19 – 21 May 2017
TALK TO ME IN YOUR LANGUAGE
OPENING 19 MAY 5 – 11 PM
INTRODUCTION BY DIRK DE WACHTER
EXPO: 20 – 21 MAY 1 – 6 PM
Damon Zucconi (°1985, USA), lives and works in New York
Thumbing through one of Damon Zucconi’s altered books is similar to
reading in a foreign language you once knew well, but can now only fumble
through. Zucconi wrote a computer program to regurgitate pre-existing texts,
only with each word very slightly misspelled. At first you can follow along,
seamlessly interpreting the text word by word, line by line, but when you reach
the end of the page you realise that you have no idea what’s going on. It’s a
strange dissonance that makes you doubt ever having had a grasp on the
language in the first place.
Miller, Leigh Anne. Damon Zucconi at JTT. Art In America.
Image: dictionary.red, 2016, web application, dimensions variable
Eleanor Ray (°1986, USA), lives and works in New York
As much as Ray admires Judd and, I suspect, Robert Ryman, a subtle
tonalist in his own right, she is decidedly unfussy. She isn’t preoccupied
with the object, but with translating a three-dimensional world onto a
two-dimensional surface, of finding a way to use color and composition
to give weight and weightlessness to things, which is where her love for
Morandi comes in. […] Being a late arriver — which is to say coming after
hundreds of years of great, inimitable art — doesn’t mean you have to reject
it, dismiss it, or copy it. Ray’s unironic paintings are both homages and
straightforward ways of locating herself, of making up the history (family tree)
to which she has chosen to belong. She doesn’t seem driven to overthrow
the past so much as absorb what she can of it into her own practice. In this
regard, she is fearless and open rather than egotistical and competitive.
John Yau, For The Love of Paint, 2015. Read full article
Image: Eleanor Ray, Spring Street Doorway, 2015, oil on panel, 18,41 x 20,32 cm
Brecht Koelman (°1987, BE), lives and works in Genk
I am surprised by the fact that none of the urban, political, sociological
or anthropological aspects of this garden are present in Koelman’s paintings,
and that is their great quality. His paintings are neither petty-bourgeois
representations of one’s own piece of land, mistaken for art by the sunday-
painter, nor are they the decorative concluding piece of a country-style so
popular in Flanders, that shows in its furnishing of the garden how the brick-
stone house seems to belong to the fermette-style, but, in its decorative
additions has evolved towards a rectory cottage.
Jeroen Laureyns, fragment from Artstory 10: Brecht Koelman
Image: Brecht Koelman, 2016-04-09, 2016, oil on linen, 30 x 35 cm
Katrien Claes (°1989, BE), lives and works in Hasselt
The work of Katrien Claes reacts to the form and colour aspects of
painting. The two-dimensional limits of the traditional medium are
being crossed. The paintings obtain an illusory depth, which constantly
changes through the reflection on the silver-colored parts. The question
arises how painting can be extended in a three-dimensional method
of working. Furthermore, traditional materials such as canvas and oil
paint are being left aside by the use of unconventional materials.
Image: Katrien Claes, Untitled, 2017, mixed media, 83 x 62 cm
Daan Gielis (°1988, BE) lives and works in Antwerp
Daan Gielis operates from a fundamental disappointment in which
the artist is equally guilty as critical. He uses his work as a vehicle for
understanding himself as a cluster of relationships. The works are
points of intersection of the various systems he is confronted with in
daily life, such as a rare auto-immune illness that affects him, punk,
and the institutions with which he engages. These systems, with positive
as well as negative impacts, make him ambiguous towards the
surroundings in which he lives.
Image: No one can walk out on their own story, 2017, 4K animation, endless loop
Emma van der Put (°1988, NL) lives and works in Brussels and
Perceiving in a delayed manner – this is perhaps the best way to describe
what video artist Emma van der Put does. Her video works are characterised
by delay and a particular sense of detail. Sometimes it feels as if you are
looking at a series of still images and you forget that the camera is slowly
moving further. An eye that carefully but eagerly investigates all that is
visible. A keyhole surgery.
Edwin Jacobs, director Centraal Museum Utrecht
Image: WTC, still © Emma van der Put 2016, courtesy tegenboschvanvreden,
Wim Van der Celen (°1983, BE) lives and works in Antwerp
In his recent works, Van der Celen uses reflecting paint in relation with
matt paint, his way of reminding the viewer that the work is actually being
realised in one’s mind. This aspect makes a photographic representation
of some of his works almost impossible. The flaws of perceiving and
painting are what drive the artist to construct an image. The persistent
ambiguity which seems inherent to the medium of painting is also
reflected in the titles of the works. Van der Celen plays with tautologies,
words with multiple meanings and abbreviations. Language becomes
a part of the painting.
Image: Wim Van der Celen, Tablet 1, 2017, oil on canvas, 70 x 90 cm
Radna Rumping (°1985, NL) lives and works in Amsterdam
Radna is an independent curator, programmer and radio host whose
work is embedded in music culture, communality and a critical view
towards present-day communication. She resides in – borrowing the
words of Lucy Lippard – ‘that gap between art and life where I like to
hang out’. During a recent residency at Van Eyck academy, Radna has
developed her voice in writing and recording, in researching notions
of presence and absence, and in fusing the personal with socio-
political interests – while keeping music close to her heart.
Image: Rana Rumping, Get Rid of Yourself, Again (extended version), 2017
by Jeroen Laureyns
Translated from Dutch
‘Talk To Me In Your Language’
a few notes on language, arts and politics.
Note 1: on language and politics
Apart from a small intermezzo at the end of WW II, this is the first time a Flemish Nationalist party holds the position of Mayor of the City of Antwerp. This means that, apart from a Flemish Nationalist from the VNV-party, who is not included in the official city registers, the current mayor is the first Flemish Nationalist mayor in Antwerp.
The history of the Flemish Nationalism was not only a social issue but also a language issue. Therefore it is all the more surprising that the current generation, who is in charge on a local, Flemish and federal level, has started using a foreign language as a political instrument in such a swift manner.
The mandate of the Mayor of Antwerp started with ‘The War on drugs‘. After the terrorist attacks in Brussels, the party geared up to declare ‘The Patriot Act’. Furthermore, the entire party welcomed the ‘Push-back policy’ towards refugees.
Today it seems unimaginable that a Flemish politician uses French to make political proposals, without being confronted with outrageous reactions. English, however, has become the policy language of choice.
It’s hard to predict the public reaction if the English terminology would be replaced by Dutch terminology. However, an ‘Oorlog tegen drugs’, ‘een Pattriottische Wet’ or a ‘Terugdring-beleid’ are closer to the old democratic ideal that people have the right to be governed in their own language, instead of using loanwords that mirror the hard politics of American Imperialism.
Note 2: on language and art in the past
In the history of Belgium, the struggle between Dutch and French was a central topic. The Flemish people have emancipated themselves by identifying with their language and culture and by resisting the Frenchification. French was the language of the oppressor and the upper class and, for a large part of the 20th century, it left its marks as a cultural language in the arts. In visual arts, French was used in the work of Philippe Vandenberg (1952-2009) and Thierry De Cordier (1954), not only as a first or second language they were brought up with, but also as a symbol for the idea that every Flemish person speaks French subconsciously. Thierry De Cordier is one of the few artists who, at the end of the 20th century, made lyrical representations of the Flemish landscape. His Paysages Flamands highlight the deeper human longing for a language, different from the mother tongue, to accurately express the depth of being. In the same way, Philippe Vandenberg went through an evolution from French to English as a sign of the cultural shift from one lingua franca to another. From ‘Aimer c’est flageller’ (1981-1998) to ‘Kill them all and dance’(2009). In one generation, French was replaced by English as the international colloquial language.
Note 3: on language and art today
Naturally, in visual arts, any kind of written or spoken language is not sufficient – be it English, French or Dutch. Visual artists use the image because for them language is not the instrument to shed a light on the secret of being. For the eight visual artists who are brought together by LAMART OFFSPACE and Bernaerts Museumstraat 25, English is also the international language. Therefore, as an internationally composed group of Western artists, they want to present their exhibition with an English title. A title that does not turn language issues into an authoritarian standpoint but sees it as an invitation to start the conversation in a language of choice. ‘Talk To Me In Your Language’ appears to be instantly understandable for everyone. But like the meaning of an artwork unfolds through the translation from image to language and back, for me the invitation and openness of their gesture comes to its full expression in Dutch.
‘Spreek tot mij in jouw taal’.
There isn’t anything more beautiful.
During Antwerp Art Weekend, LAMART OFFSPACE and Bernaerts Museumstraat 25 bring together eight young artists. Two Americans: Eleanor Ray (°1986) and Damon Zucconi (°1985), two artists from The Netherlands: Radna Rumping (°1983) and Emma van der Put (°1988) and four Belgians: Daan Gielis (°1988), Katrien Claes (°1989), Wim Van der Celen (°1983) and Brecht Koelman (°1987). Talk To Me In Your Language will run for three days at the Museumstraat 25, 2000 Antwerp, May 19-21, 2017.
Jeroen Laureyns, Agency for Mental Guest Labour – The Belgian Section