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02 Oct 2009

Robert Gober, Juliao Sarmento & Luc Tuymans at MDD (Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens)

© Photo: Jasmina Fekovic

Absence is the Highest Form of Presence: Robert Gober, Julião Sarmento & Luc Tuymans


opening: 04.10.2009 at 11am

04.10 - 29.11.2009

tuesday-sunday: 10am - 5 pm
monday: closed


Museumlaan 14
BE-9831 Deurle

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The ambitious exhibition project Absence is the highest Form of Presence brings together works by three long-established and internationally well-renowned artists: Robert Gober, Julião Sarmento, and Luc Tuymans. It is the last and incomplete project of curator Michael Tarantino, who died in 2003.

In the concise concept note that Michael Tarantino wrote for the project, he indicated a number of themes which could be touched upon in the exhibition: the enigma, the invisible, the off-screen space, and the fragmented or deformed representation of the human body. It is clear that Michael Tarantino aimed to unite both his passions – film and visual art – in this project. From the very outset of the project, he intended the exhibition to be a kind of 'conversation piece', an intense dialogue between the oeuvre of the three artists. In this way, the spectator would be challenged into finding new perspectives for viewing and interpreting the works of the three artists.

Starting from the basic concept outlined by Michael Tarantino in 2002-2003, the artists and the museum collaborated on the actual realisation of the exhibition. Old and recent works were brought together in an exhibition that combines film, painting, and sculptural installations. An essential part of the exhibition is the publication of an unassuming text by the British art critic and curator Adrian Searle. Not only was he one of Michael Tarantino's colleagues, he was also a friend and often acted as a sounding board for Tarantino's reflections on art and exhibition concepts.

The MDD believes that the research into and contextualisation of the recent art historical past is one of its essential responsibilities as a museum. A lot of valuable information regarding recent fundamental developments in the contemporary art field is already at risk of being lost simply because it is not adequately managed or easily accessible. The realisation of Absence is the highest Form of Presence is a first step in the research project that is the intellectual legacy of Michael Tarantino. The MDD is also preparing a publication on the artistic activities of Michael Tarantino, including text and visual material on his projects, and commentary and interviews of artists and colleagues (release scheduled for Fall 2010).

Robert Gober

Robert Gober (°1954 Wallingford – lives and works in New York City) became well-known during the 1980's for his sculptures in which he recreates and transforms common everyday objects. His sculptures are always manually and meticulously crafted. These objects are connected to themes such as psychoanalysis, sexuality, religion, and politics. Robert Gober is regarded as one of the most influential living artists. This is the first time that an important collection of Robert Gober's works is shown in Belgium.

Julião Sarmento

Julião Sarmento (°1948 Lisbon – lives and works in Capa Rota / Portugal) started his artistic career under the then Portugese dictatorship. During that period he managed to stay informed on international art currents through a variety of illegal channels. His oeuvre consists of paintings, sculptures, and video installations. Reoccurring themes are desire and the mysterious, which are expressed through erotic, architectural, or literary motifs. In 2005, the Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens realised Julião Sarmento's first important individual exhibition in Belgium.

Luc Tuymans

Luc Tuymans (°1958 Mortsel – lives and works in Antwerp) adopts a filmic or photographic gaze to rework loaded topics from the recent past in his paintings. His research into the deceptive authenticity of visual material results in ambiguous and puzzling paintings. Recently, he has presented series of works on the holocaust, Belgian colonialism, or the Jesuit Order. Power and covert violence are the common thread throughout his oeuvre. Luc Tuyman's influence on contemporary painting is nothing less than momentous.

Michael Tarantino

After completing a degree in film aesthetics at the University of New York, Michael Tarantino (1948 New Jersey – 2003 Brussels) builds a career as a curator and film critic. He is one of the earliest advocates of video and film installations in contemporary art. His passion for film is the basis for a variety of exhibition projects in which he examines the relationship between film and the visual arts. In 1988 he leaves the United States and moves to Brussels. In the 1990's he collaborates with artists such as Antony Gormley, Sam Taylor-Wood, Anish Kapoor, Rachel Whiteread, Matt Mullican, and Jeff Wall, among others. He is head curator for the Oxford Museum of Modern Art from 1998 until 2001. He returns to Brussels in 2001 to take up the directorship of the still-to-be-founded Artesia Center for the Arts. This contemporary art centre, however, was never realised and Michael Tarantino dies in 2003 at the age of 55, after a long struggle with chronic disease.