The Belgian Pavilion in Venice was thoroughly restored during the winter and is in excellent condition for the exhibition. Its symmetrical architecture, harmonious spatial proportions and attractive lighting from above make the Pavilion an ideal setting for Braeckman’s work. No scenography or specific spatial division will therefore be required for the exhibition: the design of the show will be simple, in a sense, with the focus on the artworks. Some twenty photographic works will be displayed, all of them black and white prints on baryta paper, created in Dirk Braeckman’s darkroom. The unique analogue prints are based on negatives, with the artist sometimes using the same one to make several images. Most of the new works are a monumental 180 x 120 cm in size.
Dirk Braeckman: ‘There will be a total of around twenty artworks in the show – analogue prints that I have made in my darkroom in recent months. They are mostly new shots, together with a number of negatives from the archive I have built up over the past few years and images from which I hadn’t yet made any prints. The work for me is created in the darkroom. That’s the moment when I give it a title and date. Most photographers do so at the moment of shooting.’
The vast majority of the works are new, although a few older ones will also be included to help place Braeckman’s practice in context. Eva Wittocx: ‘You can view Dirk Braeckman’s work as an ongoing entity. He never works in extensive series or according to specific themes. All the same, there are certain recurring subjects, including interiors, human figures, rephotographing existing images, the nude and details of spaces. These themes will also appear in the new works for the Belgian Pavilion.’
The spatial arrangement of the works will be developed in situ, for which the team will allow ample time. Work on setting up the exhibition will begin in Venice on 22 March. There is no fixed plan: the interaction between the different images will be explored in the Pavilion itself, where the final arrangement will emerge.
Sven Gatz, Flemish Culture Minister: ‘I was delighted last summer when the jury chose Dirk Braeckman, whose highly individual work I greatly admire. I visited him a month ago at his studio in Ghent, where he told me how his oeuvre has evolved and outlined the exhibition at the Belgian Pavilion. The way Braeckman works and uses photography is unique and utterly fascinating. I am convinced that, together with curator Eva Wittocx, he will stage a strong exhibition in Venice with images that will impress the many visitors. For my part, I’m very much looking forward to the opening in May.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a new publication with a selective overview of Dirk Braeckman’s practice, including the new work for Venice. It includes texts by Hubertus von Amelunxen, Douglas Fogle and Eva Wittocx, and will be published by Walther König.
After Venice, there will be simultaneous exhibitions of Dirk Braeckman’s work in Belgium at M Museum in Leuven and BOZAR in Brussels, where the new works will be among the pieces shown. These will run from early February to the end of April 2018.
To mark the Venice Biennale, Kunstenpunt and the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, in collaboration with M Museum in Leuven, the Fotomuseum in Antwerp and BOZAR in Brussels, are producing an online publication on photography in the contemporary Belgian visual arts. Its aim is to provide more attention and international visibility to artists active in Belgium, who use the medium of photography in their visual art practice. The publication is intended as promotional material aimed at foreign professionals during and after the Venice Biennale.
Save the date
The 57th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, opens on 13 May 2017 and runs until 26 November 2017. The Belgian Pavilion will be officially opened on 10 May 2017. Press days will be held on 10, 11 and 12 May 2017, 10.00 am >< 6.00 pm.
Information on press accreditations can be found here.
Dirk Braeckman, Belgian Pavilion, La Biennale di Venezia
Commissioner: Sven Gatz, Flemish Minister for Culture, Media, Youth and Brussels
Curator: Eva Wittocx
Organizing institution: M Museum Leuven
Principal sponsors: Nationale Loterij, Fondation Willame
Sponsors: Filliers Dry Gin 28, Friends of the Belgian Pavilion, IC Verzekeringen/Assurances
Partners: Centre for Fine Arts (BOZAR) Brussels, KU Leuven, STUK Leuven, Kunstenpunt, Zeno X Gallery Antwerp