Yvonne & Koen’s story begins in Art Basel, temple of contemporary art.Ours begins in an installation made by Alice Nikolaeva in the shape of an orthodox church.
Story of artists Yvonne De Grazia & Koen Wastijn and their encounter with the work of young Russian artist.
Yvonne went to art school in the early 90’s. Metz, Saarbrücken, Milan, Nancy, she discovered cities but also met people who shape the beginning of her career. Like, her professor of that time, French-German Artist Jochen Gerz
Yvonne – I took part with him and a group of students in the realization of the Monument against racism in Saarbrücken, Germany. During the night we removed cobblestones from the promenade leading to the former regional Nazi administration. We engraved the names of German Jewish Cemeteries into the stones before returning to where they had been taken. The stones were placed with the inscription facing down so that the square remained unchanged and the monument invisible. In my opinion the postwar art cannot be visual, there must be a commitment.
I’m not interested about Baby-Sitting in the art!
My encounter with German artist Ingo Günther was also important. He’s been living for many years in USA and I met him while visiting his studio. He told me something that I remember well: “In art, I’m not interested in Baby-Sitting!”.
Of course, there are a lot of others encounters, big names, poets, musicians, friends but those two I remember very well.
Yvonne & Koen knew East Germany before the fall of the wall and they experienced those two different worlds. That is one of the reasons why the work of Alice Nikolaeva has piqued their interest and they decided to buy the piece “Ice Cream”
Koen – In Alice’s work, I like the reference to Orthodox Church. She presents a kind of 3D plan of a missing space.
Yvonne – I got pictures taken in Bulgarian playground. I identified with Alice’s structures that reminded me these pictures from the Soviet Union Period. I’ve a real interest in the Soviet aesthetics and the pictures that we could find during USSR.
Yvonne shows us notebooks from the East Germany in which she pasted satellite pictures.
"I’m fascinated by the spying and terrorism world"
Yvonne – “I’m fascinated by the spying and terrorism world and wanted to carry out a project with satellite pictures…”
That is the starting point of “Beyrouth Series” a 1998 project. She will offer us a negative
Yvonnes – I was captivated by the pictures of holiday catalogues. A true symbol of territory conquest. So, I started to film those catalogues and then I took pictures of the movie that appeared on my small Sony Screen.
The result looks like a satellite picture taken in a war zone. We can almost feel that quiet moment previous a bombing.
This is the turn of Koen to present us one of the many projects he has done. He leaves us and come back with a part of a molding and tell us:
it is important to approach an exhibition from multiple perspectives
Koen – This is one of the trials conducted during an exhibition that I did in Australia, the woodworms’ mountains. It was in 2005 and I was travelling to Sydney to meet my new gallery. The gallerists traditionally organized a two months road trip across Australia to get to know their new artists. The trip ended in the North of Australia where I met famous Aboriginal painters. There, I went looking for woodworms’ mountains, impressive constructions that can measure sometimes several meters and built by those insects organized in perfect society.
Back in Sidney, I formed a team, together with a sculptor and we went to mold the mountains. The aboriginal populations gave their agreement on the project. It took more than a month to mold the mountains, some of them reaching height more than 2,5 meter height.
Then the mold has been transported to the gallery in Sidney where we made the sculpture during the exhibition. The show was accompanied by a video installation because, in my view, it is important to approach an exhibition from multiple perspectives, to tell a story.
The molds have been shipped to the port of Antwerp and the project has been exhibited in MAAC.
For Koen, a lot of encounters, travels, adventures and discoveries too but unfortunately we don’t have enough time to tell you more…
Pictures: Angélique Legeleux