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Concept - The Raft. Art is (not) Lonely

22 October marks the start of the follow-up exhibition of 'The SEA - salut d’honneur Jan Hoet (2015)'. In the second edition of this triennial international exhibition, the focus is placed on ‘the raft’.

During the last couple of months, curators Jan Fabre and Joanna De Vos worked very hard to arrive at a selection of artists featuring both well-established international names as well as fresh young talents. The locations were also carefully selected and often deviate from the beaten paths. The exhibition’s central location and starting point is of course the Mu.ZEE, but a number of less obvious locations such as the old church tower Peperbusse, the Court House, the Europe Tower and the cellars of the St. Joseph Church will be featured during the art walk through the city.

‘The Raft. Art is (not) Lonely’ is not only an exhibition, but also a conversation with Ostend, the City by the Sea with its own distinct history and scent. The baseline of the dramaturgy of Mu.ZEE’s exhibition, which will be presented in various locations spread across the Belgian seaside resort, is the thorough research conducted into ‘The Raft of the Medusa’ (1818) by Théodore Géricault and Jan Fabre’s utopian raft ‘Art is (not) Lonely’ (1986). Although there is an unmistakable 170-year time difference and a completely different historical origin, both works tie in with each other thanks to their visualisation of the expedition and the destination of the artist, which is a theme acting as a metaphor of the condition humaine.

Joanna De Vos

Joanna De Vos

Joanna De Vos (b. Ghent, 1983) is an art historian and curator. She studied art history at the University of Ghent and dedicated her thesis to the male nude as photographed by women. She has worked for the Flanders International Film Festival-Ghent and for the National Bank of Belgium’s contemporary art collection. In 2015, she curated the large-scale exhibition Facing time. Rops/Fabre in the city of Namur and in 2016, at the invitation of the city of Florence and in collaboration with the Italian curator Melania Rossi, conceived Spiritual Guards for the Forte Belvedere, Palazzo Vecchio and Piazza della Signoria, an exhibition that attracted over 500,000 visitors. She is the co-curator for The Raft. Art is (not) Lonely (2017, Ostend) and in the summer of 2017 will also curate the international group exhibition The Artist/Knight in the Castle of Gaasbeek.

Jan Fabre

Jan Fabre

For more than thirty-five years Jan Fabre (1958, Antwerp) has been one of the most innovative and important figures on the international contemporary art scene. As a visual artist, theatre maker and author he hascreated a highly personal world with its own rules and laws, as well as its own characters, symbols, and recurring motifs. Influenced by research carried out by the entomologist Jean-Henri Fabre (1823-1915), he became fascinated by the world of insects and other creatures at a very young age. In the late seventies, while studying at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts and the Municipal Institute of Decorative Arts and Crafts in Antwerp, he explored ways of extending his research to the domain of the human body. His own performances and actions, from 1976 to the present, have been essential to his artistic journey. Jan Fabre’s language involves a variety of materials and is situated in a world of his own, populated by bodies in a balance between the opposites that define natural existence. Metamorphosis is a key concept in any approach to Jan Fabre’s body of thought, in which human and animal life are in constant interaction. He unfolds his universe through his author’s texts and nocturnal notes, published in the volumes of his Night Diary. As a consilience artist, he has merged performance art and theatre. Jan Fabre has changed the idiom of the theatre by bringing real time and real action to the stage. After his historic eight-hour production "This is theatre like it was to be expected and foreseen" (1982) and four-hour production "The power of theatrical madness" (1984), he raised his work to a new level in the exceptional and monumental "Mount Olympus. To glorify the cult of tragedy, a 24-hour performance" (2015).

Jan Fabre earned the recognition of a worldwide audience with "Tivoli" castle (1990) and with permanent public works in sites of historical importance, such as "Heaven of Delight" (2002) at the Royal Palace in Brussels, "The Gaze Within (The Hour Blue)" (2011 – 2013) in the Royal Staircase of the Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels and his latest installation in the Antwerp Cathedral of "The man who bears the cross" (2015).

He is known for solo exhibitions such as "Homo Faber" (KMSKA, Antwerp, 2006), "Hortus / Corpus" (Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, 2011) and "Stigmata. Actions and Performances", 1976–2013 (MAXXI, Rome, 2013; M HKA, Antwerp, 2015; MAC, Lyon, 2016). He was the first living artist to present a large-scale exhibition at the Louvre, Paris ("L’ange de la métamorphose", 2008). The well-known series "The Hour Blue" (1977 – 1992) was displayed in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna (2011), in the Musée d’Art Moderne of Saint-Etienne (2012) and in the Busan Museum of Art (2013). His research on “the sexiest part of the body”, namely the brain, was presented in the solo shows "Anthropology of a planet" (Palazzo Benzon, Venice, 2007), "From the Cellar to the Attic, From the Feet to the Brain" (Kunsthaus Bregenz, 2008; Arsenale Novissimo, Venice, 2009), and "PIETAS" (Nuova Scuola Grande di Santa Maria della Misericordia, Venice, 2011; Parkloods Park Spoor Noord, Antwerp, 2012). The two series of mosaics made with the wing cases of the jewel scarab "Tribute to Hieronymus Bosch in Congo" (2011 – 2013) and "Tribute to Belgian Congo" (2010– 2013) were shown at the PinchukArtCentre in Kiev (2013) and the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Lille (2013) and travelled in 2016 to ‘s-Hertogenbosch for the 500th anniversary celebration of Hieronymus Bosch. Jan
Fabre has also been invited by dr Mikhail Piotrovsky to create a major exhibition at The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. With the exhibition “Jan Fabre. Knight of Despair / Warrior of Beauty” the artist will go into a dialogue with the old Flemish masters – Rubens, Jordaens, Van Dyck – his inspiration. 

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