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Genealogies were composed by families wishing to claim some territory or to justify a marriage, but above all they were intended to " Genicot points out, one cannot assert from a genealogy that a territory has become a principality, but one can affirm that a family has become aware of its own significance and wishes to establish itself as a lineage of importance in its own right or because of its ties to the royal family. Genicot notes that the extant genealogies from the early Middle Ages up to Carolingian times concern only the royal family.
After this period one finds " In Hommes et structures du Moyen Age Georges Duby emphasizes that older extant genealogies tend to give a larger role to female members of the family, whereas genealogies of the twelfth century focus almost completely on the male line4.
Before the year one easily loses track of a family name. In this period the family's interests are seen more readily in. Georges Duby. Hommes et structures du Moyen Age, La Haye, I : Les Hommes ', Vol. II : La Noblesse, Louvain, In a society where power and wealth emanate from a central authority, the paternal ancestor would appear less significant than ties one's family might have to the families most closely allied to the crown.
In the period following the disintegration of the Carolingian Empire, territorial principalities formed. As these families became conscious of their own possessions, perceived now as inherited territories almost as if independently owned, they manifested a marked interest in tracing their own ancestry and in establishing an official history of their area. One can see this readily in the Angevin6 and Norman territories in the north in the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries 7. The dynastic interest of these. See K. See the Chronica de gestis consulum Andegavorum , written probably in the first half of the xiith century.
The chronicle traces the Anjou family back through Foulque le Roux II to the legendary Ingelger, who saved the countess Adele in single combat and was named heir to her territory, though physically unrelated to the family Chroniques d'Anjou, ed. Contemporary annals and charters show no Ingelger as count of Anjou in the s and s. Ingelger fits the common pattern in an oral society and in this period of giving the established lineage a heroic ancestor who is perceived as the founder of the house. It is not uncommon for him to be an outsider, someone whose noble characteristics are established by his deeds but whose actual family history is unknown or even a mystery.
Not only major territorial families showed such an interest. In the Gesta Amhaziensium Dominorum and the Liber de Compositione Castri Ambaziae, written around Chroniques d'Anjou , the author gives the chateau at Amboise a glorious " lineage " back to the time of Caesar. He traces the lineage of the territory to Hugh of Lavardin, god-son of Hugh Capet.
Hugh received Lavardin from his godfather and he obtained Basougers and Sainte-Suzanne from his marriage to Odeline, daughter of Raoul, viscount of Sainte-Suzanne. Hugh's son, Lisoie, received Amboise because of his close friendship with Fulk the Black, count of Anjou Throughout the Gesta one senses that a territory is forming within the border shadows of Anjou and Champagne. In fact, G. Duby suggests that the chanson de geste influenced historians and genealogists of the eleventh century in an important way8.
As he noted, the most important families could trace their nobility clearly into the tenth century, whereas lesser families could not usually trace their ancestry earlier than the early eleventh. In the Historia comitatum Ghisnensium Lambert d'Ardres traces the family lineage back to the year At this point he must invent a certain Sifridus, described as a Scandinavian adventurer who seduces the Count of Flander's daughter, is eventually dubbed by the Count of Flander and becomes count in turn.
Duby notes, this explanation of how the family was founded is not unlike situations found in contemporary chansons de geste , undoubtedly perceived more as history than fiction 9, nor is it far removed from the contemporary situation where companies of youth hired themselves out in various regions and occasionally married into families far removed from their own homes.
If families sought to establish their noble origins by affirming ties to the Carolingian nobility or to the " noble foreign warrior" whose vigorous stock was demonstrated in extraordinary exploits, histo-. There is no doubt that the chronicle begins to establish this family independently as a principality later acquiring Chaumont. However, the extraordinary growth of Angevin power under Geoffrey le Bel Plantagenet ended independent thoughts at Amboise and in many smaller territories which came under Angevin control.
Recent studies point increasingly to the inadequacy of our post-eighteenth century distinctions between history and fiction when treating medieval texts. Not only do we define reality and evaluate evidence in a way foreign to the medieval mind, but the act of remembering history or law in an oral society involves a process of transformation alien to our notion of factual history.
This is a subject which has grown in importance in the past decade and is beginning to offer new avenues of approach and insights into medieval historical consciousness. To the medieval historian a number of lineages accounted for the fabric of creation from the beginning of time until the present. There was, of course, the biblical lineage of mankind which extended back to Adam and creation.
Here the literal lineage was less significant since it clearly belonged to all men than the understanding of history within the Christian perspective of salvation. This was at once a private matter for every man and yet a universal model into which nations fit irrespective of their own ideas of their historical origins. It provided a moral and ethical framework against which each house, nation and man would ultimately be measured. Inevitably the success or failure of dynasties and people would be evaluated in terms of their response to God's call at the conclusion of time.
Just as the medieval historian perceived the history of mankind as a moral continuum stretching back to creation, he also saw an unbroken lineal history of the "modern " French nation, the people chosen to carry on the learning and civilization "clergie" and "chevalerie" of the Roman Empire, through Rome and Aeneas back to the Trojan city destroyed by Homer's Greeks. This unmistakeable "noblesse", clearly inherent even in the pagan warriors of antiquity who did not know Christ, became part of the great plan of salvation as God chose certain leaders, such as Constantine and then Clovis and the new royal lineage of France, to become receptacles of God's will, instruments of salvation for their people and Europe in general.
Yet historians also had to account for the ancestry of the barbarian nations themselves and to evaluate their role in God's plan. One can see the close connection intellectually between what is happening in these dynastic histories and a historian like P. Magistri known as the Anonymous , author of Hungary's earliest history, the Gesta Hungarorum Obviously trained in France, P. Scriptores rerum Hungaricarum , ed. Budapest, , p.
Just as the French and British traced their ultimate origins back to the Trojans, so did the Hungarians claim their origins in the legendary people made famous by Herodotus, the Scythians In addition to their ties to the Scythians, the Anonymous also claimed a somewhat less remote ancestor for the Hungarians, Attila the Hun In genealogical terms, however, the founder of the modern dynasty becomes a legendary king named Almus, who is elected by the tribal chieftains to lead the Hungarian people to the land which they eventually conquered and settled in the Danube basin The prevalence of the historical impulse noted in genealogies can be seen in the extensive histories, such as the Gesta consulum Andegavorum compiled for the house of Anjou, and in the numerous histories, such as those of William of Poitiers, Dudon de St.
Quentin, Orderic Vitalis, Henry of Huntingdon, etc. No attempt is made to link Attila directly to the Hungarian royal family. It is fascinating that the historian attempts to link biblical and secular history here, for the first king of the Scythians becomes Magog, the son of Japheth : "Ex primus rex Scithie fuit Magog filius Iaphet et gens ilia a Magog rege vocata est Moger Almus's mother has a divinely inspired dream during her pregnancy concerning her future son and his progeny : " Quia ergo sompnium in lingua Hungarica dicitur almu et illius ortus per sompnium fuit pronosticatum, ideo ipse vocatus est Almus.
The historical impulse which motivates men to place their own lineage within the framework of a larger historical pattern and to set their national lineage within the framework of world history derives in part from medieval man's strong apocalyptic sense of time. Time was not an unending continuum in which man, as a biological creature, was merely one of many accidentally formed living organisms which would pass from life to death.
Time was the name given to man's measurement of changing phenomena. Human time represented a limited span within eternity, with a definite beginning and end. Every human being had a " family " connection, even if lost from sight, with the beginning, and each person had a moral tie to both the flow of events and his ancestors. Thus when Beneit writes his Roman de Troie, he is not content to begin his tale with the judgment of Paris. Rather he begins his story with the voyage of the Argonauts and the first insult between Greeks and Trojans.
Subsequent events all stem from that original encounter many years earlier. The cycle of the First Crusade not only tells of Godefroi of Bouillon's success, it follows the story forward toward Saladin and backward to the origins of the house of Bouillon, to Godefroi's ultimate ancestor. The early texts recount the concatenation of people and events which led to the birth and exploits of Godefroi de Bouillon This xnth-century tendency to place events in an absolute context is also apparent in the movement from monographic philosophical studies common in the xith and xnth centuries toward the great theological summas and the encyclopedic texts of the xmth.
And it is nowhere more apparent than in the treatment of Arthurian romance and the Tristan material. In the xmth century authors present the entire. It should be noted here that Godefroi's family also had roots in a legendary figure, the Swan Knight, who appeared in time to defend Ida's inheritance and who departed mysteriously when the forbidden question was asked.
The Swan Knight here is another example of the Sifridus character. These long, episodic tales are framed within a period of time encompassed by the Arthurian kingdom, itself often placed historically within world history. So it is with Tristan. The xnth-century versions give way to the vast Tristan en Prose16, a "summa" which not only seeks to provide Tristan with a complete lineage, but incorporates the kingdom of Cornwall and the world of Tristan and Iseut into the Arthurian epoch. This Tristan cycle fits into the history of the British kings and the Arthurian world.
In a sense the author of the Tristan en Prose sought to answer many questions in integrating the Tristan story into both French and Arthurian history. Not only does he give Tristan both a moral and ancestral lineage, he explains the hero's destiny in a particularly medieval way. Moreover, the author uses his particular bias to elucidate the place of Cornwall in British history and to establish the Tristan story within the larger Arthurian setting. Volume one of R. Curtis's text barely takes us to the point just before Tristan and Iseut drink the love potion.
Yet to come are dozens of folios recounting the tale of the two lovers and the exploits of various Arthurian knights and of Tristan before we reach the conclusion to the story of Tristan and Iseut. In the introductory material the author attempts to establish the ancestry of Mark and Tristan as well as delineate the relationship between Cornwall and Great Britain within the historical framework. But he also seeks to provide the Arthurian and Cornwallian worlds of chivalry with a moral heritage, just as medieval man believed that mankind's lineage included a moral ancestry reaching back to the beginning of creation.
Finally, the meaning of Tristan's name is tied closely to the circumstances of his own birth and this becomes symbolic of his own. Curtis edits one version a short one at that in a corpus of many manuscripts. A number of the manuscripts are so different that they must be considered independent texts. Events, characters and structure vary greatly. There is virtually no criticism of Sador, Chelynde, Tristan or Iseut in the text.
The world of his fiction is based on his understanding of the real world. Characters make decisions and carry out acts which harm or benefit them according to the narrative's circumstances. Only in the ultimate scenes of judgment does the reader get some idea of what the author's view of his character's conduct is. Then one sees the sum total of the character's life and the consequences that await him.
Just as medieval man saw God's judgment at the end of man's temporal existence, so does the Tristan author express his opinion on the character's conduct in describing his end. Thus the introductory volume of the Tristan en Prose becomes as important to an understanding of the entire romance as the Pentateuch or the Book of Genesis are in understanding the history of mankind up to the birth and Passion of Christ. It is in this part of the text, in fact, where the author really reveals his understanding of the Tristan story and of the Arthurian world.
For it is in tracing Tristan's ancestry that one sees the mistakes in will and conduct which burden Tristan's own existence. Tristan's ancestors set up a sequence of conduct just as ineluctable as when the Argonauts were insulted by the Trojans in the Roman de Troie. It may not have seemed so at the time, but this minor insult would lead to the gigantic conflict between Troy and Greece leading to the ultimate destruction of Troy. So too are the ancestors and Tristan's early conduct important for an understanding of the Tristan en Prose.
The introductory episodes of the first volume occur many decades, perhaps even hundreds of years prior to Tristan's birth and the period of Arthurian chivalry. It is clear from the text that the author has no real chronological idea of the relationship between the period where the story begins and the Arthurian period, but he knows. The initial episode concerns the twelve sons of King Bron of Britain and his brother-in-law, Joseph of Arimathia.
Clearly this places the events within a period of decades following the death of Christ, though the sequence of events and chronology belie such an early beginning. The telescoping of history, so typical of oral societies 18 , is apparent in the author's use of historical information. Moreover, the configuration of events suits the author's idea of the early history of Britain, France and Cornwall and its relationship to the important grail quest, early British lore, and biblical typology. Bron, perhaps an attempt to relate the early folkloric hero, Bran the Blessed, to Arthurian romance, has twelve sons whom he commits to Joseph of Arimathia for disposition.
Of the twelve sons one, Helains Ii Gros, dedicates himself to the Lord and chooses to remain celibate Joseph marries ten of Helains' brothers, but the eleventh and youngest, Sador, refuses to allow anyone to select a bride for him. Although he assures Joseph that he will willingly obey him in everything else, on this one matter, he insists, he must be free to make his own choice.
The memory constantly adapts material, condenses it, eliminates seemingly unimportant facts or people. Clanchy points to the work of Professor Evans-Pritchard, who analyzes in his book, The Nuer , Oxford, , how the reliance on memory in keeping the genealogy of the tribe causes a radical foreshortening of events and ancestry in direct proportion to the amount of time lapsed. The further the tribe was removed from events the more likely it would be that an unimportant son would be eliminated from the family tree or that one great leader would become the son of another tribal hero whose era might predate the alleged son's by many decades.
As time passes the needs of the present and the limitations of oral transmission tend to condense the history and ancestry into a configuration which suits the needs of contemporary society. The parallel between the twelve sons and Israel's twelve tribes is unmistakeable. Note that Joseph entrusts Helains with the holy mission of protecting the sacred vessel which contains Christ's blood.
Joseph of Arimathia collected the blood from Christ's side and has brought the vessel and its contents to Britain. The principal narrative of the first volume begins with the adventures of Sador, Bron's youngest son, who married the Babylonian princess, Chelynde, shipwrecked on her way to marry the king of Persia. From this marriage both Tristan and Mark eventually emerge, as well as the legitimate lineages of the houses of Leonois and Cornwall. In the course of her adventures Chelynde becomes the wife of King Canor of Cornwall By him she has a son, Cicoriades, who will become the ruler of Cornwall.
Her previous son, Apollo by Sador , becomes the king of Leonois when the heir apparent designates the noble youth on his deathbed. Thus Chelynde is the maternal heir of both Tristan and King Mark. This has the effect of making Mark and Tristan even closer than their uncle and nephew relationship implies. Both share in the moral heritage bestowed by Chelynde. After Sador has been out of the main narrative for several years, he returns to the story as a defender of Cornwall.
Pelades, Canor's brother, sends for the redoubtable Sador to help him in his fight against Pelias of Leonois, who holds his brother Canor captive. Interestingly, Pelades and Sador journey to the king of France, Marovex, overlord of the kingdom of Cornwall. At this point one should note that the narrative cannot be too many years beyond the time of Joseph of Arimathia. The author does here what nearly any writer of that period might have done if he had tried to relate his story to early French history.
There Sador and Pelias hold a judicial duel before the king. Much is made over the fact that all these people, except for the Britisher, Sador, are pagans. The text stresses that, shortly thereafter, the French successor of Marovex, Clodovex,. Dudo of St. But this remains some years in the future. His father was Chlodio and his grandfather, the first of the Franks to be called king, Faramond. Faramond's father was Duke Marcomire, in some texts son of Priam. Childeric remained king for twenty-four years and was succeeded in by Clovis, who eventually became converted to Christianity in the first decade of the vith century In the Tristan en Prose Apollo, son of Sador and Chelynde, is invited to the coronation of Clodovex, the recently baptised king of the Franks.
The events which follow tie both Mark and Tristan to French royal lineage. Clodovex's son falls madly in love with. One is tempted to see in this sketch something of the reality in Britain and France. There is considerable evidence in the archeological remains that Christianity had penetrated Great Britain in the second and third centuries. One can even estimate when Christianity came to certain villas by the appearance of Christian symbols on dishware and in the mosaic art.
By the time St. Augustine heads the missionary group sent by Gregory the Great, their introduction depends on the Christian Frankish princess married to the English king. Is this reflection of Christianity in Great Britain prior to its currency on the continent not a reminiscence of this oral history? Is Gildas' severe criticism of the lustful, effeminate and thoroughly decadent Britishers also tinged by the idea that they had not only enjoyed Roman civilization but had been introduced first to Christianity only to allow it to be submerged beneath their latent pagan waywardness?
This theme will appear as the moral ancestral heritage left by Sador and Chelynde to their progeny. The Tristan en Prose author shortens the number of French kings and telcscopes the time that passes. Though many decades pass, one remains in the same era. Such foreshortening was not uncommon. It reminds one of the treatment given to the Franks in the years between the fall of Troy, the founding of Sicambria, and the final move to Gaul.
The many hundreds of years are shortened into a period covering several generations. Only the briefest sketch of leaders from Priam to Duke Marcomire, the first of the Frankish leaders, can be given. Apollo's wife, Gloriande. The violence of his passion causes the death of both Apollo and Gloriande. When the French king discovers his son's crime, he has him burned to death Clodovex raises Apollo's son, Candaces, to knighthood, grants him Cornwall and Leonois to govern, and gives him his daughter, Cressille, in marriage.
At this point the text has completed the story of Tristan's distant ancestry. The author informs the reader that Candaces and Cressille ruled for many years and had twelve sons. The eldest, Crissides, was given Cornwall and, by consent of the other ten brothers, the youngest ruled Leonois. In biblical fashion the author now notes that the land passed from heir to heir for how long is uncertain until one Felix was king of Cornwall. Of his two sons and four daughters, Mars Mark became king of Cornwall and his sister, Elyabel, married Meliadus, king of Leonois, far enough removed not to be considered a relative, yet all stemming from the same common ancestors.
From the union of Meliadus and Elyabel comes Tristan, Mark's nephew. It is here that Tristan is raised, away from his uncle, Mark. Here he first meets the Morholt and later discloses his identity to Mark when he recounts his lineage to the Morholt just prior to their judicial duel.
Also, in art schools in the US—unlike those in Europe—technique is no longer part of the curriculum. Post-disciplinary is the word. In museums, so-called experts rule, who are paid by so-called collectors, who are in fact investors. Art has now reached the same dead end as politics. There is still this kind of energy, but it dates from the Renaissance and what ensued, including the moderns: Courbet, Ensor and Munch Though Conceptual Art suits the market marvellously—no storage is required, nor transportation, so it is very low cost! Nor has Postmodernism anything to do with painting.
It is a recycling of tradition, consisting of pastiches. This was preceded by Minimal Art, which was based on geometry and no longer pictorial, either. Larry Poons and Walter Darby Bannard, whom we are exhibiting here today, belonged to this group, but Minimal Art lasted only from until Afterwards, the minimal artists endured a period of crisis. The art we are presenting bears witness to a new vision of space. These artists all share a respect for the unforeseen and for rhythm. We are not about to give this production a name; it is too soon for that.
For now, we have only identified a group of artists. So this event will be an experience, an occasion to see whether it may awaken energies. Roberto Polo — Minimalism made sense at the time. We are now looking into some other phenomena and noting the connection between these painters. Paul Manes and Werner Mannaers clearly breathed the same oxygen, though their expressions differed. They have an identical conception of light, geometry and space—which happens to be distorted warped space and deployed in depth, thus reconciling the linear and the pictorial.
Of the eight Belgian artists, I already represented five. The others have recently joined my gallery. Several of them are both figurative and abstract artists, whose works are deeply imbued with pictorial narrative. They are breaking down barriers. That is how art should be. For that reason, despite the fact that we had the chance to conceive an institutional exhibition in collaboration with the establishment, we preferred to mount an experimental one. How has the decline of painting affected post-war American artists? Barbara Rose — To my mind, painting has been in trouble since , when Jackson Pollock stopped painting drippings and felt unable to come up with another solution.
Maybe painting was not dead, but progress certainly was. Other paths had to be found. Duchamp, who was living in New York at the time, had an enormous influence, but it was Warhol, who denigrated painting as an art form associated with bourgeois values, who ensured its decline.
The Minimalists on the other hand were supported by young critics at the time, but I think—with hindsight—that Minimal Art really set off because two of its artists, Donald Judd and Robert Morris, who wrote articles for Artforum, started propagating their own production. Donald was a great intellectual. He could have rivalled the highly influential art critic Clement Greenberg, but the dialogue faltered. When the latter died, there was no one left to tell with any authority what was valuable and what was going to stand the test of time.
That has remained true until this day. I do not, for that matter, think that there are no movements or trends anymore. To the contrary, since globalisation and the new modes of communication, the doors are open to anything! Though it is obvious that American art is no longer triumphant in the sense that nobody is talking about it, there is, however, a lot of energy out there, particularly among Afro-Americans. I am representing Western painting, as it is an expression of the civilisation I belong to, but I am interested in influences from other cultures.
We will keep on watching out for any new creations! An art historian, curator, critic, and professor, she has a rare gift for explaining art, which allows her to address any and all audiences from the readers of Vogue to those of Art in America and Artforum. There are different kinds of art critics: some condemn and judge, some are co-conspirators. Barbara Rose clearly belongs to the latter group. Like many art scholars who are close to artists she was once married to Frank Stella, now regarded as a classic of Modern American Art , Barbara Rose is always on their side.
This exhibition is an attempt to show the world that artists and in this case, American and Belgian artists are used as an example have never ceased panting, learning more about form and colour, and experimenting with plastic arts. Having visited hundreds of studios, she found that both countries and in fact, everywhere in the world had artists that shared the same pictorial concerns and remain true to the rich Western European artistic heritage. She says that the rumours about the death of painting are greatly exaggerated and that when people remind her about how Marcel Duchamp first predicted the demise of painting as an art form in the dim and distant future, she cites the recent Duchamp exhibition at the Pompidou centre, which clearly showed the master was not a particularly good painter and that this was probably the main reason why he was so eager to see it disappear.
Barbara Rose is not jumping to conclusions though, "This exhibition does not try to present a new movement, some kind of a new wave in art, or what would be even worse, to set a new trend, it simply intends to show that painting in the grand manner is alive and kicking, and that new artists are picking up where their predecessors left off", she says.
When people in the know about art hear his name, it brings to mind, among other things, the fact that it was Roberto Polo who importantly opened the 18th century to museums in France. He started promoting Fragonard and then gave the Louvre his 'Adoration of the Shepherds'. Polo is famous as someone with an uncanny ability to identify emerging trends dismissed by others. If he is betting on painting, that means it is far from being dead. These artists depict a new notion of space that could best be described as phenomenological or cosmic.
This exhibition focuses on tactile pictorial surfaces and cosmic spaces. It is also a catalogue of what is happening in the world of painting today, an area that contemporary art critics and magazines largely ignore. It is a heroic exhibition of paintings by 16 painters, eight Americans and eight Belgians, which is in fact presented as 16 solo shows that introduce the visitors to each artist and their personal evolution.
It is still unclear whether this will be the last attempt to open the public's eyes to painting as an art form, or whether its curator and organiser will go down in history as those who opened the cell doors and liberated artists who had been unfairly condemned to oblivion. The Refuge, Photo: courtesy of the artist. Yet Roberto Polo's patronage is not confined to museums. To my mind, three qualities characterise a true Maecenas: his knowledge, curiosity, and generosity. Because he is a learned scholar, Roberto Polo, who is also an artist, has always had great interest in many cultural domains: fine and decorative arts, music… as he is sensitive to many forms of artistic expressions, and encourages each in turn.
Roberto Polo is also fundamentally curious: he is an eternal discoverer, open to anything he encounters, who keeps investigating new fields of interest, rare techniques, artists he deems to be underestimated — and subsequently goes on to promote them. Whereas initially he mainly admired 18th century art, he went on to open others' eyes to 19th century art and to promote contemporary artists in whose work he possesses conviction.
Surely, his generosity must be congenital. Roberto Polo simply loves to help and sustain anything that seems valuable to him, and selects his causes with great discernment. He not only supports a number of institutions, whether important or modest, but also lends his support to temporary manifestations — exhibitions, concerts, publications — and to artists — musicians, painters — with whom he has a natural rapport and to whom he always lends a sympathetic ear. As an exemplary Maecenas, who has happily bestowed very diverse, spontaneous, and disinterested contributions throughout two continents, favouring various countries, periods and disciplines, Roberto Polo should rightly be proud of his achievements.
Numerous are his debtors, who will be sincerely happy to see him honoured with the Premio Capital Arte de Mecenazgo Internacional. The group exhibition presented this summer reveals work by several artists to whom the gallery intends to devote solo exhibitions in the near future. In all its diversity, this exhibition provides ample proof — to whomever might still doubt this — that the art of painting is, now more than ever, alive and kicking.
Painting has lost none of its impact and is developing in a range of quite diverse and decidedly contemporary directions, allowing itself the freedom to become fiercely independent. In this respect, abstraction and figuration join together in demonstrating considerable overall quality. Faithful visitors of the gallery will be happy to encounter a portrait and a series of paintings by Jan Vanriet, in which the strange attitude of the figures and the repetition of the subject unerringly attract attention to their painterly rendering.
In the field of figurative painting, Bernard Gaube distinguishes himself with several portraits displaying a graphic and chromatic treatment that insists on the impossibility of capturing physical and psychological identity in just one painting, as each subject is multiple. In the field of abstraction, Bernard Gilbert, whose work is exhibited at the gallery for the first time, shatters all limits between categories and genres by relentlessly exploring techniques, images and materials.
Mil Ceulemans pursues his spatial progressions, moving between geometry, construction and lyricism, while Joris Ghekiere exploits the infinite potential of colours with great sensitivity. Werner Mannaers, on the other hand, is a seeker who stops at nothing and whose pictorial solutions catch viewers by surprise with their boundless inventiveness. Recent Paintings. Until 17 July and from 17 August until 18 September. The presentation of his debut work Homo Sovieticus on 9 November coincided exactly with the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The preview of his latest series Cuba, la lucha at Roberto Polo Gallery took place three days before the historic state visit to Cuba by Barack Obama — the first American president on Cuban soil since With a wink and cool irony, it seems. Consciously highlighting unfeigned chauvinism and painful stereotypes can lead to interesting series of images. He offers his vision, keeping sufficient distance. He questions relations in reality. You can taste the illusion of the workers' paradise and the decay of a system on its last legs in almost every picture. The inhumanity and sadness I met there was so enormous that I had to change my strategy in order not to revert to empathetic pictures of poverty, sickness and victims", De Keyzer says.
Carl De Keyzer counters this remark with a positive suggestion: "Wouldn't it be wonderful and enriching if Indian, Cuban or other foreign photographers were to come and record our country? We know the visual effects from many previous series, such as Homo Sovieticus — in preparation for which the Magnum photographer is rumoured to have gone through more than fifty books.
It led to more direct, less layered images. To my surprise, they had more success. In the s, all artists and intellectuals enthused over Communism and Marxism. Back then, I was a confirmed supporter of Amada [far-left Maoist party in Belgium]. A case in point is the photograph in which, at first sight, we only see tents, a huge fortress and ads for Cristal and Bucanero beer. Nothing special, if it weren't for the fact that this is where the annual book festival takes place; Cubans will queue for miles to get their hands on one book.
But this place is anything but innocent: in the background the high walls of the state tower against the sky, in the form of a gigantic barracks. But the venom is also there invisibly: Che Guevara left a trail of executions here. With an imagery that is undeniably his own, he experiments with a new style, fitting the subject, time and again.
For his previous project, Moments Before the Flood, he went looking for hyper-realistic images of Europe's coastline and the real fear for floods, in the tradition of marine painting, equipped with an million pixel camera mounted on a tripod. I armed myself with a million pixel Pentax. With such a high resolution I could also ensure enough detail in shadow areas. Cuba is losing part of its soul because of tourism, but it can also look ahead positively because of the relaxation of the year-old American embargo of the Communist island. In spite of an uncertain future we leave the exhibition with some hope, in the light of the survival instinct 'la lucha' the struggle of the Cubans.
Open Tue-Fri 2 p. Those who once were charismatic young leaders guiding the nation toward progressive changes have remained in power until today, despite a lengthy economic crisis. According to reports from human rights organisations, thousands of opponents have been incarcerated since the start of the Castro regime and a large part of the Cuban population has gone into exile, either for political or for economic reasons.
La lucha, the struggle, is the most common Cuban expression to denote its permanent state of being since the collapse of the economy in the nineties. Coined by the people to define their struggle for survival, and common currency since the crisis, this term is still being used even today.
Carl De Keyzer 's eponymous latest work on Cuba, which echoes this fighting spirit, presents his observation of the changes the island is undergoing in this day and age. Carl De Keyzer has published books on themes as widely varied as religion God, Inc. Basically, the central focus of his projects resides in his observation of systems invented to organise mankind.
Internal control mechanisms and their effects on society fascinate him. His work manages to avoid any obvious criticisms and to focus on the subtlety of humour, the surprises and vulnerability emerging from daily life. This is how he presents the effects of change, decoding its impact in countless poetical, intimate moments that defy scepticism.
Unlike most photographers working as reporters, his photographs are not documentary, as his endeavour is not aiming for realism. At the start of his persistent exploration of the collapse of Socialism, the photographer focused on Armenia, Uzbekistan, Russia and Lithuania, finally covering all fifteen Soviet Republics, always determining his concept beforehand and planning ahead, as he is well aware that the opportunity to capture an instant is always fleeting.
His use of the flash and slow shutter speed to intensify the contrast and illuminate key elements of the image has become his aesthetic mark. As in neorealist Italian movies, reality reveals itself as simultaneously crude and poetic. Carl De Keyzer has now embarked on another photographic quest to witness what seems to be the end of Socialism. He went to Cuba in January , after President Obama's much publicised announcement of his intention to re-establish relations between Cuba and the United States.
In his historic speech, Obama proclaimed an end to the sanctions that have weighed heavily on the Cuban people, and, making a memorable political gesture, publicly acknowledged that the embargo benefited neither state, while at the same time also imposing one condition: "We are calling on Cuba to unleash the potential of 11 million Cubans by ending unnecessary restrictions on their political, social, and economic activities.
In Cuba, la lucha, scenes of people afflicted by material shortages, framed by deteriorated houses, seem inevitable. In contrast with this iconography, some of Carl De Keyzer's shots look like melancholy displays of artificial happiness, for instance the scene, simultaneously kitschy and full of despair, of a wedding, calling to mind Martin Parr's nightmares in Technicolor depicting suburban Britain.
Less saturated and ever familiar, the effigies of Che Guevara adorning an obsolete bank branch, or inserted in the pages of an atlas of Cuba, yield a sarcastic comment on indoctrination. In general terms, looking at these images, we can feel like intruders in the private, social spaces Cubans are nonetheless prepared to share with us, the curious visitors from abroad. This feeling derives as much from the ambivalence of a present shaken up by internal changes and the enormous, proverbial curiosity of the rest of the world about the particular nature of Cuba.
In Cuba, la lucha, the questions remain unanswered, open like gaping wounds or burgeoning fresh flowers, given the fact that the central theme of this series is the change, which is, for that matter, not only painful but also unfathomable. This uncertainty is apparent from his oblique portraits of individuals, their bodies in contact with buildings in ruins, immersed in garish colour fields, engaging in their daily routines. He returned with unique images of a country in transition from Communist to Capitalist systems.
D This was close to my hotel. A glance at an old car, a portrait of Che, the logo of the SuperStar talent show on German television — and then this SuperMario walked into the frame. I just could not miss this. For Moments Before the Flood , he travelled along the coastline of the European continent, under threat of rising sea levels. We are visiting Carl De Keyzer at his home, in the peace and quiet of the East-Flanders village, where he settled two years ago. The proofs of the new book have been approved, the prints for the exhibition in Roberto Polo Gallery are ready: the photographer is visibly enjoying the calm after a hectic period.
I even considered giving up photography. I had been travelling for eighteen months, and looking at the results of the exhibitions and the book, I considered these somewhat meagre in comparison with my efforts. I didn't want to do this kind of big project anymore. My age was certainly a factor: I'm no longer this stripling who went backpacking in India for six months. I just wanted to teach a bit, and for the rest start taking it easy. And yet, suddenly there was this inner drive again. I still had a few projects lying around that I could carry out in the short term without being away from home for a year.
Cuba was one of them. Shoot: But why Cuba? It is like my Congo project, in which I also show a lot of ruins and decay. With the end of the Soviet Union, Cuba had suddenly lost its major sponsor. Now everybody thinks it will just be a matter of time before the system collapses. Every day a house literally collapses in Havana, because there are no materials to maintain the buildings. Yet, miraculously, they manage to keep the system going — also because Fidel refuses to die [laughs]. In the end, it took quite a while before I could leave for Cuba.
I intended to stay for three months, even though as a tourist, you are normally only granted a one-month visa. In December , there was Obama's speech in which he announced that he wanted to ease the trade restrictions. At that moment, I really thought I had left it too long. Finally, I was able to set off in January of last year, and it proved to be the perfect moment. Obama's speech had quite an impact: there is hope among the Cubans once more. Such timing is crucial.
I can't predict the future, but I try to take it into account. I had just finished my book Homo Sovieticus, for instance, when the Berlin Wall came down. Shoot: What did you shoot in Cuba? I didn't want to take those typical pictures with beautiful old-timers and derelict buildings. That has been done often enough. My first idea was to only take pictures inside — in principle, Cuba is more interesting inside than outside. During the first week, I shot inside people's homes. Inside you see poverty, sadness, people who are just, like the Communist state, waiting for the end.
But I just couldn't bear to keep that up. On principle, I do not photograph victims, sick people, corpses: I find that too easy. So after that, it became a kind of road trip through Cuba, with more symbolic images. The combination of a Communist regime with a Central-American country does provide thrilling images.
Shoot: As you said, Cuba has been photographed quite often. How did you avoid the stereotypes? Aesthetics cannot be an aim in itself. I think beauty is important, but content — to use a big word — is just as important. The series Moments Before the Flood consists of nice images, but they do announce disaster. This element is also present in Cuba, la lucha. They are not just nice photos of derelict houses or old factory buildings, the ones you can find in abundance on the internet. I tried to add something extra; that is my style: in between, ecstasy, irony and criticism — with a hint of the surreal.
That is also why my images are meant to be viewed in large format; every detail has a role to play. But you also have to stop at a certain point, because an image that is too complex, doesn't work anymore. Shoot: Does such an approach still work in this fleeting Instagram era? Instagram is not the right medium for my work. I've built up a certain oeuvre; I have my own way of looking, my own way of thinking.
And today, there are more people than ever before who appreciate that, who are really interested in photography. When I look at the numbers of people that come to exhibitions, the numbers of people buying photo books — they just keep increasing. I will continue to make this kind of work. They are not ready-made, not fast food. People are not going to buy this book because they had a wonderful holiday on Cuba.
They might do that by mistake, but then they are in for a shock [laughs]. But it was so pitiful that I couldn't keep it up. Photoshoots on the occasion of a girl's fifteenth birthday, when she becomes an adult, are very popular. They really are like wedding photoshoots at home. Shoot: What is the meaning of the title of the book? There is a constant search for food, parts and materials. La lucha also refers to the struggle for Socialism, the struggle to keep believing in Socialist ideals, in spite of the embargo and the opposition abroad.
When I was 18, I had leftist leanings, like everyone of my age then. But my first travels to the Soviet Union quickly cured me of those: that was not the ideal world. In Cuba, the system still controls the population; every neighbourhood has its 'revolutionary committee' keeping an eye on the inhabitants. But also that is slowly disintegrating; mostly the committee consists of a granny behind a desk. There is also a third, more ironic meaning: la lucha is the name of a chain of co-operative DIY stores. Shoot: Could you tell us something about the technical aspects?
Today's digital cameras don't require a flash anymore. Flash lighting was characteristic of my style, but also a mere necessity. In India and the Soviet Union, I was often working in large halls with many people, and using ASA film rolls required the use of flash. For this book, I shot everything with a medium-format Pentax Z — with Pentax also sponsoring the project.
The Z is a bit cumbersome, but the autofocus is fast enough for reporting purposes. I worked with sensitivities between and 12, ISO and even in large-format prints there is hardly any noise. I still prefer the medium format — I'm not a 35 mm photographer.see
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I love the painting-like serenity of that format. Shoot: The theme of this issue of Shoot is children and adolescents. What is the impression you receive from your young students? In our final year, we went to Normandy for a week, and we thought that was a big adventure. Now they're off to Japan or Alaska, or present projects on the drug trade in Colombia.
Their scope is the world, they have much more information and they use it. I consider it an honour to be able to teach and experience that. The speed with which they spot things, evolve, make links, is sometimes mind-blowing. Because of digitalization, photography has become much more accessible, much cheaper.
It is also much faster. After a three-month trip I would spend another three months in the darkroom. Nowadays my students show me on Monday the two hundred photos they shot over the weekend. I do tell them: please come back when you have selected the top ten of those [laughs]. With a digital camera hardly anything can go wrong anymore. You end up with more technically usable images; the danger is that you're too easily satisfied. In a manner of speaking, I could come back from a trip and have a book and an exhibition ready within a week. But you do need time to let it all sink in.
I don't show more photos than I used to. The downside of this accessibility is that there are many more photographers today, making it more difficult to earn a living. But I find photography an extremely valuable study, even if you can't turn professional; it enriches everyone. Shoot: After looking at OdysSea, the documentary that Jimmy Kets made about your work, a friend of mine said: "Doesn't this guy have the best job in the world? I don't have to teach — I do it because I like it. Two or three times a year, I take on a big commission.
For the rest I choose my own subjects, and I decide myself how much time I want to spend on something. Even though my photography is not the most accessible, I can make a living without having to compromise. In that respect, I am one of the luckiest photographers of this country. There is not much more I could wish for.
I still prefer the medium format. The operator has fallen asleep, so maybe this ride will just keep going round and round. There is a festive atmosphere, but everything is strictly regulated. I had seen the American and Cuban flags. The sun was just perfectly aligned with the Cuban one. Then the blind man walked by, with a dollar sign on his cap. I quickly rang the doorbell and asked if I could take a picture from the balcony — the presence of a half-naked woman sunbathing there was of no interest to me.
I was just in time to press the shutter. Che, Fidel and the last iPhone There is no doubt that Cuba is at a turning point. No better moment for Magnum photographer Carl De Keyzer to point his camera at the early signs of a regime change. De Keyzer shows the last paroxysms of a country where time has stood still, even though the system has serious cracks. Though the combative slogans and the portraits of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro are ubiquitous, they are also literally fading. One of the most powerful images of the exhibition at Roberto Polo Gallery is the one of a blind man tapping his way across a chalk street painting, praising the reconciliation between Cuba and the U.
One omen of this nearly inevitable revolution is the invasion of American tourists. De Keyzer ruthlessly records this 'homo turisticus', basking by the pool, while merely a few feet away, on the other side of a high fence, dreary blocks of flats are languishing. Another tourist is enjoying the sunshine in a rocking chair on the patio of a colonial villa, with a display of postcards of a cigar-smoking Fidel and Che behind her — or how the propaganda machine of the regime and the capitalist tourist industry seem to go together surprisingly well. This friction, this paradigm change, is what De Keyzer is able to capture, often with a wry irony and not without humour.
Vintage cars still trundle through Havana, even though one driver has put a tv-screen in his battered old-timer. Also the iPhone has found its way in; a seller of charming paintings is languidly playing on his phone, with the same apathy we find in the capitalist West. The population seems to long for liberalization, but is mentally stuck in the system, as is clearly shown in a picture of an attendant in a rusty funfair, sleeping in her booth.
One thing is clear: the struggle is not over yet. Carl De Keyzer. It is a study of the transition ongoing in Cuba from a communist regime to a capitalist system and its consequences for the population. De Keyzer captures key moments in contemporary history by photographing intimate moments, always through the through a prism always tinted with poetry, often with irony and transcendental humour. His powerful, carnal images capture the dignity and charisma of Cubans struggling to survive.
His photographs of buildings in ruins evoke the splendour of a past era. Brussels — The writing on the wall says that Havana, like Sleeping Beauty, will soon wake up after over half a century of economic stranglehold by the U. He has hung the premises of the Roberto Polo Gallery with around sixty large-format photos. His exhibition is called Cuba, la lucha, after the struggle for survival that the Cubans had to go through after the fall of the Berlin Wall. In the middle of August last year, the U.
Embassy in Havana opened its doors. In September, a first limited load of American tourists was allowed in. The distance between Miami Beach and the artificial Varadero — not open to most Cubans — is about the same as the distance between Brussels and Paris. A new era has begun. After the Cuba Libre, no coke was available for half a century. The mentirita — the 'lying drink' as the Cubans call it, will return tomorrow, as Coca-Cola conquers its one-but-last market in the world.
Together with iPhones, fashion brands, fridges, IKEA furniture and cars, "we will get two Chinese cars for every gas-guzzling American old-timer", is what they hope. It will push the still picture of Cuba towards 'big capital vs. Petrol station As for now, time has been undermining the carcass that is left of Havana. A lack of building materials and cash in most of the population means that the amazing pres residences, palaces, hotels and restaurants have never been restored. The exhibition can be read as a final tribute to an era, captured in time in a motionless image. It is also a tribute to the resilience of a people, who, in the shadow of American brio, practically outpaced Europeans in the first half of the 20th century.
The accelerated modernisation of the car pool in the fifties bears witness to that. De Keyzer cannot help but capture these scenes with wrecks of wonderful car models. The dashboard of a taxi, not revealing that the cabdriver is an educated man — architect, engineer — in daily life. A petrol station that could have served as the background for James Dean or Saturday Night Fever, with an ad stating that the new Ford '58 is an automobile that compels admiration.
And then the real communists, those who still visit the Che Guevara memorial and have a framed poster of the man above their beds. Diffidence But there are also the young. An amalgam of well-educated people dreaming of America. Indeed, education is apparently free, as are medical and social care. However, young people do not get the training they desire; enrolment systems lead to courses that are quickly full up.
Moreover, medical training does cost a lot of money, as uniforms and materials have to be bought by the students. In other words: most of them do not get any chances. The photographer shows the disillusionment in a picture of a girl drawing her hopes from a laptop in the midst of a tangle of old printers that would be on the scrapheap in Europe.
Or people who find solace in a wedding, their only chance to show some glamour and wealth to the outside world. It looks beautiful among the other images, those of faded grandeur. De Keyzer finds a lick of paint in Caribbean colours on the facade of crumbling houses reflected in clothing. It is the only thing, apart from the seriously pollut ed natural environment, that puts some spirit into the island.
Only one feeling dominates the entire around sixty-picture photographic circuit: diffidence. Diffidence of the Cubans because of the restraints on their urge to better themselves; our diffidence because of our tacit consent of fifty years of stranglehold. Open Tue-Fri 2 - 6 p. Publication Cuba, la lucha, published by Lannoo, pp. When the article below was written, the working title of Bert Danckaert's series Horizon was i. The pointless journey On Bert Danckaert's pictures Photography exists by the grace of light. Light is a conditio sine qua non for photographers, and the same condition applies for painters.
Some of the latter consider the light in their part of the world so unsuitable that they consciously move to brighter surroundings, where they can capture more nuances of light on canvas. Light makes their work glow, as if the canvas they paint on is backlit by a lightbulb. Surgical precision Like any other photographer, Bert Danckaert paints with light.
For his photos, he prefers it "strong and without shadows, like an invisible presence, true and absolutely democratic. Indeed, that kind of light does not select what is or is not important. It just 'exposes'. Anything and everything is equal in its eyes. No ambience, nothing happening in the shadowy margins.
Light of equality and diffusion. He could use the light in his own back yard just as well. Then why does the photographer go to those faraway regions? In order to shoot walls, facades and car parks that he might just as well capture in his home town. Danckaert has photographed, for instance, car parks of IKEA branches all over the world.
So why does he take the plane to do that, instead of just hopping on a bus to go to his local IKEA, just a few stops down the road? Moreover, the car parks of the different outlets of the Swedish furniture multinational hardly differ from country to country, and Danckaert's photos of urban spaces — he calls them "thoughtless spaces" — do not feature people.
In that sense he takes anonymous photos. The facial features and skin colour of people in his pictures might otherwise have made the observers of his work remark that picture was taken in an IKEA car park in Japan, and the other one in an Eastern European country, for instance.
Now they can only guess. His books De extra's and Simple Present are, respectively, the textual and visual consolidations of those concepts: "At first, I started this project from the astonishing realisation that many places look the same the world over, as if there is no more room in this globalised world for cultural identity. The pointless journey: in order to find over there what we can also find right here, around the corner. The impossibility of exoticism and the relativity of the concepts of 'distance' and 'space' in this overpopulated and virtual-reality-dominated world.
I photographed traces and patterns of human activity. To a certain extent, this also goes for Danckaert's photos, which only reveal their 'secrets' minimally. He recognized that it was a naive construction and that the story behind the advancing globalisation and uniformisation of the world around us was much subtler. Some outlets of multinationals and many commercialized roads in cities all over the world might look more or less the same, but the soul of a city or a country is much harder to describe.
Danckaert says: "I discovered that some places were indeed completely interchangeable and that there is an image of a city that may be read as the result of years of multiculturalism and Capitalist dominance [ It appeared that my hypothesis was too one-sided, that some measure of differentiation was necessary. Please look for yourself: colourful facades, whose monotone monochrome is interrupted by vertical and horizontal lines in the shape of, for example, electric cables, bricked-up doors and windows, iron shutters, air vents and fences.
Tight formalism, pictured rigorously by means of a grid. This framing grid in the viewfinder of his camera enables Danckaert to compose or frame his subject almost mathematically, and as such to achieve absolute accuracy on a few square feet of a facade. An example of this is the photo i. In this, we see a facade on which work is being done. At the extreme left and right of the picture, there are three rows of horizontally layered black bricks with white pointing.
Of the third row of bricks, on each side, up against the edge of the frame, however, we only see less than half. The remarkable thing is that, of either row, we get to see just as much 'half'. That is surgical precision. However tight Danckaert's compositions may look in terms of division of spaces, there are also frivolous elements that squarely go against the first impression of a dogmatically Constructivist approach.
On the photo mentioned above, two thick black cables can be seen, snaking across the rigid face of the image and crossing each other almost voluptuously. Also diagonals frequently occur in Danckaert's photos. Just look at photo i. Another interesting feature of Danckaert's pictures is the fact that they sometimes look like abstract paintings cf. Just ignore the square plate — a light switch? The photo could then be a reproduction of one of his works, if it were not for the strip of pavement at the bottom of the picture Yet the comparison with an abstract canvas is not far-fetched, as Danckaert himself explains when he lectures on his work.
On that occasion he always shows the audience two slides next to each other: one of an abstract painting by Mark Rothko Number , and one of a colour photo by Saul Leiter Through Boards, The Leiter photo shows an abstract-like image consisting of a black and a red surface, with a few people and a car visible in between; the picture seems to have been taken from behind a closed fence with a slit-like gap in it.
Rothko's painting has a similar composition and consists of a red and a dark blue surface that almost, but not entirely, touch each other. In between there is a 'void' that the viewers can fill in as they please. Danckaert says: "This is a good example of the difference between abstraction and non-figuration. A photographer can never work non-figuratively, but possibly abstractly; whereas a painter, without referring to anything at all, can work non-figuratively.
In other words: a photographer is always tied to reality; however abstractly he works, it will always be the light that is reflected by objects and that makes the image.
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In photography, briefly, there is always the matter of a reference, while the painter can start from pure form, without necessarily referring to reality or abstracting reality. The photo as theatre box We have already touched on the aspects of 'cultural identity' and 'globalisation' in Bert Danckaert's work, but we have not yet or only summarily discussed the construction of his images.
The rectangular viewfinder of a camera allows photographers to make artificial cuts of our surroundings: people, animals and things. As a picture is a two-dimensional rendering of a three-dimensional situation, the illusion of a theatre box is created. This consists of a horizontal stage and a vertical background. Viewed in this way, the setting of a photo — and in particular Danckaert's seemingly stern and formalistic photos — is reminiscent of a theatre stage; this interpretation is helped along by the mostly frontal character of Danckaert's photos, which do not feature people or animals.
Indeed, the pictures that helped Danckaert's breakthrough, viz. One example is a photo in this article, Simple Present Guangzhou , You expect someone to come out of the doors any moment now.
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But waiting for that to happen would be like waiting for Godot as in Samuel Beckett's play of that name , which brings us straight back to the world of the theatre. He took the pictures shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall in a number of former Eastern Bloc countries, more specifically in the transitional areas between city and countryside, between city and industry.
An example of this early work is a black-and-white picture of a high brick wall, reaching beyond the upper limits of the frame. In the foreground, we can see a neglected strip of grass with a few scrawny little beech trees; in between the trees and the wall is a sturdy steel-wire fence. Instinctively, we get an uncomfortable feeling on viewing this scene. The word 'WAR' in itself already makes you shudder, and also the wall and the fence do not bode well. By zooming in on the letters 'WAR', Danckaert tricks the viewer.
For him, photos are not mere reproductions of reality. The magic of photography lies in the process leading to that construct. His parents worked in that environment and his brother Wim is an actor of both stage and screen. At first, also Bert Danckaert considered a career as an actor. After one year at the Royal Conservatory in Antwerp, however, he had to put a stop to his studies. Yet according to himself, he learnt more during that year than in the subsequent seven years of his photography training.
Especially his professor Luc Perceval proved to be an inspiration. Perceval taught Danckaert at a young age the concept of 'artistic responsibility', and being 'lethally consistent' in your work. In other words: as an artist, you need to take full responsibility for anything that you create through your work.
Bert Danckaert, Simple Present Shenzhen , Until this day, Bert Danckaert has kept Perceval's wise words in mind as a motto. As a freshly graduated photographer, he not only began to teach immediately, but he also started taking pictures related to the ones he takes now. In those days he only photographed in black-and-white and with analogue cameras, though. Later on, he switched to digital equipment and chose to work in colour. Between his graduation and the start of his project Simple Present, he started to experiment with all kinds of techniques, under the influence of photographer Dirk Braeckman.
He photographed television pictures, for instance, and blew up the images by projecting them onto photo paper with a slide projector. In , he took part in the Prijs Jonge Belgische Schilderkunst [Young Belgian Painting Prize] with a series of photos referring to surveillance images, and he was selected. During that period, his main theme was the mass media and how those images reached us, among others through the internet. Only around did he change his focus to concentrate on making pictures of reality, be it a reality that poses as a set.
Danckaert's reasoned approach to photography, especially concerning composition, leads to aesthetic images that are far from sterile — he allows too much intuition into his work for that. He is constantly searching for sites, viz. His method is invariably as follows: he stays in city somewhere on this planet for two weeks, and every day wanders aimlessly through the streets, without a preconceived plan, but focused on the everyday space in a stern and concentrated approach. Or he just takes the underground and gets off somewhere, anywhere. Sometimes he walks the streets hours at a stretch without taking a single picture.
In his own words: "There is always an interaction between the surprises that reality presents me with and the patterns and structures that I have in mind. Most definitely, my method includes something like a preconception, even a concept; yet at the same time there is always something unpredictable — compare it to free-jazz musicians who find each other while they are playing, and take leads from the others. In that sense, my work is musical.
Don't forget that music is essentially abstract, whereas photography is exactly the opposite. Photography is probably the most concrete of art forms, because it always creates photos of things in a particular location.
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In music, however, that question is not asked; music is about rhythms and colours and forms. Artists, students and scientists intervene in a typical urban hub: the shopping mall. They show what research in, with and about the arts means for our society. With artistic interventions, lectures, debates, laboratory demonstrations and a major festive event we throw ARIA into the midst of urban life on 4, 5 and 6 March What is art capable of in this commercial hub; what can art do in the city and in society?
On Saturday 5 March the artist's issue 'Bert Danckaert: i. On this occasion, Bert Danckaert will give a speech. A selection from his work will be on show during the three-day event. Further information, including the time of the presentation, will follow.
Please keep an eye on our website and Facebook account: www. Since the mid-nineties he has practised as a photographer and he has exhibited, both solo and in group exhibitions in Belgium and elsewhere. In , his first book, Make Sense! Besides his artistic activities, Bert Danckaert also reports on photography for several newspapers and magazines. In , on the occasion of his first solo exhibition at the Roberto Polo Gallery in Brussels, the complete work Simple Present Lannoo was published, covering 18 cities in 5 continents.
Simultaneously, the prose book De extra's was published by EPO. Both publications were the end result of the PhD in arts that Danckaert obtained from the University of Tilburg, The Netherlands, in Bert Danckaert is now exclusively represented by Roberto Polo Gallery. In contrast with photographers such as Andreas Gursky and Jeff Wall, Bert Danckaert has until now presented his photos in fairly small formats, for two reasons. Firstly, he has chosen to refer to a documentary tradition in his work; that type of photos is usually fairly small.
Secondly, he considers it important for viewers to build a physical relationship with his work, according to Danckaert "in order to almost attain the intimacy of a book.
You have to approach those images to be able to see them. In works by Wall and Gursky, on the other hand, the show value is immense. I really love their work, but I think that the subdued, reduced and abstract character of my work would not be served well by spectacular formats. The smaller photos are printed in 60 x 80 cm [about 25 x 30 in.
For Danckaert, it refers to the interpretation of reality in which photography speaks 'in other words'. But i. Indeed, he shoots them as a casual passer-by. Yet these encounters do lead to compelling, aesthetic images. Abbreviations are always more or less cryptic. They are, as it were, visual abbreviations of a larger reality that can be captured in a small frame.
Without the probing look necessary to read them on a multi-interpretable level, they remain unambiguous. With that look, they rise to become meta-photography, which is what makes them so unique. Patrick Auwelaert is editor of Kunsttijdschrift Vlaanderen, editor of Passage. He writes review, articles and essays on literature, music, visual arts, film and graphic design. That earned him a nomination to membership of the distinguished Magnum Photo agency. Almost thirty years on, he again documents political revolution, the breakdown of a social utopia and its impact on ordinary people in Cuba.
Also this time around, the timing is meticulous: just before De Keyzer arrived on the Caribbean island in January , President Obama had announced an improvement in American-Cuban relations. The result is a sometimes disturbing portrait of a country in transition, hesitating between the promise of economic growth, the temptations of Capitalism, and the fear of losing its identity as well as its traditions. Info: www. Cuba, the struggle, through the lens of photographer Carl de Keyzer Just before the island becomes an ordinary country: 'Cuba, la lucha'.
The photographer gladly records this repetitive history of collapsing systems. De Keyzer recognised the long queue for almost free Coppelia ice cream from the old Soviet Union where he was in and But that is really Soviet-like, and you can see that the whole system has been exported to Cuba.
Fidel did not have much of a say in that. He recognises how people fend off things, and defend themselves; how the country evolves and how the leader might be embarrassed.
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First there was the Soviet Union. Then God, Inc. Cuba, la lucha may be another 'moment before the flood'. But no customers. The picture I took there is not my best, but just look at that tattooed Neanderthal hanging around. But I think Obama's speech did not come out of the blue. You do not build something like this in a year; they knew.
But when Obama spoke his words 'Todos somos Americanos', I thought for a moment: shit, I've missed my chance. It is a frozen country. The Soviet Union was in better shape in than Cuba is now. It is a weather-beaten country, as is Communism. The standard of education is high, though.
But accommodation is horrible. Che did not know the first thing about economy. Now there is this book.
But la lucha "also the name of a chain of DIY stores where you can buy wallpaper and cement" does not just show old-timers. Actually he only wanted to look inside. He did not want anything too 'in-your-face'. And it has, certainly in health care. I could not get access to any hospital.
The rich occupants left the keys with the drivers and caretakers and shouted: "We'll be back in six months! If you invest, you will get a new Venice there. Three months were enough for the following idea: "It was a crime to introduce Communism in Cuba. Although I am aware of the advantages of the system, this should be a splendid island, and now, after 56 years, it needs to be rebuilt completely. I am against dictators and Batista was corrupt and needed to go.
But sometimes, like now in the case of the Middle East, you may wonder if it might not have been better to suffer Mubarak just a bit longer and to have a smoother transition without a revolution. That also goes for Cuba. There are wonderful books about the campo by Ernesto Bazan. But nobody saw the man playing the piano in a hacienda, against a background of threadbare chairs, the cruise ship in the harbour and the book market at the Havana fort where you can find a Dostoyevsky novel for 1 peso. For that, we needed De Keyzer's eyes in Cuba. Cuba, la lucha, Lannoo, p. Now it is Cuba's turn, at the pivotal moment between Communism and western Capitalism.
On 17 December , the American President Barack Obama announced in a speech that, after 55 years of enmity, he wanted to reach out a hand to Cuba, rather than push it over the edge. A few days later, De Keyzer landed in Havana; he stayed for three months. He captured the country at the pivotal moment between Communism and western Capitalism. Indeed, when political restraints are relaxed, the resilience of citizens really becomes clear.