A Room of Bebe’s Own

A functional replica of the BebeBooks studio as a refuge within NW

According to Virginia Woolf, writing fiction requires two essentials: money and a room to oneself. In A Room of Bebe’s Own, the queer art collective Bebe Books sets up a functional replica of its studio within NW. This space functions as a residency, a sanctuary, and a symbol of the underlying tension between art institutions, artists, and the concealed labour behind artistic practice.

“A Room of Bebe’s Own” is a functional replica of Bebe Books’ studio in Ghent, situated within Netwerk Aalst. This space is autonomously operated by the collective with the institution’s financial support. It will facilitate the symbiosis between both entities by accommodating various collaborative activities. Bebe Books’ constituents will occupy the space on a weekly basis to perform their works as a resident. Equipped with basic printing facilities operated by the collective, the space will also function as an in-house publishing house for Netwerk Aalst. When not in use by Bebe Books’ constituents, the collective will curate initiatives that can utilize and benefit from the infrastructure.

An important feature of the space is its opacity; ambiguously placed between an open space and an enclosed room, Bebe Books maintains full agency over whether the space serves as a queer safe space for its constituents or as a public arena for the local audience. This strategic ambiguity affords Bebe Books to position itself as an intimate collaborator yet not a subordinate employee of Netwerk Aalst.

As an independent entity working alongside established institutions, the collective’s Ghent studio is where most administrative and emotional labors occur. These works are often unremunerated and invisible when Bebe Books’ works are presented in such contexts. “A Room of Bebe’s Own” is the collectives’ attempt to bridge the gap between this crucial yet marginalized labor and their public representation.