LUCA’s Wim Lambrecht talks curating and getting recent exhibition ‘Tabula Rasa’ up and running. Running parallel to ‘Dark Chambers/Donkere Kamers’ also showing at Gent’s Dr. Guislain Museum, ‘Tabula Rasa’ showcases a collection of work from various artists. Hinging on the gap between the now and what came before, it forces us to reflect on the melancholia and transience that comes along with being human. In a myopically-searching-for-the-next-it-thing society, the exhibit, as Lambrechts hints, confronts the audience with putting a hold on the upgrades, the high-speed everything and engaging with the surrounding physicality, in real life.
The term [tabula rasa] nowadays refers to the idea of starting with a blank page, starting from scratch. The contemporary artworks in the exhibition connect melancholia with volatility, the human memory and the dynamics between old and new. The white chambers of ‘Tabula Rasa’ connect and simultaneously contrast with ‘Dark Chambers / Donkere Kamers’ and put the exposition into a new perspective.Ronny Delrue Lost Memory, 2006. Fotoprint
Can you tell us something about the exhibition? What were its starting points? Did you have any pre-conceived intentions or directions you wanted to give the show? Where did the research initially take you?
Some years ago we organised a three-day symposium ‘I Love Melancholy’ in Leuven at STUK, Museum M and OPEK. As an answer to the former symposium there will be a new symposium ‘I Hate Melancholy,’ on the 8th of May in the Museum Dr. Guislain. During the preparations of the Symposium, with authors, actors, directors and researchers, I had the idea to install a rather personal exhibition related to melancholy. I knew that the Museum Dr. Guislain was planning the exhibition ‘Donkere Kamers’ and I wanted to give a refreshing response to this show based on the insights of our research and symposia.
How does the exhibition’s name help to evoke its content?
Between the past and the present there is a liminal field that is for me a kind of tabula rasa; pulsing new forms without losing the awareness of memory. The image of the past that we have in our memory is always a present image that gives the memory its specific meaning.Philip Van Isacker, Dialectisch, 1991. Steel
As a curator, how important is your relationship with the exhibited artist?
There is a huge difference between a group show and a solo show in that respect. In a group show, I focus on the works and how they relate to each other, whereas a solo becomes a kind of portrait of that artist, so the artist is central for me too. Both are different ways of telling a story, and my relationship to the artists differs as well, depending on the concept. The process of studio visits, talks and viewing unfinished works gives me a lot of energy and fills me with respect towards the artists’ slow labour.Nel Verbeke’s Embrace Melancholy, A. van Campenhout’s Zonder Titel No.1, and Ellen Schroven’s onze jours >
From research to scenography, can you discuss the various different people involved in the show?
There are so many people involved. In the beginning it is a very intimate process of reading, seeing, doubting and selecting art works. Once the motive becomes clear and the selection of artworks is made, I begin to regularly visit the exhibition place, where the audience will encounter the show. The space, the architecture, the light, the history are very important for me in deciding how to adapt the concept of the show to its visible installment. When I have a kind of scenography in my mind; I start to explore its possibilities with my assistants. Working with people is not only addictive for me, it’s a process of building up respect.Margarita Maximova San Sperate, 2013. Single screen video, 3min56sec, special edition: aspect ratio 4:3
What do you hope viewers will get from visiting the show?
Visiting shows takes time, it requires stretching the mind and challenging new horizons. Even the way to and from the show feeds the memory. Stepping away from Google and becoming part of the physical environment is very important.Nel Verbeke Embrace Melancholy, 2013. A rasp / a mirror >
As a curator, how do you select the artists whom you’d like to exhibit? Would you say your shows all have somewhat of a common denominator to them?
Every show has its own conditions, its own limitations. However, somehow you can see a kind of common signature in them, even though every show is a different assignment for me. It’s like making a Western, making a horror flick or even a musical: they all require a different approach, but the same amount of attention. I really dislike to play it safe. Trail and error are in my blood. Every show is a challenge to try and fail, a legitimation to explore all kinds of artists. It’s an amazing period these days, so intense!Marc De Blieck’s Museum, Denmark, Philip Van Isacker’s Dialectisch, Steel Lucas Devriendt’s Black Plastic and Hannelore Van Dijck’s Untitled. Tabula Rasa Museum Dr. Guislain, Gent Until 24th of May, 2015 museumdrguislain.be For more information on the symposium ‘I Hate Melancholia’, click here. Photo credits: Bliki, Thijs. ‘Tabula Rasa,’ Museum Dr. Guislain, 2015.