The Absent Artist (part II)

Exposition, filmscreening and talk

Our first two-year episode has only just begun and we’re already preparing for a reshuffle. The Absent Artist, the exhibition we organised for Jozef Wouters, will take on a new form: Diederik Peeters, who made himself disappear so expertly at the opening, introduces Apparition of an Afterlife, a cinema-box/disappearance-box to the exhibition. We reposition some of the other works in the show.

The occasion also offers us the opportunity to examine one of our own blind spots. We realise that we are quite quick to use the word ‘local’; it is our intention after all to work with a connection to our own locality of Aalst. But does this locality actually exist and, if so, what are its defining qualities? How can we interact with our immediate environment? These are the kind of questions that artists ask themselves, too. In the coming months we will open a dialogue and go walkabout with our Protagonists and a number of ‘local’ and ‘non-local’ guests (see the problem?).

  Our first guest is Robin Vanbesien, who will present his book made to accompany his film Under These Words (Solidarity Athens 2016). He will also talk to Imogen Stidworthy about their shared artistic interests and themes.


7 pm – film screening: Under These Words (Solidarity Athens 2016) by Robin Vanbesien

Three actors are out and about in Athens, lending their ears to fellow citizens active in various solidarity organisations (a clinic, a pharmacy, a kitchen, a school). Based on the many conversations they have, we become familiar with these citizens’ vibrant, social imaginations.

Greek spoken, English and Dutch subtitles.


8:30 pm – book presentation: Solidarity Poiesis: I Will Come and Steal You and artist’s talk with Robin Vanbesien & Imogen Stidworthy

Solidarity Poiesis: I Will Come and Steal You delves into the multi-layered ideas and structures of citizens’ initiatives, such as pilot projects, self-sustainability and alternative forms of democracy. It arises from Robin Vanbesien’s ongoing research, in which he explores the imaginations of collective social practices (including citizens’ initiatives). Based on the notion of ‘solidarity poiesis’, Vanbesien investigates the capacity for unity between civil ‘activism’ and the creative process.   The research of Imogen Stidworthy, one of our Protagonists, is centred on a dialogue with people who express themselves by means of alternative forms of language. The focus of her work is on what happens in the gaps in language, and which meanings arise in the absence of language. If the language we speak determines how we experience ourselves, what do we risk by seeking its limits?   Robin Vanbesien and Imogen Stidworthy will enter into a discussion based on an interest in each other’s work and talk about where it overlaps.

This conversation will be held in English.


6 – 10 pm (ongoing) Nocturne The Absent Artist (an Exhibition for Jozef)

Two months after the opening of The Absent Artist (an Exhibition for Jozef), we will exhibit a new installation by Diederik Peeters and reorganise the navigation plan of the exhibition.

In 2078, dead people can resurrect as an 'apparition': a bio-mechanical head inhabited by the soul of the deceased. In this installation, a mechanical cinema uses a 19th century optical illusion and some misunderstandings about ventriloquist techniques, to depict the resurrection of Dead, the lead vocalist of a Norwegian black metal band. After Dead's suicide in 1991, he was diagnosed as suffering from Cotard's syndrome, a neurological disorder first described by Jules Cotard in 1878, the same year Thomas Edison invented the phonograph. By far the most distinguished symptom of the syndrome is the fact that patients intimately believe they are dead – or immortal, which paradoxically comes down to the same thing.

Apparition of an Afterlife brings back the dead with the aid of a mechanical cinema box and optical illusions from the 19th century in combination with number of techniques from the art of ventriloquism. An balancing act between scepticism and faith, illusion and disillusion.

Earlier in the evening, from 5 to 7 pm, Diederik Peeters will talk with Tobias Revell and Natalie Kane, the duo behind Haunted Machines, in La Bellone in Brussels.

CREDITS Apparition of an Afterlife

An installation by Diederik Peeters in close collaboration with Jérôme Dupraz & Koen Jansen (robotics), Henri-Emmanuel Doublier (light-design), Anna Czapski (artistic advice), Marion Le Guerroué (production management), Camillle Bono (logistics) and Laura Deschepper (administration). An associated production of SPIN and Amicale de Production, co-produced by Netwerk Aalst, in partnership with BUDA Kortrijk and supported by the Flemish Community.