Seven Belgian-based artists to keep on your radar (Part 1)

In the last few years, Belgium – and Brussels more specifically – has grown into a global artistic hub. Galleries, collectors, museums, non-profits, private collections and artist-run spaces have all, it seems, converged to create one of the most exiting and dynamic contemporary art eco-systems in a while. As a result, there’s never been a better time to be an artist in the country. Here are seven that have spiked our interest.

The full list of artists and interviews can be found in the April-May edition of the magazine, which hits streets nation-wide this week.

Anouchka Oler (1988)

Born in Saint Malo, France, Anouchka lives and works in Brussels.

oler_nothing remains capture nothing 2 copyNothing remains, Only us, Video 10′- 2015, Courtesy of the artist.

How would you describe your practice, and your approach? 

My practice brings together sculpture, writing and performance within videos in which the narratives often focus on the encounter between the characters that I create and a disruptive material environment. Objects refuse to function as planned and therefore it leads the characters to ponder about how this refusal to co-operate will affect their lives. The objects become potent actors and join the other investigators in questioning what is assigned to them, the circulation of power in the construction of the self through an exploration of feeling, caring, loving and living together.

Friends, relatives, sculptures, objects or myself enact these characters. None of us are really able to act that much, so what we perform is never too far from what we are. This conveys a peculiar sensitivity, something close to an idea of tenderness as well as a playful note.

What recent work of yours best exemplifies what you do? 

Last year I made a video called “Nothing remains Only Us” that presents a man recalling a community he was once part of. The people living in this community aimed to inhabit a shared house together in a way that will disturb their way of living and therefore create new means of experiencing and acting in society. The only rule which is said to have existed and been stressed was to produce a new object a day “which implied as a tacit agreement to break one thing beforehand.” It addresses what relations and ways to inhabit the world can material empowerment invent.

If you had one message for art students, what would it be? 

Don’t take advice from strangers would be one of them.

Stine Sampers (1993)

Stine lives and works in Ghent.

Gesture, Visual Diary, Ghent, 2015.

How would you describe your practice, and your approach? 

My practice and approach are hardly something I think about. Sometimes, when people at school (Kask Drama, Ghent) make me write about it, yes, but to me it just feels organic, not like something I decided to pursue and am now consciously building towards. I live with the work I do and the things I dream of, life and work are so very entwined. The only thing I do is not seeing life and work as two completely separate things and allowing myself to have certain obsessions.

What recent work of yours best exemplifies what you do? 

Hard to say, since I’m trying to combine my visual work with my performance/theatre one. Right now I’m following different tracks which I would love to combine some day.

What are you currently working on? 

I am just starting the creation process for a new piece I’m doing together with violinist Doppe Vanhellemont and pianist Isaak Duerinck based on music by Shostakovich.

If you had a message for art students, what would it be? 

It’s weird to answer this one as I’m an art student myself, but i’ve said this before to people: allow yourself your obsession and passion and surround yourself with others who give you time and space to do so.