Kempens Informatieboek SMAK

Posted in SMAK, Uncategorized by gvd on April 7, 2015

Letter: to Jef Geys

It is rare to be able to express one’s admiration in the art world. Admiration is something for art lovers, or for someone who has achieved something extraordinary in the course of his life. In fact the art world does not countenance admiration; it is more concerned with how knowledge or a lack of it is displayed in a bid to show off or perpetuate its own position. Curators and museum directors are particularly guilty of this. Artists much less so, although… The territory of art and the alleged global art market visibly require a language that is mystical and misty. It seems that an indecipherable language serves as a convenient anchor to sustain a myth (lie). My admiration for you has partly to do with the consistency and clarity with which you embrace art and everyday reality in form and language. I still remember our discussion in Balen with Iris. Hopefully you won’t object if I quote something you said in a slightly different form: “There is enough mist already, it is time we allowed it to rain more”. That statement has stayed with me. Allow it to rain more! So try and ensure that we “tell it like it is”. Perhaps 1 + 1 really is 2. I have just been leafing through a few of today’s newspapers and wondered how you filter out information for the paper coffee mats. “Iconoclasm in the caliphate. ISIS destroys historical Assyrian sculptures in Mosul museum”, I read in De Morgen. You will certainly have seen the headline yourself. When I read it in the paper this morning, I immediately thought of you in Balen. I also thought of the suggestion you once made of blowing up the Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp. Obviously the one has nothing to do with the other, but I hope you will allow me my meandering thoughts. I have always understood the suggestion you made then as a way of undermining an established order. But was it perhaps a way of doggedly looking to see how art and ordinary, everyday reality can be linked? Was it perhaps thought up to refute the pretentions – and by pretension I mean something that is held up to us – in the belief that art can reside in a different way in the nerves of reality? I could call it praise for banality, but banality and ordinariness as the origin of every thought and deed, artistic or otherwise. This Kempens Informatieboek is another example of it. The expert dissection of daily news from the newspaper provides us with a no-nonsense understanding of how reality is shaped and distorted for us. Coffee and newspapers as the starting point for an artistic and informative look at reality. But to return to the museums for a moment. Besides my distinct admiration, I would also like to express my thanks, for it is inconceivable that as an artist you have allowed four museums to work together, in however a minor way, as part of your exhibition – call it a ‘springboard’. Mu.zee, M HKA, Middelheim and S.M.A.K. are visibly linked in the exhibition at S.M.A.K. by means of loans of your work from the different collections, and by means of digital information about the respective museums. Can I call the way you so directly and straightforwardly interpreted an instrument of the government (CAHF: Contemporary Art Heritage Flanders) a form of constructive criticism? Or can I simply say that you allowed it to rain?

Philippe Van Cauteren, Wetteren, February 27th 2015

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