Looking beyond the modernist vision of a utopian nuclear age, contemporary artists are engaging with the lived experience of radiation through nuclear objects, architectures and landscapes
Sonic Radiations. In search of a nuclear musicology is online. The compilation is pretty eclectic. Among the tracks you’ll find educational records from the 1960s, electronic sounds mixed with Nigerian afro beat grooves and other wonderfully weird sounds
It seems that humans have an inherent need for the unaccountable and the illogical. That’s why progresses in science and technology have often been accompanied by the arrival or renewal of paranormal phenomena
Artefact: The Act of Magic explores how we can understand magic and the magical in contemporary society. This inherently ambiguous concept evokes notions such as illusion, enchantment and awe, but is equally related to a deeper understanding of magical powers, the occult or supernatural, rituals and animism
The French collective RYBN.org has applied the numerological system of transformations, associations and substitutions of Kabbalah to computing. Their Dataghost 2 installation seeks to reveal the hidden messages buried within the data traffic…
An exhibition that brilliantly puts the dance party culture of the 1990s into a neat museum package
This piece of sound equipment emits low frequency infrasound waves, which causes those in its path to release the contents of their bowels—or more colloquially, to “shit themselves”. This kind of sound cannon has its roots in sonic weapons first developed by the Nazis for the purposes of crowd control, and purportedly also by the French authorities during the Paris riots of 1968
Karl Philips is a Belgian (h)activist, performance and conceptual artist who casts a critical but always witty glance at society, paying particular attention to cracks in consumerism, town planning, advertising, and turning upside-down their logic
Panamarenko, the artist and inventor who builds zeppelins, mechanical chickens, flying backpacks, flying saucers, robots, submarines and other machines designed to travel over land, under water and in outer space, is having a big and rather wonderful retrospective at the M HKA, in his home town of Antwerp
Over the past 5 years, Nick Hannes has visited twenty countries located around the Mediterranean. He witnessed an unprecedented period of turmoil for the region: southern Europe buckling under the weight of the global economic crisis, Arab countries entangled in the aftermath of the Arab Spring and tourists and migrants encountering each other on the beaches of the Mediterranean Sea
Contour 2013, the 6th Biennial of Moving Image, presents videos, installations and performances in Michelen’s prison, football stadium as well as in a church and a museum. Under the title Leisure, Discipline and Punishment, the event examines social roles and relations within society.
Koen Vanmechelen who has spent the past 20 years crossbreeding national species of chicken in order to create the ultimate ‘Cosmopolitan Chicken Project.’ You might or might not know it but each country has created its own peculiar type of chicken: the French, for example, have the Poulet the Brest. It’s white and red with blue feet, the same colours as their flag. Americans like their chicken to be big and powerful. The Chinese have a chicken covered in silky feathers
A few years ago, Z33 House for Contemporary Art invited established names and young talents to visit several sites in the region, pick up the one they’d like to work with and then submit a project that would engage with the cultural background of the area and entice passers-by to look differently at the surroundings. The result is pit – art in public space
Our society is governed by all sorts of systems and structures that organise and steer life. No system, however, whether political, judicial, economical, socio-cultural or spatial, can comprise life in its entirety. Every system has gaps, leaks and ambiguities.
The artists in the exhibition Mind the System, Find the Gap seek out these gaps. They set forth from this intermediate position to unveil, circumvent or criticise ruling systems and structures
The top floor of the crumbling art deco industrial building is filled with contemporary artworks that address de-industrialization and post-industrialization. As you can expect, many of the works come with a sense of doom similar to the one experienced by local communities when the mine closed in 1987. The artists selected for the biennial confront issues such as the dematerialisation of production, new forms of labor, the loss or transformation of social ideologies, the challenges of creating energy, counterfeit luxury goods and the parallel economy it generates, etc.
Genk is a city almost entirely devoid of any grace but it is also the site of the 9th edition of Manifesta, the European Biennial of Contemporary Art. And who needs grace and glamour when you have an exhibition as sensational as as the one that Cuauhtémoc Medina curated in a disused coal mine at the outskirt of the city?
The industrial revolution was a revolution for engineers. Now designers are at the forefront of a new revolution. They are part of networks that enable them to develop new materials and systems, build their own machines, and seek new tools for production and distribution. These developments offer an alternative to mass production and open paths to a new economy and society
Sebastian Stumpf’s photo documentation of his performances in the ‘gaps’ of Tokyo architecture. The artist is literally filling in the hiatus in the dense architectural structure of the city, squeezing himself in the overlooked spaces between the buildings. The action makes us suddenly aware of this ‘urbanism interrupted’, and calls our attention to what is in-between, behind, or beyond
I was as flattered as i was surprised when my favourite art center in Europe got in touch and asked me if i’d like to curate the catalogue of their 2011 activities. 2011 was a vintage year at Z33. They opened a show about manipulated nature, had some spectacular tape and suspended nets events, hosted a solo show of theater genius Kris Verdonck and investigated the the firm grip that fear has on contemporary society
I’ve seen Trevor Paglen’s fascinating photos in numerous contexts, from new media art festivals to activist conferences and contemporary art exhibitions. But i’m no different from most people: the more i see Paglen’s work, the more questions i want to ask him. I’ve finally decided to catch up with him and interviewed him via skype for the upcoming Z33 catalogue
Architecture of Fear explores how feelings of fear pervade daily life in the contemporary media society. The cause of fear seems interchangeable and constantly fluctuating. Shifting from one thing to the next, often relating to invisible or indirect phenomena’s (terrorism, viral diseases, pollution, financial crisis), anything has the ability to become a potential threat. Rather than an immediate emotional strategy for survival fear is becoming a constant low level feeling in the background that gives rise to a new global infrastructure based on security, prevention and risk-management
Since 2003, young photographer Charlotte Lybeer spent extended periods of time in gated communities and contemporary theme parks to document how these places neatly designed around a central theme managed to give an illusion of safety and dream lifestyle
I love Walter Van Beirendonck. He puts men on stilts, wraps them in latex, has them wear T-shirts with prints of preoperative drawings for plastic surgery, sends them on the runway with gas masks, corsets, prosthetic horns or with the face adorned with stick-on latex interpretations of Maori facial tattoos, etc. Actually, i think i adore that guy
Jurema Action Plant is a machine which interfaces a sensitive plant (Mimosa Pudica). Its aim is to empower plants by enabling them to use similar technologies as humans use. It is also explores new ways of communication and co-relation between humans, living organism and a machine. Plants don’t have nerves, wires or cables but much like humans, animals and machines, they have an electrical signal traveling inside their cells
Z33 in Hasselt, Belgium, has just opened an exhibition with a very promising title. Architecture of Fear explores how feelings of fear pervade daily life in the contemporary media society.
I’m going to visit it on Thursday but in the meantime i thought i’d ask one of the participating artists, Jill Magid, to tell us about the work she is showing at Z33 and more generally about her experience with impersonal power structures (police, intelligence agencies, security systems, etc.) which, whether they contribute to it or fight it, are part of this ‘architecture of fear.’
For Z33, design collective Numen / For Use left the gaffer tape in Vienna and Zagreb and used nets to turn the whole exhibition space into a giant playground that can be explored horizontally as well as vertically. The idea might look incredibly simple but the result evokes floating architecture and flexible “landscape” as much as jungle gym
To understand how mysterious jumping fish can survive in a puddle with trucks driving through it, Mateusz Herczka recreated a South American puddle in an unheated Belgian space. The huge cube of glass and metal contains a reconstruction of a puddle found in the middle of a road in Guyana, with a truck wheel rolling through it. His work is documented in an exhibition which recently opened in Antwerp
The work of Kris Verdonck focuses on the confusion of man in an estranged world due to technological development. The tension between man and machine, between living species and dead materials creates an atmosphere of Unheimlichkeit or eeriness. This ‘current state of the world’ – with its environmental problems, ecological disasters and wars – is the central theme through his oeuvre
To enter garden installation EXOTE, part of Kris Verdonck – EXHIBITION #1, visitors have to wear protecting clothes. They can then walks on the bark soil between plants and parrots, just like a nature explorer. The terrestrial plants, crustraceans, insects, fish, amphibians, birds and other organisms they encounter are all “Invasive Alien Species”, they thrive outside their natural distribution area and threaten biological diversity
This week, i’m having a chat with Lieven Standaert, the designer behind Aeromodeller2, a project which explores the possibility to build a 90-meter, zero-emission, airship that will never need to land to get its fuel, creating hydrogen from the elements it encounters and anchoring when it needs to replenish its energy in a renewable way. Aeromodeller2 might not be the most efficient nor the fastest airship but it leaves more space to imagination, dream and aspiration than anything Boeing can come up with
Ready-to-use Models, a work-in-progress project developed for Alter Nature: The Unnatural Animal, attempts to question the current definitions used to indicate living creatures. Does one denominate a manipulated organism as an object, product, animal or pet? What consequences does this choice of definition entail for our perceptions, feelings and behaviours regarding living creatures?
For ‘Cook Me – Black Bile’, designer Tuur Van Balen used leeches and his own blood too cook a recipe for controlling the feeling of melancholy. Synthetic biology and the new interactions it can trigger within our body are proposed as a new form of cooking, guided by one’s personal metabolism
The Documentary Real was probably the most satisfying conference i attended this year. I had planned to write down my notes from some of my favourite talks when Robrecht Vanderbeeken from KASK (the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent) informed me that the videos of the symposium were online
Cinema is more than film alone, as Almost Cinema proves every year. At this festival organized by Vooruit and the Ghent Film Festival, artists from a variety of disciplines offer the audience a different take on cinema. With performances, concerts and an exhibition with surprising installations, they dissect the ordinary cinema experience as they experiment with sound, image, light, space and movement
By cutting thousands of little pieces of polarization filter and putting a rotating polarization filter in front of them, Wim Janssen succeeds in imitating television static by using an almost banal technique
Fifty years after The Americans of Robert Frank, and practically at the same time as the reconstruction of the then pioneering exhibition “New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape”, FotoMuseum, through the exhibition American Documents, offers a comprehensive overview of the documentary trends in American photography from the 1970 until now
Allan Sekula’s portraits of seafarers, dock workers, port cities and their industrial hinterland register the affects of globalisation on people’s lives. With these works, the artist counters the myth that underpins neoliberal ideology of painless flows of goods and capital that constitute international trade
The sound exhibition ambitions to go beyond the auditory system and uses echoes, vibrations, timbres, resonances, waves to put the body of the visitor to the test
The term ‘hacking’ refers to the guerrilla-like nature of some actions on the internet and at the same time to equally clandestine ‘squatting’ in the physical public space
For Electrified02, the young artist decided to ‘hack’ the harbour of Ghent with a sound installation that turned twelve rusty, gigantic metal pipes stored there into didgeridoo-like sound cylinders