Studio Aalst

how we continue to support artists during the build, in the abscence of our own physical space

Studio Aalst is a project by Netwerk Aalst that runs in 2022 and 2023, during and after the renovation works. We continue to support artists and offer them the city of Aalst and the accompanying challenges as a context. Even if we can’t provide them a physical space to develop or exhibit their art.

Studio Aalst currently includes an artist duo and two artists that will develop their own pathway for two years. Netwerk will observe these pathways and will see, together with the artists, how these pathways evolve. Each artist chooses how their work will be visible, depending on the need for it within their work and its development.

The thing that connects the artists is simple: Aalst. In addition, they will, each in their own way, deal with themes that recur within Netwerk Aalst.

The artists and artist duo that will be developing their pathway during Studio Aalst are:

  •  Federico Protto and Myriam Van Imschoot
  • Melissa Mabesoone
  • Juan Pablo Plazas 

Federico protto and myriam van imschoot

Their project, ‘High as a Kite’, wants to explore and stimulate kids’ vocal and listening skills. The investigation includes a variety of experiences, inspirational visits and a made-up framework of references that stem from their practices in sound, music and textile. In 2022, Federico and Myriam already had two residencies in Netwerk Aalst, in the second of which they worked together with REKKER during their stop-motion camps.

The artist duo, together with the children, will develop tools that help children to expand their awareness and appreciation of all kinds of ‘sound’ in their living environment. They compare sound with a kite: it travels further than what ears or recording devices can capture. Federico and Myriam believe that a bigger awareness of the sound world contributes to a better development of various skills such as attentiveness, concentration, and much more.

Melissa Mabesoone

During the production of her film ‘Hormonal Gland’, Melissa searches for protagonists, interlocutors, settings… and takes Aalst and its practice with her through themes such as reproduction, sexuality, consumerism, animal suffering and the fishing industry. A cocktail of science, fantasy and desire that navigates from ethics to business to uncharted waters and back. Things might get fishy.

‘Hormonal Gland’ is a humorous and critical fiction film about the various bodies present in and around ethical shrimp farms, from a hydrofeminist lens. Hydrofeminism is about the solidarity between watery selves, about bodies of water as Elena Lundquist Ortiz says. “Today, we see acidifying oceans, rising sea levels, dying coral reefs and polluted ground water. Hydrofeminism shows that we are all involved in this through aquatic interactions and circulations. Water flows through bodies, species and materialities, connecting them for the good or the bad.”

Juan Pablo Plazas

Juan Pablo’s practice is about encounters with people, situations, dynamics and the resulting stories. The nature of his work has a high performative character. Apart from his performances, his static work also has this performative character: his sculptures, drawings, etc. are also carriers of stories and sometimes literally take over the role of storyteller.

The stories he tells have often been acquired in an earlier exchange and then reintroduced into the world in an adapted form. Juan Pablo Plazas wants to focus his research in Aalst on the skate community on the one hand, and on the people from the music scene who found shelter in Netwerk in the eighties and nineties and who had links with now-famous and celebrated bands from the punk and rock scene, on the other hand. According to a popular myth, everyone in the world can be connected through six intermediaries. Curious to see where Juan Pablo’s web of appropriated stories takes us?

by Alexandra Colmenares

Photo by Alexandra Colmenares