who currently has an impressive solo show at the Annie Gentils Gallery in Antwerp (B). You can find the piece here in Dutch, but the gallery is having it translated at this moment.
In September 2017, I was given the opportunity by the Flemish Art Institute to visit Marocco with the cultural exchange programme “Marocco Intersections“, together with several other art professionals from Belgium. It turned out to be a very interesting and truly informative experience.  We all wrote a report and mine was focused on the ubiquitous image of the Laughing Cow cheese brand, which you can read here.
Lastly, I am an avid fan of the work of Irish artist Elizabeth Magill so I was very honoured to be asked to write a text for the catalogue that accompanies her traveling solo exhibition “Headland”, initiated by the Limerick City Gallery of Art. You can order it from the gallery  and it is beautifully designed by David Caines Limited.

 

“Betwixt and Between”, 6 May – 4 June, Fotomuseum Antwerp (BE): installation views.

Below you’ll find some installation views of the exhibition “Betwixt and Between”, with Nadine Hattom (IRQ/AUS), Ana Janeiro (POR), Maha Maamoun (EGY), Valentina Stellino (BE) and Malika Sqalli (MOR/AUT), which I curated for the “Braakland” project of Fotomuseum Antwerpen (BE) and which took place from 6 May to 4 Juni 2017 (read more here).

New exhibition: “Betwixt and Between”, 6 May – 4 June, Fotomuseum Antwerp (BE).

With:
Nadine Hattom (IRQ/AUS)

Ana Janeiro (POR)
Maha Maamoun (EGY)
Valentina Stellino (BEL)
Malika Sqalli (MOR/AUT)

A middle ground between different places, different cultures and different identities,
An intermediary position to observe, to wonder, to record, to receive and to make sense from diverse sides,
A sphere in-between real-life and the world of art,
A transitional field between photography and other art media,
A meeting place for open-ended stories of potential and hope.

6 May 2017 – 4 June 2017
Opening Sat. 6 May, 17:00
Fotomuseum Antwerp, in the framework of the Braakland project

“Betwixt and Between” features work by five photographers who address voluntary or involuntary displacement and the effects it generates on one’s identity; artists whose work derives from the notion of finding one’s place in a new context. While culminating different cultural influences, they find themselves in a middle ground, in-between new and former cultures. Although the development of a feeling of belonging is more oft than not difficult and a seemingly never-ending process, other, more positive sensitivities are at play here as well, such as wonderment, enthusiasm about evident potential, deep introspection, hope or pure joy.
All too often, the very complex emotional assemblage that the struggle for fitting in a new environment constitutes, is being shown through photography from a perspective of docudrama. Indeed, there is a lot of activist potential of photojournalism, reportages or documentary series concerning the issue; yet this project consciously aims for different styles of photography, rather with a strong conceptual basis wherein a layered, more personal, sensitive and open-ended reading is possible.
The selected artists share an inclination to photography as their preferred medium due to the distance a camera creates to the subject. This allows for observation and drawing closer to it, thus endowing it with an auxiliary social use. However, in each of their practices, photography is only a means to convey artistic ideas and all of them have expanded their body of work well beyond the limits of it.
Furthermore, it is noteworthy that family is an aspect that is frequently covered, as migration often involves entire families and as within the family context, issues such as the role of traditions, diverging assimilation processes and the collective awareness of being other, become pertinently clear.
Another significant common feature is the use of multi-layered, narrative structures. It lays bare the fact that migration cannot be framed in simplistic slogans. This relates poignantly to the main ambition of this exhibition: to show more complex and even positive artistic perspectives on the theme that were born out of the medium of photography.


Nadine Hattom

Nadine Hattom, “Amman Pasha Hotel”, 2017.

Since the earliest stages of her career, Nadine Hattom (b. 1980, Baghdad) has set out to bridge the distance between photography and sculpture, introducing three-dimensional elements in her works or translating images into objects. Moreover, this idea of translation has become central in her practise: she engages the public to read an image analogous to reading a word so that shifts in meaning can occur. Invariably, her series resemble narrative constructions in which identity, the middle-eastern landscape and personal memories play a crucial role. Hattom comes from the Mandaean community in Iraq, a tiny, age-old religious minority. Due to the Iran-Iraq conflict, her parents moved to Abu Dhabi and later to Australia. Now, Hattom lives in Berlin. These multiple, cultural components constitute her identity and through her art, she is able to let them speak in unison. All these traits are clearly present in her new work entitled “Amman Pasha Hotel”. The installation’s primary piece is a print of a cityscape of Amman, Jordan’s capital, a shot that Hattom took randomly, and features the well-known Pasha Hotel. Its flamboyant, entrepreneurial owner is a Palestinian who once moved with his family to Australia, which obviously resonates with Hattom’s biography, and who eventually returned to the Middle East.
http://www.nadinehattom.com

Ana Janeiro

Ana Janeiro, “Album India Portuguesa 1951-1961” (detail), 2010.

Although India asserted its independence from Britain in 1947, a few regions remained under French and Portuguese rule. Portugal kept Goa, Daman and Diu on the western coast. The Portuguese presence in India dated back to the end of the fifteenth century and ended only in 1961 after two decades of tension. Artist Ana Janeiro’s grandparents migrated and lived there from 1951 to 1961. After finding photographs and letters concerning this period of her family’s history, Janeiro (b. 1978, Lisbon) matched these with the stories that she had heard numerous times at family gatherings, and assimilated her ruminations in her series “Album India Portuguesa 1951-1961” (2010). However, the work does not attempt to be conclusive history writing, rather, a retelling of a constructed narrative about her family and her country’s past. This is a constant in Janeiro’s oeuvre: taking clues from diverse historical sources and turning them in a new, open-ended narrative. In this case, shots of official documents and letters, original pictures as well as photos of re-enactments are combined. A remarkable feature of the series is the appearance of legs of doorframes that intersect the action in several images and divide the picture plane into two separate spaces. This calls to mind the notion of reframing, as well as the idea of border crossing.
http://www.anajaneiro.com

Maha Maamoun

Maha Maamoun, “Domstic Tourism (Felucca)”, 2005.

Maha Maamoun was born in California (b. 1972); however, she followed her parents back to their native country Egypt when still a child. In Cairo, she studied economics and later Middle Eastern History at the American University, where she developed a love for the photographic medium. In 2004, she cofounded the Contemporary Image Collective (CIC), a photography-centred organisation. Maamoun’s oeuvre evolved with the inclusion of film, although her core themes remain consistent. She ingeniously reveals the ways in which a national identity and national symbols are formed through popular culture. It is no surprise that she takes Egypt as a prime example; her stance as an artist and specifically as a photographer discloses a strong affinity that is clearly expressed in an aloof manner. This regularly imbues her photographs with a sharp but tender wittiness. Often, she consciously but subtly manipulates images, consigns them to particular sequences or uses rather awkward points of view to direct the viewer towards new and unexpected meanings and interpretations. “Domestic Tourism” consists of two series, which are a study into the influence of tourism and leisure on the representations of a nation’s identity. As the title indicates, the primary subject matter is Egyptians enjoying the tourism complex in their own country.
http://gypsumgallery.com/info

Valentina Stellino

Valentina Stellino, “Camping In Spain”, 2016.

Central in previous series of Valentina Stellino (b. 1992, Brasschaat) are the diaspora and lifestyle of specific family branches as well as of some of her acquaintances, which are of Italian descent. In these works, psychological tension and a perplexing ambiance are prevalent; the movements and gestures of her models seem to be frozen, which often results in scenes that resemble tableaux vivants. Indeed, Stellino asked her sitters to re-enact their own domestic rituals and mundane activities in a familiar and unmediated environment. The outcomes are more often than not poses that are neither self-assured nor completely unnatural in depictions of a time in-between actions or events. Moreover, we may well situate Stellino’s work between fiction and non-fiction; it inhabits a zone between real-life events and a reconstruction thereof. Hence, the obvious analogy with film stills; combined with the sequential nature of a series, a narrative aspect comes into play, though Stellino only provides clues for possible readings. In her new series “Cut” (2016-17), she takes this further with a collection of photographs taken all over the world, in which the notions of leaving and returning are imperative. A certain sense of melancholy and of loneliness is inherent to the ensemble’s concept.
http://valentinastellino.be

Malika Sqalli

Malika Sqalli, “Latitude 34: Chile”, 2012.

Malika Sqalli (b. 1977, Rabat) was born and raised in Morocco before moving to France in her teens, where she would study arts. She went on to live in London while also regularly returning to her native country. Furthermore, she travels extensively, attempting to tie all the different heritages in her to the cultures she visits. Through a holistic personal view on the world and driven by a propensity for optimism, she habitually detects links between places, congruencies in landscapes and weather conditions, similarities between people’s traits and behaviour, and common wisdoms. Fragments of landscapes or skylines, deserts in different parts of the world, patterns and colours as well as moods and feelings are connected in a dense network of references. For instance, for her series “Latitude 34” (2013), initiated in Santa Monica on her 34th birthday, she travelled to cities along the thirty-fourth degree of latitude, on which her birthplace Rabat lies. Aptly, motives such as lines and threads appear regularly in Sqalli’s work. However, one line always returns home. The artist’s nomadic lifestyle estranges her from the feeling of belonging, which translates in a position neither here nor there, in terms of identity as well as physically; thus, questions about the idea of home are raised prominently.
http://www.malikasqalli.com


braakland.fomu.be
www.fomu.be
https://www.facebook.com/events/645360958982023

Some recent writings.

articlesimageLately, I wrote quite a few articles about several topics. Firstly, I would like to mention a short, biographical text I did for art photographer Valentina Stellino, which you can find here. For Antwerp’s Fotografiemuseum (Fomu), I was appointed as an expert to write pieces about five selected artists for the Portfolio Days of the museum, in the framework of a project called Braakland. My contributions about Ville Anderssen, Zaza Bertrand, Hendrik Braet, Aurore Dal Mas and Dieter Daemen were written in Dutch and translated in English, and can be read here. Furthermore, I produced an extensive feature about the twentieth anniversary of UK techno label Blueprint for the online platform about dance music Pulse, including interviews with artists James Ruskin, Oliver Ho, Mark Broom and Surgeon; read it here. This summer, Antwerp’s M HKA museum put up an exhibition about rave culture; I reviewed it critically for the cultural magazine Rektoverso. This is Dutch only and is published here.

Popperola and Ampere Present: TEEN, 27 February 2016, with Pirrès (B.), Raoul Belmans (B.), Luke Solomon (UK) and Brett Johnson (US).

Untitled-2

[press text]

The ideal birthday should be a  joyous communal celebration of the fact that you’re fully alive.
But what if you were born on a day that doesn’t happen on a yearly basis, but only every four years? Well, that just means you have to party super hard – an extra 150 percent at least!

Dr. Poppers ( Tom Nys), curator and writer about dance music and contemporary art, happens to have his birthday on that notorious leap day 29 February. This year he turns forty, which in leap years means he turns ten, effectively becoming a teenager!
For this momentous occasion, Poppers teamed up with Ampere, a relatively new club in Antwerp already voted second in Red Bull Electropedia’s Music Awards for the category “Best Club”in its first year of existence . Together they plan to put on a most memorable tenth birthday party – and everybody’s invited to join the festivities.

Poppers is certainly no stranger to the Belgian party scene. He was a member of the infamous Oase de Pleasure collective in his hometown Leuven who programmed djs such as Koenie, Smos & Baby Bee, Aphrodite Terra (FR), Timmy Richardson (US), Elliot Eastwick (UK) and Keb Darge (UK). Later he organised his own Popperola parties featuring the likes of Crispin J. Glover (UK) and Stefan Goldmann (DL). All of the artists mentioned above deal in the deep and funky house which holds a special place in Poppers’ heart, and this is exactly the music that will fuel TEEN – along with that sweet house party vibe to match.

The evening will kick off with Ampère resident Pirrès, a sure bet to get the  partygoers started on the dance floor.

Next up is Raoul Belmans; a long-time friend (and neighbor) of Dr. Poppers. Raoul is also a highly respected veteran of the Belgian funky house scene with considerable international renown. He was a resident at the legendary Food club nights, label owner of the seminal house label Aroma, former dj at Belgian national radio Studio Brussel and one half of the producers duo Swirl People. This is most definitely the man to bring the party to the next level!

We should have a good vibe going by the time Londoner Luke Solomon dives in. Luke is another longtime deep house mainstay: resident at Bar Rumba in London, co-founder of Classic Music (truly a well deserved name) along with Derrick Carter. and Music For Freaks with Justin Harris. Justin and Luke also formed the core of the musical project Freaks, whose “Where Were You When The Lights Went Out” became a dancefloor hit. Recently Luke is also involved in Powerdance, a new live project featuring several interesting figures in today’s dance scene.

Last but not least we present Brett Johnson, who has his roots in the lone star state Texas but now lives in the German capital. His quirky and boompty productions were rapidly picked up by Classic Music. His own label Easoteric built up a respectable catalogue, and presently Brett has regular releases on high-profile labels such as Cynosure, Visionquest, Get PhysicalLegwork and Bang The Box (the imprint he ran with Lance De Sardi). Apart from all that, Brett is an excellent and highly skilled dj as well as an extremely lovable guy.

Club Ampere is guaranteed to be the ideal club for this stellar line-up, offering a superb sound system, great facilities and a top-notch staff. It should be clear that TEEN will make a legendary night out, as well as a birthday well celebrated!

27 February 2016; doors 23h00
Ampere, Simonsstraat 21, 2018 Antwerp (B.)
Presale tickets €12.00
www.ampere-antwerp.be
RSVP https://www.facebook.com/events/1669794879946863
All artwork by Uber and Kosher (www.uberandkosher.com)