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30 Sep 2009

Destiny Without Destination? - VERSUS_V exhibition in Oudenaarde, Belgium

Destiny Without Destination?


24.09 -24.10 2009

Fri - Sun, 10:00 - 19:00

+32 (0) 479 46 10 95

Old Fire-station
Woeker 7
9700, OUDENAARDE - Belgium

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VERSUS is a contemporary art event taking place every two years in the city of Oudenaarde, a Belgian municipality in the Flemish province of East Flanders. Reputed by its cloth and tapestry industry, and its staunchest support to the Counts of Flanders throughout the Middle Ages, the city is nowadays primarily known for the celebrated Ronde van Vlaanderen voor Vrouwen, the women's Tour of Flanders cycle race, that starts every spring in Oudenaarde.

Initiated in 2001 by a local non-profit organization KunstadStroom, VERSUS has developed into Oudenaarde's unique cultural event devoted to the most actual manifestations of visual arts in Belgium and beyond. The previous editions (VERSUS I, II, III, and IV) have brought to the city the artists such as Honoré d'O, Wim Catrysse, Philippe Vandenberg, Bernd Lohaus, Jef Geys, Panamarenko, and Nick Ervinck, among many others. Each year the event also gathers numerous Belgian critics, art historians, and curators to contribute to the realization of the main program (the exhibition), its side-projects, and the publications/catalogues following up each VERSUS edition respectively.

The initiative was born out of the need to challenge the marginal position of a European city as regards the situation of artistic developments beyond its own cultural tradition. In the specific urban context of Oudenaarde, and its proximity to vivid art centers (such as Gent, Brussels, Antwerp, or even Aalst), a critical relation has been established with the modes of understanding contemporary art within the Belgian and neighbouring international circuits; such a new incentive to the city's life, devoted primarily to the visual arts of our times, has been going on for almost a decade. Without the high international visibility, it has been nonetheless constantly keeping one main goal : offering a possibility and the long-term conditions for contemporary art to start growing where it has not been cultivated in any sustainable manner before.

VERSUS has also offered the intellectual space and material infrastructure for artists' production : their vivid responses and engaging interventions have given Oudenaarde a platform for new creativity to become accepted as constitutive part of everyday life. In the conditions where the hospitality towards contemporary visual arts has yet to be established, the logic behind VERSUS lies in the open desire to establish a firm and permanent encounter between the citizens and the art of their own times, instead of letting it be a thing of its own, outside of the global circuits, or as a 'foreigner' waiting behind the closed doors. The logic of trasnforming such an encounter into a real, long-term, and hospitable relationship is the one that allows VERSUS to exist on the cultural map of Belgium and on the global agenda of biennials devoted to contemporary art.

Participants: Herman Asselberghs, Piet Bodyn, Manon De Boer, Robbrecht Desmet, Stijn Van Dorpe, Johannes Elebaut, Bart Lodewijks, Thomas Huyghe, Vincent Meessen, Nicolas Leus, Simona Denicolai & Ivo Provoost, Wobbe Micha, Kelly Schacht, Jessie Schietecatte, Vladimir Tanghe, Karel Thienpont, Nel Aerts, Marko Stamenkovic, Joris Van de Moortel, Floris Vanhoof, Boris Dewolf