Opening: Saturday 11 December
from 13:00 to 17:30
meeting the artists present (Nico Dockx, Laurence Petrone and Wim Nival)
short introduction by Stijn Coppejans
performance 'klankkkkkast' by Laurence Petrone
presentation of the GalleryBox 21/22 by Nico Dockx
The way in which information is stored over time is the subject of many studies and discussions. Especially in the current era where the amount of information in the world is increasing exponentially, the importance of archiving is often discussed. Concepts such as information-overload and information-stress are gradually becoming accepted, but at the same time almost everything is stored digitally, often without any selection.
The archive as a collection of important documents is the bearer of many fundamental aspects of our humanity. With the help of archival material, the balance of power, interests and even the spirit of the times from long ago can be reconstructed. For historians, archival documents are primary sources, but artists too are very active in using them as research material. Especially what an archive does not tell us, can appeal to our imagination. What falls between two chairs? What disappears in the folds of time? The method of storage and the selection criteria chosen sometimes say more than the preserved items themselves.
Rejects and liquidations.
After the rise of mass media, with newspapers and magazines appearing at a rate higher than they can be read, we are now also faced with the unstoppable digital waterfall. The work of Denmark, who has been building up a body of work with manipulated archive material since 1972, can be seen as a critique of this information overload and the production carousel that goes with it. Newspapers and magazines, in particular, have a very fleeting existence; they are put on and off in staggering quantities. The time and care that Denmark puts into his production process is in stark contrast to the compelling rhythm of the rotary presses. Both are unstoppable, but only the artist is above the ephemeral nature of existence.
Jan Henderikse can be linked to the same phenomenon in another way. For example, he brings together rejected or failed photographs from the time of disposable photography, so that the whole reflects the spirit of the age without further comment. It is disposable information that was nevertheless preserved. Objects like that are almost part of a permanent anthropological investigation by the artist. He often calls them 'rejects', materials that are bought with a great deal of love, and then rejected again with a great deal of unlove.
Static or dynamic?
One of the most frequently mentioned criticisms of archives is their static nature: "Once something goes into the archive, it's hard to get it out." Institutions have to deal with this and sometimes call on artists to come up with an answer. When artists are let loose on the problem, they shed new light on the matter and succeed in connecting the old with the new and in reincarnating dead letters. This gives rise to initiatives such as the installation 'Every Collection Hides Another Collection' by Nico Dockx in the Antwerp Provincial Building, in which the Province's hidden art collection has finally become publicly accessible.
Nico Dockx is constantly revitalising archive material. He expresses his fascination for archiving, inventory, memory, data management and information transfer in and through various media and methods. In the spring of this year, Coppejans Gallery commissioned him to make the second Gallery Box: a box for an archive that does not yet exist. This will be presented for the first time in this exhibition.
The sensuousness of the archive.
Another aspect that fascinates artists is the sensuousness of the archive. Materials and their properties such as weight, texture and patina always open new doors in the way to new creations. Bringing the word, as Laurence Petrone does in her artistic practice, cannot be separated from a support. The transition is always aural, visual or material linked to the thought being brought. Thus, the interest in what is preserved is always accompanied by care and attention for the material that carries it. Even when the preserved information is no longer relevant, the carrier often remains as an object. The constructions of Wim Nival come precisely from this fascination. He makes aesthetic objects with old materials that are used to measure, know and preserve. He assembles letters, archive documents, filing cabinets, writing instruments and rulers into new wholes that can exist in their own right.