Ištvan Išt Huzjan at PROYECTOSMONCLOVA

Gepubliceerd op: 25 April 2019

Measuring a space with one’s footsteps, and immortalising that walk in cement or plaster, sweeping clean the entire gutter of 5th Avenue with a dustpan and brush, or walking along the boundary of the outskirts of Brussels dressed in a costume in the colours of the Belgian flag: these are just a few of the performances Ištvan Išt Huzjan (°1981, Ljubljana, Slovenia, lives and works in Brussels and Ljubljana) has carried out to date. On the occasion of his solo presentation in the Mexican gallery  PROYECTOSMONCLOVA, we sought out the artist in the centre of Brussels.  

Anne-Marie POELS 

Ištvan Išt Huzjan is busy: late February he was awarded the Opening Award, the prize for best solo exhibition at ARCO Madrid, and when we catch up with him he is doing colour tests for his next exhibition at Gaep in Bucharest, after which he is due to return to Brussels for his presentation at Art Brussels. 

Your work is grounded in performance art.  

Ištvan Išt Huzjan: “Yes, that allows me to position myself in relation to a historical context. For an exhibition at James Gallery on 5th Avenue in NYC, for instance, I completely cleaned the gutter of that avenue in ‘Daily Chores on 5th Avenue’. Among the places I passed was the museum mile; I cleaned up in front of the MET and the Guggenheim, MoMA, the New York Public Library, Trump Tower – Trump had just taken the oath two weeks earlier –, the Empire State Building, Washington Square Park where all the minimalists used to live... I was passing close to all this history, and in so doing I positioned myself in relation to all that history too. And in so doing I am also referring to other artists who already put forward cleaning as a performative act, like Mierle Laderman Ukeles who cleaned the museum floor, or Marina Abramovic who scrubbed bones.” 

 

But it’s not just the performances.  

Huzjan: “No, I process them in three ways. I document them in a series that I call ‘Photograph and text’. Those photographs are always black and white, because in that way they automatically refer to something that happened in the past, and obtain a certain uniformity that makes them resemble each other more. And the text describes what happened. I additionally make a series of books that are called ‘Mera’ or ‘Measuring’ – because in those performances I am actually taking measurements. And for the rest I collect objects during the performances, which I later incorporate into sculptures. For example, a stick that I used as a walking stick and that I later recast in plaster with a mould.” 

Those walks, or the other performances, what drives you to do those? 

Huzjan: “All the ideas for my performances come from daily activities. We all do cleaning, all of us pay visits sometimes, we all fold up our socks once we have washed and dried them... If such an activity has a performative character and I see an artistic value in them, I will adopt it. But when I do a performance somewhere, I always take the broader political and historical context into account, as I did in NY. Or, last year, during A Performance Affair in Brussels, where I wandered along the regional boundary that makes Brussels into a kind of enclave in Flanders, dressed in a costume in the colours of the Belgian flag: that walk not only referred to the situation in Brussels itself, but also to my personal history in Ljubljana. During WWII that city was sealed off from the outside world by the Italians, because there were many partisans there. Each year on liberation day the inhabitants walk along a path that encircles the city to remember that history – I grew up with that.” 

What is your solo at Art Brussels going to look like?  

Huzjan: “At the fair I will be showing the third Mera, ‘Thank you all for coming’. That was a performance I did during my solo show ‘From metric to imperial’ in PROYECTOSMONCLOVA in Mexico-City. Because it was my first exhibition in Central America, I wanted to introduce myself during the opening by shaking the visitors’ hands – in total I must have shaken about a hundred hands. Tina Javornik photographed all those handshakes close-up and they ended up in the book. Purely visually, a kind of horizon occurs – the line as visual element does recur a lot in my work.  The 92 photographs are presented on the walls in three rows – of which the middle one is at my own eye-level. The book is just like ‘I. Mera’ and ‘II. Mera’, and will be laid on three tables that I have designed: they have slanting tabletops that are positioned in such a way that the public can have some privacy and can move around them.” 

You spoke of that horizon line, the visual aspect of the work. But there was also a conceptual context.   

Huzjan: “In ‘From metric to imperial’ in Mexico-City I was dealing with the shaking of hands and the horizon.  That was at a moment in time – we had already entered the era of the Trump administration – during which a heated discussion was underway between Mexico and the US (about the building of the wall and migrant access, amp). I am in other words making reference to a political situation.” 

A fair is a very specific environment. Are you able to sufficiently convey there what is happening during such a performance?    

Huzjan: “It helps of course that I have a solo show. In a group presentation -of the kind that is usually seen in an normal booth – the public is far less prone to be absorbed by work of this kind. But the beautiful thing about exhibiting at a fair – and people rarely speak about this – is that you have someone there, permanently, for a few days, who can explain everything to you.” 

“With this kind of presentation it is not my intention to question the fair format. We did that with Artists Club Coffre-Fort (an artists’ initiative that Huzjan founded together with Thibaut Espiau and Gregoire Motte, amp). In my opinion, good or bad places for art do not exist: sometimes a work can come entirely into its own at a fair, and sometimes a fair can be detrimental to it – but the same holds true for any art space; an artwork can also be ‘destroyed’ in a museum. It is simply a matter of keeping in mind for which type of space you are making your work.” 

Fotogalerij

Praktische Info

Ištvan Išt Huzjan at PROYECTOSMONCLOVA, Art Brussels booth C.20 

Book signing on Sun. 28 April at 2PM, Art Brussels booths C20/22 

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Measuring a space with one’s footsteps, and immortalising that walk in cement or plaster, sweeping clean the entire gutter of 5th Avenue with a dustpan and brush, or walking along the boundary of the outskirts of Brussels dressed in a costume in the colours of the Belgian flag: these are just a few of the performances Ištvan Išt Huzjan (°1981, Ljubljana, Slovenia, lives and works in Brussels and Ljubljana) has carried out to date. On the occasion of his solo presentation in the Mexican gallery  PROYECTOSMONCLOVA, we sought out the artist in the centre of Brussels.  

Anne-Marie POELS 

Ištvan Išt Huzjan is busy: late February he was awarded the Opening Award, the prize for best solo exhibition at ARCO Madrid, and when we catch up with him he is doing colour tests for his next exhibition at Gaep in Bucharest, after which he is due to return to Brussels for his presentation at Art Brussels. 

Your work is grounded in performance art.  

Ištvan Išt Huzjan: “Yes, that allows me to position myself in relation to a historical context. For an exhibition at James Gallery on 5th Avenue in NYC, for instance, I completely cleaned the gutter of that avenue in ‘Daily Chores on 5th Avenue’. Among the places I passed was the museum mile; I cleaned up in front of the MET and the Guggenheim, MoMA, the New York Public Library, Trump Tower – Trump had just taken the oath two weeks earlier –, the Empire State Building, Washington Square Park where all the minimalists used to live... I was passing close to all this history, and in so doing I positioned myself in relation to all that history too. And in so doing I am also referring to other artists who already put forward cleaning as a performative act, like Mierle Laderman Ukeles who cleaned the museum floor, or Marina Abramovic who scrubbed bones.” 

 

But it’s not just the performances.  

Huzjan: “No, I process them in three ways. I document them in a series that I call ‘Photograph and text’. Those photographs are always black and white, because in that way they automatically refer to something that happened in the past, and obtain a certain uniformity that makes them resemble each other more. And the text describes what happened. I additionally make a series of books that are called ‘Mera’ or ‘Measuring’ – because in those performances I am actually taking measurements. And for the rest I collect objects during the performances, which I later incorporate into sculptures. For example, a stick that I used as a walking stick and that I later recast in plaster with a mould.” 

Those walks, or the other performances, what drives you to do those? 

Huzjan: “All the ideas for my performances come from daily activities. We all do cleaning, all of us pay visits sometimes, we all fold up our socks once we have washed and dried them... If such an activity has a performative character and I see an artistic value in them, I will adopt it. But when I do a performance somewhere, I always take the broader political and historical context into account, as I did in NY. Or, last year, during A Performance Affair in Brussels, where I wandered along the regional boundary that makes Brussels into a kind of enclave in Flanders, dressed in a costume in the colours of the Belgian flag: that walk not only referred to the situation in Brussels itself, but also to my personal history in Ljubljana. During WWII that city was sealed off from the outside world by the Italians, because there were many partisans there. Each year on liberation day the inhabitants walk along a path that encircles the city to remember that history – I grew up with that.” 

What is your solo at Art Brussels going to look like?  

Huzjan: “At the fair I will be showing the third Mera, ‘Thank you all for coming’. That was a performance I did during my solo show ‘From metric to imperial’ in PROYECTOSMONCLOVA in Mexico-City. Because it was my first exhibition in Central America, I wanted to introduce myself during the opening by shaking the visitors’ hands – in total I must have shaken about a hundred hands. Tina Javornik photographed all those handshakes close-up and they ended up in the book. Purely visually, a kind of horizon occurs – the line as visual element does recur a lot in my work.  The 92 photographs are presented on the walls in three rows – of which the middle one is at my own eye-level. The book is just like ‘I. Mera’ and ‘II. Mera’, and will be laid on three tables that I have designed: they have slanting tabletops that are positioned in such a way that the public can have some privacy and can move around them.” 

You spoke of that horizon line, the visual aspect of the work. But there was also a conceptual context.   

Huzjan: “In ‘From metric to imperial’ in Mexico-City I was dealing with the shaking of hands and the horizon.  That was at a moment in time – we had already entered the era of the Trump administration – during which a heated discussion was underway between Mexico and the US (about the building of the wall and migrant access, amp). I am in other words making reference to a political situation.” 

A fair is a very specific environment. Are you able to sufficiently convey there what is happening during such a performance?    

Huzjan: “It helps of course that I have a solo show. In a group presentation -of the kind that is usually seen in an normal booth – the public is far less prone to be absorbed by work of this kind. But the beautiful thing about exhibiting at a fair – and people rarely speak about this – is that you have someone there, permanently, for a few days, who can explain everything to you.” 

“With this kind of presentation it is not my intention to question the fair format. We did that with Artists Club Coffre-Fort (an artists’ initiative that Huzjan founded together with Thibaut Espiau and Gregoire Motte, amp). In my opinion, good or bad places for art do not exist: sometimes a work can come entirely into its own at a fair, and sometimes a fair can be detrimental to it – but the same holds true for any art space; an artwork can also be ‘destroyed’ in a museum. It is simply a matter of keeping in mind for which type of space you are making your work.” 

[cnt_info] =>

Ištvan Išt Huzjan at PROYECTOSMONCLOVA, Art Brussels booth C.20 

Book signing on Sun. 28 April at 2PM, Art Brussels booths C20/22 

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“Je pense que j’ai plus de testostérones que beaucoup d’hommes.” Les mots de Liliane Vertessen sont bien pesés. Sa présentation solo en rouge et noir à Zwart Huis dans la section ‘Rediscovery’ montre des œuvres qui l’ont rendue célèbre dans les années 80 : des autoportraits sexy où elle apparaît enveloppée dans un néon avec le mot ‘lust’ ou ‘punk’, mais aussi une sculpture miroir intitulée ‘See and think about it’. Des œuvres témoignant d’un certain esprit critique et d’une bonne dose d’énergie.  

Christine VUEGEN 

Le public international, en particulier les jeunes générations, a sans doute oublié sa pratique artistique d’avant-garde. Liliane Vertessen (°1952, Leopoldsburg, vit à Heusden-Zolder) raconte dans le catalogue de ‘A Love Supreme’, la grande exposition que lui a consacrée le Musée de la Photographie de Charleroi l’année dernière, comment tout a commencé à l’enfance et évoque ses apparitions de chanteuse et musicienne dans le groupe ‘The Tweeters’. Ses tenues très spéciales, parfois cousues par ses soins, ne sont pas réservées à la scène et elle les arbore aussi au quotidien. Elle produisait depuis les années 70 des œuvres d’art avec des photos d’elle-même, avant même Cindy Sherman, avec qui elle exposa en 1987. Elle imprimait des photos anciennes sur papier très coloré, et ultérieurement sur émail. Son œuvre ne se réduit pas à cela, mais il faut noter qu’elle ajoute quelque chose aux expositions de groupe avec Gilbert & George, Claude Cahun, Marina Abramović, Orlan, Elke Krystufek, l’ancienne et la récente vague féministe ou des rebelles qui font trembler l’univers de l’art sur ses fondations. 

‘Lust’ (1981) tourne en dérision la vision stéréotypée de la femme, mais aussi de l’homme. C’est une photo de vous-même derrière une fenêtre à demi-occultée par un néon rouge. Le personnage entre les lettres du mot ‘lust’ portant un ours en peluche blanc et faisant la moue semble apathique, outragée et vulnérable… 

Liliane Vertessen: “Il faut la replacer dans le contexte des années 80. Je ressentais bel et bien l’énergie, le désir, mais je ne voulais pas en faire des tonnes (rit). L’image est encore plus ambiguë lorsque le néon est allumé. J’essaie toujours de donner à mes photos plusieurs niveaux de lecture. Tout le monde voit quelque chose d’autre, donc à chacun son interprétation. C’est à chaque fois une découverte de ce qu’il y a en moi. C’est pourquoi que j’ai commencé à me prendre en photo. J’en avais besoin pour échapper à l’étroitesse de mon univers. C’est plus facile de trouver des gens qui vous ressemblent dans une grande ville comme New York. J’ai toujours été différente, dès mon jeune âge. Une femme du quartier m’appelait même ‘lelijke Janneke’ (‘Janneke la laide’) au lieu de Liliane. Je me suis donc mise à rechercher cette laideur dans le miroir. Je passais beaucoup de temps devant la glace, mais jamais par narcissisme.” 

‘See and think about it’ (1988) est une sculpture rouge et noire avec un miroir, des symboles nazis et deux petites photos de vous-même avec un képi allemand et un missile antitank. Qu’est-ce qui vous amène à produire cette pièce ?  

Vertessen: “J’étais alors consciente du pouvoir des musées et des galeries, du commerce de l’art et des abus de pouvoir. Les artistes étaient exploités et ce qu’ils voulaient ne comptait pas. L’idée de cette œuvre, c’est de dire aux commissaires d’exposition, aux directeurs de musées, aux galeristes, aux critiques : regardez dans le miroir et réfléchissez bien. Il y est question de pouvoir, d’abus de pouvoir, de la prétention d’hommes et de femmes qui se croient habilités à rejeter les jeunes talents, à leur refuser leur crédit. Elle a même été accrochée dans le musée de Jan Hoet à Gand. Je ne sais pas s’il savait pourquoi je l’avais créée. Mais c’était fantastique qu’il me laisse exposer aux côtés de Wim Delvoye et Pjeroo Roobjee. J’avais à l’époque acheté un vieil avion pour un très bon prix et il y avait notamment une sculpture avec un missile Entac, celui que je tiens dans les mains sur la photo. Tout est pour moi question d’énergie, de force, de pouvoir, d’émotionnalité. C’est pourquoi je disais tout à l’heure que j’ai plus de testostérones que certains hommes.” 

‘Je est un autre’, la fameuse phrase de Rimbaud, me vient à l’esprit. Vous apparaissez dans vos œuvres sous toutes sortes d’aspects, de l’ingénue à la diva hollywoodienne et il ne s’agit pas d’un jeu de rôles. Vous voilà maintenant en maîtresse SM et pilote de chasse. Pourquoi ? 

Vertessen: “C’est difficile de ne pas être commercial à Art Brussels. Je me suis dit que je ne visais pas la vente. Je vais montrer ma force féminine et le pouvoir face à l’abus de pouvoir. Je ne cherche pas à plaire au public. Si j’utilise une photo, elle ne doit pas être flatteuse. Une photo ratée peut avoir plus de puissance car on peut y ajouter quelque chose. Dans les années 60, j’entourais les cadres de peluche et j’utilisais des plumes. C’est comme ça que j’ai commencé. Je voulais déjà travailler hors du cadre et c’est toujours le cas. Je veux continuer à m’étonner moi-même de ce que je fais. Si vous posez des questions, je commence à parler, mais je trouve encore plus fort de mettre ce que je pense dans une image, une image compacte et de la lancer comme on lance une bombe.” 

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Liliane Vertessen au stand de la galerie Zwart Huis, Art Brussels box E03 

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We moeten eerlijk bekennen dat we tot nog toe niet alle 90 landenpaviljoens hebben kunnen aandoen. Zo zijn we (mea maxima culpa !) niet op het Litouws Paviljoen geraakt dat de Gouden Leeuw in de wacht heeft gesleept. Maar hierbij alvast onze persoonlijke top 3.

België

Niet bijster origineel, we geven het toe, maar onze absolute favoriet. Jos de Gruyter en Harald Thys zetten in het Belgisch Paviljoen een bevreemde wereld neer, als een disfunctioneel Bokrijk, met een bont gezelschap van geautomatiseerde poppen die tot in den treure dezelfde mechanische handelingen herhalen. Van Dominee Simons die een irritante stukje speelt op zijn orgel over De Slijper van Wexford, een verdoken seriemoordenaar. Weinig paviljoens gezien met zo veel bezoekers met een grijs op hun gezicht. De jury moet er ook zo over gedacht hebben want het Belgisch Paviljoen kreeg een eervolle vermelding.

Chili

Een aangename verrassing. Voluspa Jarpa onderzoekt aan de hand van zes case-studies voorbeelden van een eurocentrische, koloniale arrogantie. Van het onderdrukken van vrouwenprotesten, het tentoonstellen van Afrikaanse stammen op Wereldtentoonstellingen, over de inmenging van de CIA in Zuid-Amerika. Een project waar heel wat research aan voorafging en visueel mooi vertaald wordt.

Ghana

Ghana mag dan voor het eerst deelnemen aan de Biënnale, het land heeft in elk geval haar entree niet gemist. Meer zelfs: het werd door vele getipt als dé grote kanshebber op de Gouden Leeuw. Het paviljoen, met wanden van aarde en leem, werd ontworpen door de sterarchitect David Adjaye. De geur van gedroogde vis krijg je er gratis bij.

Sam STEVERLYNCK

 

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