This is This and This is This

Hey!

Happy New Year.

Here are some things:

This is some snow. This is "a little glow in the dark" at the presses. These are the first dummy tests for the "dislocate" books. This is a good whiskey (after having a few). This is some more work done on the "yakuza" solo exhibit in april. And these are flowers for my mother.

....and there's much more to come.

2013 is going to be a good year, I'm sure of it. For all of us... it has to be. My best wishes to each and every one of you... and see you soon.

a

Yakuza exhibit - first concepts

Hi. I've een working on a first Yakuza exhibit concept. I started out sketching by hand and then taking pictures at the actual location, but constantly going up and down to measure, make new pictures, adjust the sketch, became too time-consuming. The sketches would always lack a sense of proportion: I would e.g. have no idea how large or small an image should be printed to fit a wall in a balanced way, or what would be an ideal viewing distance for any given size.

So I forced myself to make time to learn the basics of 3D architectural modeling (I basically downloaded Google SketchUp and watched all the tutorials). It took a long time to get going, and it's quite crude, but as soon as I'd created the room in the right proportions, it became amazing how easy it was to virtually hang images on the walls, put people in the rooms, and see what the impact would be on the space the images were in, make them bigger or smaller, hang them up a little higher, work with different levels,... In a flash, this tool had become indispensable for me to test all my concepts in many more ways than I ever could do before.

Yakuza C-mine exhibit - sketch

Yakuza C-mine exhibit - beginning edit & layout

Of course to actually sketch out ideas quickly, using 3D is way too slow. For that I will always use pencil and paper and actual tiny prints of my images stuck on a huge page across the whole table... and when I feel an idea that I sketched might just be possible in real life, only then do I go to the 3D environment to actually draw it in detail to see how it holds up. And only if it holds up there, I can start dreaming of the possibility of actually producing...

Another benefit of 3D is being able to show different views. Even though my concept is far from finished, I was able to show the gallery director a walkthrough and the different rooms and basically show whatever she needed to see. She loved it.

But I've still got a long way to go. As you can see, the digital model is still quite empty besides the "hallway"... and I might even change my mind on that one :-)

I'll talk more about the schematics of the room next time, as well as my concept... I just have to work a little more to be able to show you some clearer visuals. But up to now the installation seems to be quite cost efficient, portable, and modular as well; so it could fit it into different shaped or sized locations... because you never know what the future brings...

ps. don't worry about the actual image edit (if you can recognize any of the images anywhere), it's likely to change a million times between now and next week :-)

How do you guys go about sketching an exhibit?

Have a great day today,

a

Yakuza exhibit concept - screenshot

Yakuza exhibit concept - screenshot

Yakuza exhibit concept - screenshot

YAKUZA exhibit in C-mine, Genk (BE) - 2013

YAKUZA exhibit in C-mine - Genk (BE) - 2013 So here is the big news... my first YAKUZA solo exhibit has just been confirmed for spring 2013.

And it's one hell of a unique location... the former Winterslag coal mine now-converted-to-cool-cultural-centre C-mine... A long time ago, this was also the coal mine my late grandfather and godfather (not Antoine, but Bert) worked in.

I now have exactly 11 months to prepare. It seems like a long time, but in reality it's not.... I'll be drawing concepts, making scale models, test prints, paper types, and sketching like hell. And the edit and sequencing of course will be crucial... and the production of the artwork itself will take several months... not to mention producing the installation itself.

I think I've got some cool things in mind as to how I'd like to approach this, and the next conversations with C-mine will determine the feasibility of what's inside my head. They loved the initial concept, so hopefully it'll work out the way I'm envisioning it.

I'll be talking about every step of the way right here, building the concept online, and letting it grow from idea to sketch to model to reality... a careful deliberate journey, and hopefully mucho fun!

I just visited the location, and I've got a whopping 450 m2 (about 1,500 sq ft) at my disposal.

really excited...

 

a

 

Meet Gaston | Heavens

Meet my late grandfather, Antoine Libens. Alfons Libens & Jeanne Degros were his parents. But everyone called him Gaston. Gaston is the reason that I 'm starting my next long term project: Heavens.

Heavens will become a personal journey, me trying to make sense of something unimaginable. Something unspeakable. Something that took place in Europe 60 years ago, before I was born.

I feel the need to personally understand and place the huge and unimaginable injustice done to so many millions during the years of the Holocaust. A darkest page in human history, yet a page never to be forgotten.

---

It all started with my grandfather during WWII, when he was a geography student at the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium.

gaston-libens_P1020863

One night, when Gaston was home asleep, Nazi soldiers raided the house. In the middle of the night they banged the door and forced their way in. His mother woke up from the noise and pushed him out of bed and out the bedroom window onto the flat roof. The soldiers were on a mission to round up and deport all university students who were member of a certain fraternity, with members active in the resistance.

It didn't take long before the soldiers entered Gaston's bedroom. Though it appeared as if the bed was unslept in, one of the soldiers felt the warm mattress and deducted that he must be hiding somewhere in the immediate surroundings. Outside in the meantime, Gaston had been unable to find a hiding place on the flat roof, the only thing in the nearby being a glass dome shaped window in the roof, behind which he desperately tried to tuck himself away as much as he could. One of the young German soldiers, about the same age as him, opened the bedroom window and climbed out onto the roof.

It was impossible not to spot my grandfather.

And indeed he did. My grandfather peering through the glass, acutely aware that he could as well just be standing up and in plain sight, and the German soldier looking straight back at him. Then It happens. They lock eyes for an instant. Both men in their late teens. Both men black hair. Both men look at each other for an eternity, in which they seem to realize something more, something bigger than that wretched war.

The soldier steps back inside saying "Nein, er ist hier nicht."... the cue for my grandfather to make a run for it. Over different roofs, several houses down the road where he jumps off into a courtyard.

Unfortunately Gaston jumps straight into a dog pen, waking up the dog who starts to bark loudly. It's about 2am now. Gaston frantically tries to keep the dog quiet, eventually succeeds, and stays in the pen literally for several hours, waiting. Hours later, he climbs out of the pen. As he walks back to his house, at the end of the street around the corner, he suddenly gets pulled into a house by one of his neighbors... a woman suspected to be collaborating with Nazi Germany. She pulls him into her house, whispering "Antoine! Hide here, wait, they're still staking out your house waiting for you to return...".

---

My grandfather's life got saved twice that night. And by two of the most unlikely people to do so.

A tiny story of hope in what were the darkest of days for millions.

(From that moment onwards, everywhere my grandfather went, he was always shown a secret escape route or hiding place... everyone in town and at the university knew they were after him, and all worked together to keep him safe. In the end, he survived the war not being deported.)

---

I'll be going into detail as to what I intend to do and how I intend to do it, and seek your wisest advice... I'm full on in the research phase now... the photography, the concept, the reason for the title, what I hope to achieve, my fears and aspirations, my sadness, my journey, hopefully my determination to be able to finish this project as i envision it, as that is what I fear the most: emotionally, this might just actually weigh too much upon my shoulders...

I have no answers. But maybe, just maybe, I could provoke good thought.

Lest we never forget.

a