Perfection can be boring. I guess it came down to that. On paper it looked very enticing: the great Willem Dafoe and Mikhail Baryshnikov in a play directed by the equally great Robert Wilson, based on a piece of absurdist literature, a novella by Russian writer Daniil Charms. I sure spent a wonderful evening, at deSingel (Antwerp), watching The Old Woman, a splendid piece of theatrical machinery at work. But did it leave a lingering impression, apart from that? No.
Two wind-up boys in an absurdist tale: ‘The Old Woman’ (Willem Dafoe & Mikhail Baryshnikov, directed by Robert Wilson)Posted in theatre with tags critique, recensie, review on December 1, 2013 by Utopia Parkway
‘I’M TRYING TO TRANSLATE THE COMPLEXITY OF THE WORLD INTO A SCULPTURE’ (Berlinde De Bruyckere on beauty – The Utopia Parkway Files, part 7)Posted in art, sculpture on October 23, 2013 by Utopia Parkway
‘Consider it a birth. A birth where horror was carved into beauty, down to the bone, to become Cripplewood-Kreupelhout.’ It is the opening sentence of the catalogue accompanying Berlinde De Bruyckere‘s exhibition for the Belgian pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Not that we really needed an extra argument to interview the Belgian artist about beauty. There is no mistaking that it has played a major role throughout her career. ‘Beauty is much dearer to me than ugliness.’
‘When we show our new space to artists, they can hardly wait to begin working here’, says artistic director Mihnea Mircan. I can imagine. Open the doors of Extra City Kunsthal (Antwerp) and you will not know what to look at first: the exhibition space or the works on display. Extra City is a platform for the production, presentation and debate of artistic practices, founded in 2004, and it has recently moved to a new location: a former industrial laundry in Berchem. They stripped the building and now its ready to welcome four exhibitions a year. Next up are French artist Jean Luc Moulène and Belgian artist Koenraad Dedobbeleer, but the opening exhibition (through November 17) is devoted to the work of Belgian architect, radical urbanist thinker Luc Deleu and his T.O.P. Office, founded in 1970. Also on view: two films and an installation by Romanian duo Mona Vatamanu & Florin Tudor and The Forgotten space, a film by Allan Sekula & Noël Burch. If in Antwerp: vaut le détour.
Sometimes I am at a loss. I don’t know what to make of what I see. Take Danh Vo, for instance, currently with two shows in Brussels, one at Xavier Hufkens (‘New Sculptures’, through October 26) and one at Etablissement d’En Face (‘Dirty dancing’, through October 20). I know he’s a well-respected and hip young artist – selected for the official exhibition at the Venice Biennale – and just that fact makes these two shows must-see’s. But having visited the exhibitions, and having taken in all the necessary info, I still am at a loss.
Who is she, and why is she making such a big deal of this? I’m sure some people will have thought, two years ago, when a Belgian choreographer called Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker tried to convince everybody outside the world of contemporary dance that it was not fair, the way world-famous pop star Beyoncé had stolen part of her classic piece Rosas Danst Rosas (1983) in the video for Countdown.
In a smart way De Keersmaeker has recently made it clear just how influential her piece is, and that the influence surpasses the world of contemporary dance. Not by saying: this is mine, don’t touch it, but by saying: here it is, just take it. By now some 250 films have been sent in from all over the world based on instruction clips De Keersmaeker had put online in June. They have been compiled into a short (and a longer) You Tube-clip, that has already caught the attention of the New York Times and The Guardian. Yesterday evening, De Keersmaeker herself was one of four dancers performing in a rerun of Rosas Danst Rosas at Kaaitheater (Brussels). As an encore (photo), some 20 young girls from a high school in Brussels performed their version (among them: De Keersmaeker’s daughter). Whatever Beyoncé might have taken, De Keersmaeker has taken it back. And the story continues: you can still upload your clip.
Spotted in a Brussels garden: part of a prizewinning Icelandic building (Olafur Eliasson’s ‘Crystal growth’)Posted in art, sculpture on October 9, 2013 by Utopia Parkway
For those of you going for a jog or a stroll around the idyllic lakes of Ixelles (Brussels) once in a while, allow me to draw your attention to a sculpture that has just been installed in one of the gardens near the lakes. The three steel elements placed on top of each other are actually by Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson. He used the same elements for the impressive Harpa concert hall in Reykjavik (designed in collaboration with Henning Larsen Architects). That hall was awarded the prestigious Mies van der Rohe Award in April (interesting detail: the concert hall beat the controversial market hall in Ghent, by Robbrecht and Daem & Marie-José Van Hee). Crystal growth 3 is part of a small exhibition with works by Eliasson at the new offices of MC Gennart. According to the contemporary art consultant, representing Tony Cragg, Giuseppe Penone and Susan Hefuna, this is the first show by Eliasson in Belgium. To be visited by appointment only, through November 16. Pics of the Harpa hall and some of the works in the show after the jump.
Pottery and couscous: sculpture communism according to Jan De Cock (‘Everything for you, Otegem’, Deweer Gallery)Posted in art, sculpture on October 7, 2013 by Utopia Parkway
Controversial? That’s the least you can say. He might have been the first (living) Belgian artist with a solo show at MoMA (NY), but that doesn’t mean Jan De Cock is revered by everyone. It’s always fun to hear him talk about his art, but I find it difficult to fully grasp his work. There’s always an aspect of the artist as a con man, I think, to what he is doing. A feeling I couldn’t shed as I was standing in Deweer Gallery‘s big exhibition space, in that small Flemish village of Otegem, looking at dozens of sculptures (Nature Mortes); as an exercise in endlessly re-arranging the same elements (couscous, fake jewellery, party garlands…). Everything for you, Otegem (through Dec. 8) is the second part of a series of exhibitions. As he did in Mexico for the first part, De Cock plans to take some of his sculptures (‘gifts’) to socially relevant places in Flanders, photograph them, and redistribute those pictures. Sculpture communism, as he likes to call it. But so far, nothing has come of that. In the 2nd room at Deweer De Cock has placed four big sculptural installations. If you ask me, a somewhat easy and rather unsuccessful attempt at ‘filling’ that vast space.