buren (BE) – Clédat & Petitpierre (FR) – Mette Sterre (NL) – Julian Weber (DE)
Since 2017, Lustwarande has enriched the annual exhibition with manifestations of ephemeral sculpture, forms of sculpture, which are limited in time and which vary in duration from a few minutes to a few hours, but of which nothing is left in the end. These temporary works, called event sculptures, are presented under the title Brief Encounters. They are breathtaking and unforgettable.
In 2022 Brief Encounters took place for the fifth time, on two Sunday afternoons. On both afternoons, three artists/duos and collectives presented event sculptures, all but one specially made for Brief Encounters '22.
The curatorial duo of Chris Driessen, artistic director of Lustwarande, and Steven Vandervelden, director of STUK – House for Dance, Image and Sound and of the performance festival Playground, both in Louvain, was responsible for the selection of the participating artists. Their choice was based on presenting renowned artists for the first time in the Netherlands, on presenting up-and-coming talents and on inclusion.
Brief Encounters '22 #2 took place on Sunday 4 September. From 2pm, four event sculptures by buren (BE), Clédat & Petitpierre (FR), Mette Sterre (NL) and Julian Weber (DE) could be experienced. buren, Mette Sterre and Julian Weber created new works for Brief Encounters. Clédat & Petitpierre had their Dutch debut.
The new work by buren is a co-production with STUK – House for Dance, Image and Sound.
buren – SHOE/FARM: 7 means dinner for a breadwinner(2022)
buren is the name under which Melissa Mabesoone (b. Knokke, Belgium, 1988, lives in Brussels) and Oshin Albrecht (b. Bruges, Belgium, 1986, lives in Ghent) work. It is deliberately written with a lower-case ‘b’ because it refers to the verb büren from an essay by Heidegger, which means both ‘building’ and ‘inhabiting’. For Mabesoone and Albrecht, ‘buren’ refers to their collaboration and to the way their work relates to its surroundings. Since 2012, the artists have been exploring ideas around community, domesticity, living, gender, (art) history and neoliberal society. They approach these themes with humour and irony, depicting different realities from various angles.
For Brief Encounters ’22, buren have created the performance 7 means dinner for a breadwinner. This is the first ‘stop’ or episode of their project SHOE/FARM. This title refers to the duo’s personal histories. Mabesoone grew up on a farm where hard work was required around the clock, and the division of tasks was based largely on traditional male and female roles. Oshin’s parents had a shoe shop on the Belgian coast, and much of their clientele consisted of holidaymakers who were out for a stroll.
This project fits in with buren’s long-running investigation into the relationship between leisure and labour in different social classes in Western society and how this is represented in art history and popular media. buren looks specifically at roles and the balance of power within the past and future of leisure activities and work.
7 means dinner for a breadwinner takes place at a picnic table, where buren work around dinner time at the farmer’s table, singing work songs and toiling away like workhorses because they need to earn their daily bread, with habits, customs and specific sayings associated with farming life being milked and poured out again, along with ideas about class consciousness and class differences.
In an associative performance, the artists link personal memories to the history of leisure activities and work, the evolution of women’s work and the relationship between those in charge and their subordinates. De Oude Warande forms a playing field for addressing different working relationships, leisure pursuits and their representation.
concept, costumes, props & performance
Melissa Mabesoone & Oshin Albrecht
7 means dinner for a breadwinner is a co-production with STUK – House for Dance, Image and Sound, Louvain
Clédat & Petitpierre – Les Baigneurs (2017–2022)
Two life-sized dolls in striped bathing suits, one green and white, the other red and white. Two big blue beach towels and a yellow beachball. This is the setting of Les Baigneurs (The Bathers), the performance of Coco Petitpierre (b. Paris, 1966) and Yvan Clédat (b. Paris, 1966, both live in Drancy, France), who, in addition to being artists, are also active as scenographers and costume designers.
Clédat & Petitpierre create work at the intersection of sculpture and performance, often in the public space, searching in their ‘activated works’ for a balance between sculpture and living creatures. Sculpture has always had to do with the body, from the historical relationship to the model depicted, but also based on the timeless relationship of the viewer’s body to the work.
Art history has countless examples of works depicting bathers. This performance was inspired by Pablo Picasso’s Baigneuses au ballon (1928). It is part of a series of small paintings that Picasso made during a family holiday by the sea, depicting an everyday activity: playing on the beach with a ball. But while Picasso’s figures, with their oversized arms and legs, look a little scary, Clédat & Petitpierre’s bathers are more comical and cute, with their plump limbs of folded tulle. During the performance, the figures pretend to be having fun on a beach in the warm sunshine. Lazing, sunbathing, throwing the ball. It is as if the characters have been transposed from European art history to the three-dimensional space of De Oude Warande, where they come to life before the eyes of the visitors, in the form of a cheerful summertime scene. It is familiar and humorous and yet at the same time alienating, as if everyday life were being given a surreal but poetic twist, and it is typical of Clédat & Petitpierre’s practice.
concept, costumes, props & performance
Yvan Clédat & Coco Petitpierre
Mette Sterre – mater matters materials (2022)
Mette Sterre (b. Delft, Netherlands, 1983, lives in Amsterdam) works on the boundary between theatre and live art, making sculptural body masks that completely cover the wearer. These masks are handmade from organic and artificial materials such as ceramics or rubber and are unpleasant to wear. They are heavy, hot, hard to see through and to move in. Sterreexperiments with robotics and uses prostheses that function as extensions of the body. She often sews body parts together. This results in hybrid creatures that can look grotesque or horrific. They are somewhere between animate figures and inanimate objects, ageless and neither male nor female.
With her work, Sterre investigates what changing the body means for the perception of the other and herself. Spectators have to relate to an unknown image of a human. They are encouraged to reflect upon the stigmatisation of ‘the other’ and the social construction of identity. The wearer of Sterre’s costumes, often herself, is forced to adopt a different way of moving and relating to the spectators. This creates space to think about what a human being can be and how to expand the boundaries of what humans are.
At the same time, by so thoroughly distorting the familiar human figure and restricting its freedom of movement, she criticises the anthropocentric idea that humans are at the top of the ladder of life on Earth.
For Brief Encounters, Sterre developed a performance around, on and in the pond, that exaggerates the contrast between the hysterical consumer society and the notion of being in harmony with nature, through karaoke, dance, scenery, performance and music. In the peaceful surroundings of De Oude Warande, Sterre created various tableaux vivants based around the idolatry of objects collected via deadstock stores and auction websites. Sterre pokes fun at the way in which these supposedly desirable objects determine identity, power and status in our society and how people become lost in their own surreal fiction.
concept, body-masks, props
Julian Weber – Broke (2022)
Choreographer, dancer and visual artist Julian Weber (1986) makes sculptural, scenographic performances in which their own body, music and materials such as clay and aluminium play an important role. The stage and the exhibition space flow seamlessly together in the work of Weber, whose performances are often created in collaboration with other artists from different disciplines.
At De Oude Warande, the public is taken on an excursion through the park. Their guide constantly changes roles, professions and gender, transforming from human into animal, from hunter into prey, from dominant into submissive and from rational thinker into intuitive doer.
At various locations in the park the tour stops, where Weber is dancing, interacting with the environment, while introducing potential histories of the site - blurring facts and fiction.
On their tour through the park, Weber is accompanied by a musician, a drummer on a mobile stage, which Weber drags behind them. In equine terminology, ‘broke’ refers to a horse that has been trained to be ridden or to pull a vehicle. The musician drums at the various stopping points and also while moving. With the mobile stage, Weber is referring to the globalised (art) world, in which people and things are constantly dragged around the world. It is at the same time a symbolic reference to the need to stretch the boundaries of sculpture.
Weber deals with philosophical movements, which deny the privilege of human existence over non-human entities. They play with these concepts in order to blur the boundaries between object and subject, as well as the inherent stereotypical hierarchies, in order to establish a more horizontal and reciprocal exchange between human and non-human bodies.
Further Weber is interested in the way in which artistic productions represent people and their social and gender identities. The work questions what our society considers as normal and abnormal and how concepts of natural and artificial are constructed. Anything that deviates from the so called norm is often seen as incomprehensible or even threatening and must be kept at a distance. With their fluid character, Weber undermines this unnatural, rigid categorisations.
concept, costumes, props
Ángela Muñoz Martínez
Ángela Muñoz Martínez