Alter Ego

25 April 2010 - 13 June 2010

Since a few years, the castle has been developing an innovative exhibition policy that creatively addresses the heritage concept. After all, a historic place is not a sacrosanct place! Heritage also has to do with who we are, here and now.

As soon as the marquise Arconati Visconti arrived at Gaasbeek Castle, she would change identities. Here, she imagined herself to be a medieval page and often had her portrait painted while posing in page fancy dress. Together with the countless objects she collected, the dream castle, restored by her in neo-style, served as a décor and context for her ‘alter ego’.

Today, the combo Job Smeets (º 1970) and Nynke Tynagel (º 1977) create ‘alter ego’s: sculptures inspired by icons from Northern European (art)history, but with a contemporary twist. Studio Job has one leg in the dark ages. Discontent with modernism, they return to the pre-industrial era. They call themselves ‘design criminals’ and oppose all that Modernism stands for, challenge the school that teaches that functionality is king and ornament evil or superficial. Consequently, their art works boast intense theatrical quality. They experiment with lost techniques and materials and deliberately distance themselves from the dictatorial numbers game by producing unique pieces or very limited editions.

The historical aspect is but one element. The duo seeks to communicate here and now, using culture as humus, cultivating it with irony or putting things into perspective by means of extravagance. The icons and archetypes are thus given a new, contemporary interpretation. They become meta-objects: artefacts whereby the object prevails over its function and that through metaphors and symbols present us a story depicting the future of the present by means of the past.

Job and Nynke find their inspiration in castles and cathedrals. They describe their entire oeuvre as a huge three-dimensional diary: each piece of art has a place in a collection that forms part of a larger whole, in other words, a work in progress. In their own ‘Universe’ or ‘Wonder and Horror Land’, a castle (as the metaphor of an imaginary society) was given the leading role.

That is why Gaasbeek Castle is the choice location for this exhibition. Older and more recent works enter into a dialogue with the historicising castle decors, and interact with each other to produce surprising, fresh confrontations.