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Liebaert Projects proud­ly presents three new solo exhi­bi­tions by emerg­ing artists: Sebastian Jefford, Eva L’Hoest and Kamiel de Waal. This project marks the moment when Liebaert Projects acti­vates the full poten­tial of the for­mer flax weav­ing mill De Stoop. Welcome to the ship of fools. Upon arrival, we enter Natural Gas’ by Sebastian Jefford (1990, Wales). It’s his first (solo) exhi­bi­tion in Belgium, com­pris­ing of entire­ly new works. Jefford’s oeu­vre main­ly con­sists of sculp­tures, video and draw­ings. In his sculp­tures, the artist uses a fas­ci­nat­ing and inten­sive work process: he sculpts the images in clay tablets, which are used as a mold and cast in polyurethane. The cast is then care­ful­ly paint­ed and assem­bled in its final form. Jefford’s works reflect on the sta­tus of the image and its per­cieved imma­te­ri­al­i­ty: in a time where images are as much a part of the air we breathe, the artist asks where and when we might trace the source mate­ri­al­i­ty and phys­i­cal­i­ty of these things we con­sume every day. 

Entering the main space, we are con­front­ed with a bizarre and blank archi­tec­ture. Although anony­mous, it has a Flemish feel to it – per­haps because of the fake roof tiles that we find in sheds and gar­den annex­es, and oth­er build­ings that might hide the back­stage of every­day life’, whether that is our dig­i­tal or phys­i­cal lives. The works from the Buffering series are pre­sent­ed on the roof sculp­tures which mim­ic the archi­tec­ture of the exhi­bi­tion space. The shape of these works reminds us of flo­ral motifs, medal­lions and of course the buffer­ing sign that pops up when­ev­er there’s a lag between a device and the inter­net. These large works appear as almost enlarged and updat­ed ver­sions of pil­grim badges, which were bought, tak­en or even stolen by trav­el­ling pil­grims in Christian medieval Europe. Sought after for repen­tance or heal­ing, this was thought to be accessed through touch or even inges­tion. In Jefford’s works, fin­ger­prints, fos­sil-like forms, and what look like wires are embed­ded into the grub­by and worn sur­faces, con­tend­ing with graph­ic images and text from var­i­ous his­tor­i­cal and con­tem­po­rary sources. For exam­ple, on one of the first works we see a ref­er­ence to book VI of Plato’s Republic’, the wood engrav­ing of The ship of fools’ in which the dys­func­tion­al and mis­gov­er­nance are a cen­tral theme.

Time is the com­mon thread run­ning through this com­plex exhi­bi­tion: it is as if the artist is view­ing the present through the lens of the past. Jefford attempts to pull apart and put back togeth­er again recent and not so recent his­to­ries using asso­cia­tive think­ing. The idea of time is also present in the three works enti­tled Clock test’, in which the artist uses dia­grams made by per­sons in var­i­ous stages of demen­tia. Another work warns us that time is unfor­get­table, unsan­i­tary, unhealthy’.

The relent­less inter­play between images and texts reminds us of every­day brows­ing, that moment when you just want­ed to check one mes­sage and time slipped away on the screen. Looking at these works we are always dis­tract­ed by the tex­tured and dirty sur­face, a reminder that behind this lim­it­less and per­haps direc­tion­less wan­der­ing is a con­cealed yet sprawl­ing and neb­u­lous infra­struc­ture. Lose your­self in the many details, the fin­ger­prints in the skin of the works, the count­less his­tor­i­cal ref­er­ences and enjoy the visu­al spec­ta­cle as you go down the stairs to the for­mer pro­duc­tion hall, which now hosts the per­ma­nent works. There, on the right you will find Jefford’s edi­tion for Liebaert Projects. In his typ­i­cal style, he shows the tran­si­tion from day to night in 20 unique edi­tions that are for sale to sup­port the artist and Liebaert Projects.

Then we have Eva L’Hoest, a young artist from Liège who turns 30 this year. She lives and works in Brussels. At the same time as this exhi­bi­tion L’hoest is show­ing her video instal­la­tion Shitsukan Of Objects’ in the group exhi­bi­tion Regenerate’ at Wiels in Brussels. L’Hoest’s work has already been shown on sev­er­al occa­sions, such as the 2019 Biennale of Lyon and Riga Biennale in 2020.
Next year it will be shown at the Biennale of Sydney. For her show at Liebaert Projects, L’Hoest made Don’t feed the birds’; a new room fill­ing video instal­la­tion and a new series of sculp­tures cast in met­al. L’Hoest’s solo exhi­bi­tion inau­gu­rates the base­ment space of Liebaert Projects, which still has the orig­i­nal floor in blue­stone from Tournai and the typ­i­cal brick arched vaults which make the build­ing a his­toric land­mark. In this new video tryp­tic, the artist shows us how peo­ple dwell between the sobri­ety of num­bers and algo­rithms and the cling­ing on to super­sti­tion and rit­u­als.
The eter­nal desire to con­trol and direct the future is some­thing that fas­ci­nates peo­ple dark times like these. L’Hoest con­tin­ues her explo­ration of the rela­tion­ship between humans and tech­nol­o­gy and the impact it has on our behav­ior. Don’t feed the birds’ con­tains a mul­ti­tude of ref­er­ences. Among which the rit­u­al of read­ing the liv­er by the Etruscans, the ear­li­est arti­fi­cial life pro­gram and algo­rithms based on the move­ment of flocks of birds and the trad­ing of shares on the Paris stock exchange mar­ket, where the weath­er deter­mines the trans­ac­tions and prices. The artist shifts beau­ti­ful­ly between past, present and future with her mes­mer­iz­ing video that cap­tures the cur­rent zeit­geist in a breath­tak­ing way. When enter­ing the base­ment, we encounter a series of small cast­ed works inspired by the gru­ma, a mea­sur­ing instru­ment used by the Etruscan sur­vey­ors, whose shape reminds both a plumb line and the pen­du­lum of a divine. We see peo­ple cling­ing on to the lit­tle met­al tool, tak­ing a swing. Trying to get a grip on things and events that are prob­a­bly far beyond their capa­bil­i­ties and pow­ers. A hint of what’s to come?

Leaving the base­ment, we con­tin­ue our explo­ration of the site along the per­ma­nent works to the instal­la­tion of Kamiel de Waal. Born in 1998, this young Antwerp artist recent­ly grad­u­at­ed from KASK in Ghent. His ear­ly oeu­vre bor­ders between sculp­ture and pho­tog­ra­phy. Here, de Waal shows An Inflatable left to its own device (or) Must be the rea­son why I’m king of my cas­tle’. With this huge inflat­able ship, the artist sur­pris­es us, the work flirts with absur­di­ty and chal­lenges our imag­i­na­tion. Is it art or a one hit won­der? We can­not enter the ship and when it deflates for a brief moment, we see that it has been reduced to a min­i­mal struc­ture on the inside in order to be func­tion­al. In this work the artist shows a keen sense of taste and play­ful­ness. Within this project the work func­tions as the green lung, the piece attracts our atten­tion from afar and keeps it. Is this de Waal’s inter­pre­ta­tion of The ship of fools’?


Finally, we would like to give you a heads-up for our next project in September in which we will present two new solo exhi­bi­tions with the Latvian artist Daiga Grantina and the Turkish artist Özgür Kar. The exhi­bi­tions will run from 11.0924.10.2021 and can be vis­it­ed on Saturday and Sunday.

Photography by Wolfgang Günzel

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