A SPECTER FROM THE LAND OF IF #2
Stilll galery, Antwerp, 05.03. - 06.28.2014

With works by John Blake, Egon Van Herreweghe, Jan Kempenaers, Lara Dhondt, Ria Pacquée, Dominique Somers, Sarah Gerats, Matteo Cremonesi, Hana Miletic, Ward Heirwegh, Sine Van Menxel,
Erik van der Weijde and Emmeline de Mooij.

At the turn of the 20th century, sixty-seven photos taken by Pictorialist photographers were placed into a collection. Forty photographs from the collection have remained missing. Playing with the concept
of a resurrected collection, the exhibition appeals to inquiries into the historical value of this particular collection and the “open-endedness” of collecting in general.
Exploring storage areas at the Royal Museum of Art in Brussels (RMAH), the young art historian Tamara Berghmans first uncovered the obscured collection in 2001. Though only discovering 27 images, her research indicated that a full 40 other images apparently had been lost. Though attempts were made at recovering the lost images, none have since surfaced. In lieu of the undiscovered images, Stilll presents a double exhibition of fourteen contemporary artists who will present their artistic reflections and interpretations concerning the mysterious loss of 40 pictures from the historical Pictorialist collection.
The historical collection contains work of international photographers such as Hannon, Stieglitz, Steichen and Alexandre among others and denotes a significant ingress by the Pictorialist movement within the history of photography. Pictorialism sought for equal recognition of photography in the context of fine art at the turn of the 20th century. As we can see in the 27 left overs from the collection, themes, and the mannerism in their depictions, demonstrate large similarities with Impressionist and Naturalistic paintings. This is immediately apparent by the use of unsharp foci of misty landscapes that reference the rough and fast brushstrokes of the Impressionists. The Pictorialists didn’t want to document reality as such, they conceived an artistic perception through the lens of their medium.
This way of looking beyond photography forms the mutual approach of the fourteen international artists in the group show. Each of the artists tests the limits of the medium by referring to other disciplines such as painting, installation, architecture, design and generative art. Photography here is appropriated as a subjective and personal interpretation of depicted reality, whether it be critical, political or economical. The mysterious loss of 40 pictures from the historical Pictorialist collection became a freely interpreted source to draw from. A specter from the land of If is initiated by Stilll gallery in collaboration with graphic designer Ward Heirwegh who has been commissioned for the scenography. The exhibition comprises work by artists including John Blake, Egon Van Herreweghe, Jan Kempenaers, Lara Dhondt, Ria Pacquée, Dominique Somers, Sarah Gerats, Matteo Cremonesi, Hana Miletic, Ward Heirwegh, Sine Van Menxel, Erik van der Weijde and Emmeline de Mooij.
Charlotte Van Buylaere