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side walls | FILIP DUJARDIN in Antwerp


A photographer that builds, a builder that takes photographs, or an architect in disguise? The artist identity of Filip Dujardin (b. 1971, Ghent) encompasses and at the same time rejects all of these descriptions. Rather than who he is, the artist himself prefers to describe what he is engaged in: a multimedia exploration of the essence of architecture.

Filip Dujardin the wall, 2016 in situ installation, bricks dimensions variable unique ed.: 1 ©Filip Dujardin / Van der Mieden Gallery

Filip Dujardin, the wall, 2016 (in situ installation, bricks
dimensions variable) © Filip Dujardin / Van der Mieden Gallery

 

Filip Dujardin

side walls

September 4 – October 22, 2016

Van der Mieden Gallery

Antwerp, Belgium

www.vandermieden.com

 

 

 

 

PR Info _ A photographer that builds, a builder that takes photographs, or an architect in disguise? The artist identity of Filip Dujardin (b. 1971, Ghent) encompasses and at the same time rejects all of these descriptions. Rather than who he is, the artist himself prefers to describe what he is engaged in: a multimedia exploration of the essence of architecture. Dujardin began this visual research in 2007 with the series Fictions. This ongoing series consists of photo montages made up partly of images of existing buildings and partly of digital representations of buildings that – with their bricked-shut windows and doors, floating components and dysfunctionally elongated structures – are somewhere on the border between the familiar and the alienating, flirting with surrealism and hyperreality. In this exhibition, pixels are swapped for red bricks as Dujardin leaves behind the safe virtual world, with its unlimited possibilities, to confine his research to the uncompromising parameters of reality: architecture as a sculptural form in time and space.

Filip Dujardin twigs, 2016 Inkjet print on Photo Rag paper 100 x 100 cm, 104 x 104 cm (frame) edition of 6 and 2 A.P. ed.: 1 ©Filip Dujardin / Van der Mieden Gallery

Filip Dujardin, twigs, 2016 © Filip Dujardin / Van der Mieden Gallery

Neutral, modest, inconspicuous, constant: the gallery space may present itself as an impartial backdrop for the presentation of objects but Dujardin is an architectural relativist through and through; for this artist, spatial arrangements are never absolute. With his brick-and-mortar interventions he makes suggestions for poetic adjustments to the architectural structure of the building, guides our gaze to unnoticed nooks, lines, and textures, and encourages us to reflect on what was, what is, and what could be. Dujardin is averse to the notion of ‘designing’: while he respects the innate value and forms of architectural archetypes and typologies such as doors, walls and staircases – ancient elements that first served their purpose 12,000 years ago – in his hands they also undergo a subtle shift in context. Stripped of their functionality and identity as load-bearing elements, they are unceremoniously turned back on themselves, Dujardin placing an ‘abnormal’ (and consequently absurd, humoristic) filter on the ‘normal’.

Filip Dujardin stairs, 2016 Inkjet print on Photo Rag paper 100 x 100 cm, 104 x 104 cm (frame) edition of 6 and 2 A.P. ed.: 1 ©Filip Dujardin / Van der Mieden Gallery

Filip Dujardin, stairs, 2016 © Filip Dujardin / Van der Mieden Gallery

Whereas his photo collages have been known to exhibit hints of locality, with his in-situ installations the artist seeks out the universal. The brick – the anonymous basic element of our society, with the potential to become anything – is assigned the lead role. To build the two-by-six-metre wall in the central gallery space, Dujardin bought a selection of the bricks most commonly used in Flanders from his local DIY store. The white, grey and red building blocks meet clumsily in this wild, anarchistic wall to create a fragmentary composition of linear relationships. Here Dujardin brings the outside inside and presents a visual metaphor for the diversity of the city: all of society agglomerated in one wall. With this he offers a comment on the positive facilitating role that architecture is often seen as having, while also emphasizing the hindering aspect of it: architecture as an obstacle. Dujardin sees architecture as a buffer between two places, requiring one to undertake a certain action (to go through, over or under something, for example) in order to restore contact between oneself and the place. In this space, the architectural elements themselsves are often in conflict with one another: the room for movement offered by a door – in itself a barrier – becomes even more limited by an obstructive wall and a redbrick staircase crawls like some kind of parasite out of its cement-based counterpart. Which staircase came first?

Dujardin likes to provoke questioning with contrasts of form and material, nature and culture, reality and fiction. The latter pair is found not only in his images but also in his process: his spatial interventions are immortalised through photography. When Dujardin, the ‘architectural photographer’, has ‘finally’ started to build, he circles back by photographing his constructions. From fiction to reality and from reality back to fiction: it is a cycle by which his quest to distil the essence of architecture becomes even more multifarious. ‘What is architecture?’ he asks himself, but also, ‘What is an image? What is a representation of architecture?’, and ‘How is architecture experienced through this particular medium?’ These questions loom larger, the more that the different possible viewing experiences – each as layered as Dujardin’s constructions – overlap one another, whether they, as tangible sculptural forms, claim a presence in the space or not.

Info + illus. courtesy Van der Mieden Gallery