S.M.A.K.: Ornament and Pride
In March 2006, I was appointed guest curator of the S.M.A.K. in Gent, Belgium. For a three-year period I acted as an ‘international ambassador’ of the museum, my principal task being the development and realisation of an international exhibition. With this in mind, I developed Ornament and Pride, a project about ornament, craftsmanship and critical thinking, which was supposed to start in 2008. Due to financial difficulties of the S.M.A.K., the project was never realized.
If you are interested in collaborating on this exhibition project, please contact me.
Ornament and Pride
Artists (subject to change)
In 2008, precisely one hundred years later, the S.M.A.K. will organize an exhibition project entitled ‘Ornament and Pride’. This project aims to raise a debate about the existing preconceptions of ‘ornament’, ‘decoration’ and ‘craftsmanship’, and to restore to them some dignity.
In recent times the subject of ‘decoration’ has again become the focus of interest, both in the visual arts, architecture, design and fashion. Ornamentation, patterns and arabesques are springing up everywhere. The exhibition project ‘Ornament and Pride’, however, does not treat the subject as a fashion phenomenon or a design trend that will be quickly superseded by another buzzing word in a day or two. Neither does it seek to place the theme within a broad historical and cultural framework. ‘Ornament and Pride’ takes as its express point of departure a meaningful internal reflection into the subject, and a qualitative selection of artists. It brings together a group of promising artists from the Western world and from outside the Western world, for whom the decorative is not merely a question of form or style, but a means of establishing a debate about social, philosophical and spiritual matters.
Questions and themes
At the same time the exhibition invites visitors to reflect on a number of important questions. What does the revival of interest in the ‘decorative’ and ‘craftsmanship’ mean? What are the issues raised by the work of these artists? Is there a critique of the current fixation of the art world on politically engaged discursive practices here? Is there a plea for a language of art that is richer, more complex, mysterious and less rigid than that of the dominant Modernism? Or is, besides a formal critique, also a criticism of Western modernity in general? Could it be a form of protest against the current rational and individualistic society, a counterpoise to the prevailing neo-liberal economics and politics, and the ‘excess of capitalism’? And what does this return to decorative traditions say about the relationship between Western and non-Western cultures?
Download the ‘Dossier Ornament & Pride (april 2007)‘