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20 Jan 2011

Argos Centre for Art and Media presents Hans Op de Beeck and Shelly Silver

Hans Op de Beeck - Sea of Tranquillity (2010)
Full HD video, colour, sound (16:9 aspect ratio)
Courtesy Galleria Continua, San Gimignano – Beijing – Le Moulin; Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna; Xavier Hufkens, Brussels; Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York; Galerie Ron Mandos, Rotterdam – Amsterdam.

Hans Op de Beeck - Sea of Tranquillity
Shelly Silver - Here, his 這裡, 他的
Down Low Up High - Performing the Vernacular
Argos Centre for Art and Media


Sat 22 January 2011 - 18.00 - 21.00 Exhibitions on view:
25.01.2011 – 02.04.2011


+32 / 2 / 229 00 03
+32 / 2 / 223 73 31

Argos Centre for Art and Media
Werfstraat 13 rue du Chantier
1000 Brussels

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The work of Hans Op de Beeck (1969) includes sculptures, installations, videos, animated films, photography, drawings, paintings, music, sound and words. His work is a reflection on the human condition; our difficult relationship with time, space and each other in a contemporary environment. The result is undeniably fictional, constructed and staged: it is up to the viewer to accept the image as a sort of parallel reality, or to put it into perspective as no more than a visual construction. During a short residence at Saint-Nazaire in France in 2008, the artist became intrigued by the remarkable Second World War story and post-war reconstruction of this harbour town, whose shipyards produce the world's largest cruise liners. It seemed to Op de Beeck that the Queen Mary 2, then just completed, was, like the Burj Khalifa in Dubai (the highest building in the world), a suitable metaphor for our belief in spurious values and in such concepts as work, leisure time and luxury consumerism. We nowadays use such categories as 'the highest', 'the first' and 'the biggest', but what do these terms say about the actual quality of things? The exhibition is conceived as an all-embracing installation; an evocation of a small, historical-looking museum which we seem to be entering after closing time and which appears to be devoted to a (fictional) mythical cruise liner, the Sea of Tranquillity. The spatial installation does not provide any explanation in words, only images: a sizeable scale model of the ship, sculptures of the captain and a maid, large display cases, an evocation of a sleeping container site at night and a series of black and white watercolours. The main focus is a medium-length film, a combination of acting and digitally generated 3D environments in which the viewer makes a night-time visit to the mysterious ship.

Sea of Tranquillity is a co-production between Hans Op de Beeck, Le Grand Café - Centre d'Art Contemporain (Saint-Nazaire, France), ARGOS - Centre for Art & Media (Brussels, Belgium), Kunstmuseum Thun (Thun, Switzerland), CAB - Centre de Arte Caja de Burgos (Burgos, Spain), Le Fresnoy - Studio National des Arts Contemporains (Tourcoing, France).


The work of Shelly Silver (1957) bridges the contested territories between public and private, narrative and documentary, and increasingly in recent years, the watcher and the watched. For her new installation here, his 這裡, 他的 she centres on the place where she's been living for the last 24 years, Chinatown, NYC, a small insular neighbourhood slapped by history – wars, revolutions, pacts between nations, slumlords, discrimination. Her fictional protagonist/ cohort in this enterprise is a man who has recently returned to Chinatown, a place that he fled from as soon as he possibly could, to take care of his ailing mother. The man is a filmmaker, and as he waits for the inevitable, he fills this time, the impossible void of waiting for someone to die, with watching, with filming. Watching, for him, is a surprisingly active pursuit. As he watches he remembers and rebuilds, permutating a history he felt damaged by, a world he felt pushed from. Waiting shapes and twists time. It is possible to see things – impossible things. We become intimate with this man, or at least that is what he wants. To seduce – to draw us near. We will wait with him. He uses 'the present' of his images to manipulate past and future. He must not only change it for himself, he must change it for us. He is a ruse (he tells us so). A ruse to keep us here with him, watching. Watching what he watches.
Silver constructs an abstract waiting room, encompassing both external and internal space. The film is envisioned spatially, inviting/ coercing the viewer to enter into an approximation of his space. The viewer navigates in the minutes, hours, seasons and place of this man's waiting, embodying his relationship to death, desire, history, voyeurism, power, pleasure and life.

Voiceover: Lu Yu 鹿瑜 Assistant Editor: Cassandra Guan 关? Thanks to:  Museum of Chinese in America, Karen Chien, Timothy Bell.


In the same period, Argos Black Box presents a series of performances and choreographies on video and film that explore notions of movement, space and time within the urban make shift environment of New York City during the early 1970s. The compiled works in Down Low Up High offer a visual and performative exploration of urban space as a physically charged field of investigation. The protagonists of these works – from the dancer to the performer, from the camera to the city, from the passerby to the sparse audience – physically appropriate the public terrain of their daily surroundings through their presence as well as actions. The decision to leave the artist studio and go out on the street stood for an emancipatory and political consciousness that informed artistic production at the time and reflected the city politics that allowed cultural producers to conquer public space. Despite the few who were there to see these actions at the time, these performances, videos and films by film makers and cinematographers such as Babette Mangolte, Bob Parent, Robert Fiori and Bill Rowley are now part of a greater canon that defines the collective memory of New York City at the time.
Manhattan was a field of experimentation, a over- as well as non-occupied space that could be reclaimed for the public desire to express everyday actions as well as democratic rights. Down Low Up High presents Trisha Brown´s iconic choreographies from 1970 (Leaning Duets and Man Walking Down the Side of a Building), Joan Jonas´ performative exploration of space, movement, and sound in her video Songdelay, Babette Mangolte´s film Calico Mingling on a choreography by Lucinda Childs, Bob Parent´s film Transformations on a SoHo Street with a performance by Ruth Heller Coron and Elaine Summer´s Two Girls Downtown Iowa, were all four made in 1973, as well as James Nares minimalist and physically experimental video performance Roof from 1975.
Curated by Barbara Clausen who will lecture on the program March 2 at 19.00 (in Kaaistudio's, please check the website for details).