netwerk: Michael Van den Abeele & Arnaud Hendrickx / Dolores Bouckaert & Griet Dobbels
Michael Van den Abeele, without title, part of the series Circus Maximus, 2006
Michael Van den Abeele & Arnaud Hendrickx Bonus Malus / Dolores Bouckaert & Griet Dobbels Mind the Gap
Michael Van den Abeele & Arnaud Hendrickx
However violent and dystopian these worlds may be, there remains a romanticising of childhood as a golden age of libidinous urges, uncontrolled by a superego. (Katy Siegel about Carroll Dunham, in Artforum in February 2000)
Michael Van den Abeele is as versatile as he is productive. His drawings, gouaches, oil paintings, sculptures and animation loops are full of absurdism and plastic inventiveness. In his most recent work characters appear with rambling names and motives, 'the bright man,' 'the spray tube of Eindhoven', 'Smiley Smile', 'Legoman', etc. Sometimes they are rickety and explosive, sometimes translucent and anti-human, but always endowed with indestructible phlegm of artificial bliss. One by one they have emerged from Circus Maximus, a small collection of 54 sketches. This collection is a manic succession of distorted constructivist compositions, pushed in overdrive by libidinous impulses.
In Bonus Malus, the exhibition that Van den Abeele designed with architect Arnaud Hendrickx, these impulses gain further momentum. The most striking result of this collaboration is a building that serves as a Neolithic pavilion: an anachronistic Fremdkörper constructed from German quick building blocks, it stands as a zone-free creation the middle of the exhibition space.
Despite its brutal intent Bonus Malus cannot be characterized as one-dimensional. Van den Abeele's paintings and sculptures entail a rather deceptively light-hearted element. The shapes vary continuously between flatness and volume, as a precursor to a world where humanity no longer constitutes the norm. Together with Hendrickx, he imagines an arena where the bonus-malus system develops into an ontological spectacle, driven by an elusive social-Darwinian capriciousness. Thumbs up or thumbs down; that is the question: whatever the precise outcome may be, it currently remains in the middle.
Dolores Bouckaert & Griet Dobbels
Mind the Gap
With Mind the Gap, we want to make a no-man's land tangible, specifically the border area where one extreme touches another. We are fascinated by transitional moments, transformations: the overturning, falling or folding from one state to another. We search for the places where these moments occur, also within ourselves: there is often a very special beauty to be found ... (Griet Dobbels and Dolores Bouckaert, October 2009)
Dolores Bouckaert, primarily active as a theater-maker, and Griet Dobbels, known for her visual work, worked together for the first time in the spring of 2007, when Griet Dobbels created The Eatable Book. This book was presented in the form of a detailed set of graphical texts set upon a one-metre long role of edible paper. Dolores Bouckaert contributed as author to one of the chapters, along with a philosopher, a theologian, a writer, an art historian, an artist, a psychiatrist, a cook and an art collector. (MDD, Picture This, in February-March 2007)
This process of exchange was the basis for Mind the Gap, a recent project where both artists serve as a duo, approaching the work from opposite angles in order to form a new common language. In this way confrontation is sought out rather than avoided. Borders are selected and crossed, starting from the one question: 'What enables the transformation of one extreme into another – or to stay the same?' The project is about daring (or not) and trying (or not): there is always the fear of audit to hand, or to the crossing point where meanings are lost.
With a certain obviousness Mind the Gap encompasses different disciplines and territories. In Netwerk a two-fold exhibition will be shown, that will activate different media and techniques. The presentation ends with a video performance, in which the artists question the manipulative and performative aspects of language and rhetoric, in order to continue to zoom in upon subcutaneous meanings. What does the performer keep hidden amid his convincing arguments?