The first edition of the Ballroom Project showcases selected pieces from eleven renowned galleries, brought together for an innovative artistic act during Antwerp Art Weekend, one of the main art events in town. More than an exhibition or fair, the Ballroom Project is a performance in itself, taking place in the Pekfabriek, an iconic space in Antwerp that hosted many legendary performances and parties. The Ballroom Project is an initiative of Ida Wollens (DMW Art Space) and Bart Vanderbiesen (Base-Alpha Gallery) and is curated by Yirka De Brucker.
For the project, likeminded galleries have been invited to come together in a space that radiates a distinctive ‘out-of-the-box’ impression. Galleries from The Netherlands, Brussels, Ghent and Antwerp meet with a dynamic energy to perform a collective waltz. The invited galleries share the fact that they work with artists who reflect on the condition humaine within the culture of our time. They promote art that is visually and intellectually stimulating in its exploration of the human relationship with – or the paradox between – the ontology of materiality and the archaeology of time and space.
The represented artists are interested both in the physical object and the nature of the meaning of objects, the ding an sich. Some works seem to connect the immaterial world with the reality of tangible objects.
The Ballroom Project not only gets its name from its location, but also from the fact that most of the works establish an embodied relation with the viewer and thus invite you to participate in the dance. Most of the artists who engage in this dance have in common that they approach their art in much the same way archaeologists do: looking at our culture, our habits and our objects with a critical eye, as if the now took place a thousand years ago.
This reflection on time implicates an absence. As Roland Barthes puts it in ‘A Lover’s Discourse’: Absence is lasting, I must bear with it. I will therefore manipulate it: turning the distortion of time back and forth, producing rhythm, opening the scene of language.
The artworks shown in the Ballroom Project manipulate an absence in a similar way as Barthes does with language. The works manipulate the absence through their materiality. The art object functions as a mediator between itself, the surrounding space and the human body. Through this interaction, an interrogation arises on the meaning of time in its relation to the object and the space. Another thread running through the exposition is humor, a certain irony and a playfulness awakened in what we could call a ‘contemporary surrealism’.
While the artists focus on the sculptural and the spatial in this exhibition, a lot of the works presented here are challenging the traditional expectations of a given medium or discipline.
Yirka De Brucker