The two artists currently in our residency house

Following the residencies of David Widart, Clément Montagne, Rachel Monosov and Lisa Lapierre, the third cycle of our residency project for emerging Belgian-based artists, Dusangneuf Osangsett, began at the start of the month, welcoming artists Rachel Gruitjers (NL, 1992) and Stef Renard (BE, 1991). We sat down with the two artists to find out what their expectations were for their stay, which ends on Wednesday 31st August.

Can you tell us a bit about your work?

Rachel: Through photography, film and installations I create works based memories from my childhood home, which I then link to the depiction of domestic settings in old Hollywood, during the 1930’s-1950’s era.

Stef: The main media I use are photography and film as well. Via everyday objects such as vinyl records and pop culture memorabilia I delve into subcultures, or more specifically, a small town view on subcultures. Where I’m from is quite provincial, we don’t have this urban vibe, there’s rather a distant view on city life.

What encouraged you to apply for the residency?

Rachel: After I graduated I knew I wanted to focus on doing residencies, but I was quite firm on wanting to participate in one in a domestic space, such as a home. It relates to my work and my subjects, one of them being the traces people leave in their houses. So this place, it’s amazing, the tiles in the kitchen, some inscriptions on the walls, it’s immediately clear that people used to live here, and that the house boasts a lot of memories.

Stef: What really interests me is the feedback you get here from weekly experts that pay a visit to the house. I was also looking for a space to finish a couple of projects, or to bring them together in order to evolve and grow more mature in my artistic process.

What really interests me is the feedback you get here from weekly experts that pay a visit to the house.

How do you plan on using the next three months? Is there anything specific you’re working on?

Rachel: I have an upcoming exhibition, so I have to work really fast at the moment, I’m producing a lot of work. One of the things is that I’m on a diet. I’m focusing on three old Hollywood stars who were known for their domestic trades back in the day, Marlene Dietrich, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. I photograph myself as them, and while it’s very clear on the images that I am not them, it’s an interesting thing to play with, this suspension of disbelief. Creating illusions is so typically Hollywood. That’s why I’m letting my hair and my nails grow, and why I’m losing weight. Next to that I’m working on a series of installations based on my own childhood memories. My mother died when I was very young, and she was laid out on my parents’ bed. I’m trying to recreate the scene by turning it into a sort of film set. Next to that I’m working on a series of installations, based on a memory I have of me washing my hair when suddenly someone knocked on the bathroom door, telling me to hurry up. I had no idea what was going on, but apparently my father was having his first heart attack.  For the past couple of weeks I’ve been collecting my hair from the shower drain, which I then turn into small sculptures using transparant silicone.

Stef: It’s a big challenge, but I would like to produce a movie during these months. I’ve been planning it for two years now, it’s about a school here in Brussels called Peter Pan, in a modernist building from the 60’s. In it I want to research the dialectic between the Peter Pan ideology of never having to grow up and the process of going to school, to learn and to grow old. My earlier work was based around a hardcore band from the US that proclaim that you have to stay young forever, and to spread this ideology they used propaganda zines. I still have to figure out whether or not I’m going to merge these elements with the Peter Pan project, but I hope to figure it out during my stay here.

What do you hope to get out of the residency? What would you consider to be a success?

Rachel: I’d love to meet new people, especially like-minded ones. To have my own little growing community, in a way. But I don’t have a fixed goal, the process is way more important than the endline.

Stef: I hope to finish some works, but it’s not a fixed goal either. Some things, such as the film, should really be finished. Mostly I want to figure out how I can merge different projects, see how they fit together, if it works.

I don’t have a fixed goal, the process is way more important than the endline.

How are you going to use the residency space?

Rachel: I will be living here as much as possible, definitely. I’m convinced that the next months are going to be intense. Working, trying to figure things out, getting feedback. I’d like to get to know the neighbourhood, and the city. One of the first things on my to-do list is getting a subscription to Cinematek.

Stef: I’d love to be here as much as possible. At the moment I have a job in Genk, it will be a kind of half-and-half thing for me. I don’t have a lot of space back home in Limburg, so I’ll be able to make good use of the large house here in Brussels. A possibility to reflect, finally. To produce more work, to try new things, it will be nice to have all this space here to use.