press release

Given the size of the Brussels venue (1200 m2) and its unusual architecture, the second edition of WITH YOUR EYES ONLY will not only be the most daring project we have realized to date but will also present completely new site-specific works by all the participating artists on a scale commensurate with the location.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a 48-page full-color catalogue encompassing both editions of WITH YOUR EYES ONLY (publication date: July 2010).

We would like to extend our very special gratitude to Galila. Without her generosity, this exhibition would not have been possible.

WITH YOUR EYES ONLY can be seen as the culmination of CCNOA’s international pioneering activities over the past decade, which have aimed above all to open and sensitize eyes, ears and minds, to enhance the understanding of art as an integral and enriching part of our existence and as a social commitment, and to contribute to the reinstatement of the continuity between aesthetic experience and the processes of daily life.

Addressing and challenging our primary sensual and sensory faculties and sensibilities WITH YOUR EYES ONLY offers a real-time and real-place experience providing us with an opportunity to consciously and actively participate in exploring and expanding our perceptual awareness of the here and now. It invites us to drop the ubiquitous need for identification, categorization and explanation, and to embrace the artwork’s openness to multiple interpretations. It demands our mental, intellectual and physical collaboration in defining and redefining our intellectual and physical standpoints, in literally sensing ’awry’.

In return it offers us complete freedom to see for ourselves, to educate and develop our senses, and, in the process, to discover a fresh perspective on reality. After all: “Seeing is a creative act. He who only looks does not see. Seeing means reflecting, perceiving and being aware. He who only looks does not know. Seeing involves binding in all the senses … creating sense. ” (Gottfried Honegger, 2006) The scene will be set by a large spatial intervention / architectural structure - created by Belgian artist Ward Denys and German artist and curator Tilman - which will function as a platform, a maze, a metaphorical setting for experiential interaction within the givens of pictorial language. Eleven artists from Belgium and abroad will then join them in Brussels for a one-week stay to investigate the project’s central topic in relation to the given site and the basic sensory information inherent in their respective artistic practices. In the course of the week, they will communally develop and interactively create site-specific works in response to this structure as well as to one another - generating a sensor-round ’arena / environment for perception’.

Tilman, who created the concept for this project, comments: “The concept for WITH YOUR EYES ONLY is basically driven by personal curiosity. It is also a journey revisited; a journey that I can only describe as one of wonderment at artistic development, the discovery of one’s personal world and the world of cognitive perception.

“We are, consciously and subconsciously, exposed to intangible associations and simultaneous occurrences, to multifarious phenomena and to perceptual space. What catches our retinal perception? How do we read or decipher the information given by a complex work of art? Do we perceive the artwork as a whole or are we seduced by one of its constituent parts? How do we qualify different characteristics of one and the same thing and yet arrive at differing results and emotions?

“Just as an object can trigger multiple perceptions so it may equally well fail to trigger any perception at all. If there is no grounding in personal experience, there may literally be no perception. When objects are viewed without understanding, the mind will try to reach for something that it already recognizes in order to process what it is viewing. For the viewer exposed to an artwork and for the artist creating it, the final object is the result of an interplay between past experiences, knowledge and interpretation.

“Perception per se, the process of attaining awareness or understanding of sensory information, is I believe crucial, especially in reductive work. Although some artists involved in the language of ’concrete’ art might argue against it, the abstracted level of commentary in their own work also focuses on intricacies concerning themselves and their own world of thought. With this in mind and taking it as a point of departure for the exhibition project, I opted to invite a selection of artists whose works address and investigate different aspects of the issue to co-operate with me and create a multilayered perceptual experience rather then present their own point of view.”


GREET BILLET: 1973 IN LEUVEN (BE) / LIVES AND WORKS IN BRUSSELS In her research project The development of the monochrome in its digital and analogue/graphical form of apparition Greet Billet intends to create a link between the digital and the graphical/analogue. This link could originate by transferring the purest abstraction of the 256 digital color values of one single color (grey, green, red and blue) from a digital carrier to an analogue one and vice versa. Next to this she also asks herself if it would be possible to conceive a box or book containing all the parts of the analogue/graphical monochrome or a film containing all he parts of the digital monochrome. At the core of this thought process we always find the tension between the analogue and the digital monochrome; in fact the tension between objective quantizing and subjective valuing. This way Billet attempts, in her recent work, to explore the possibilities of communication in the field of meaning transference. For an individual an object or an event can have an unequivocal meaning, or at least be unambiguous at a specific moment in time. However, the communication about this object or this event each time shows the impossibility to share this unequivocal meaning. Those involved in the communication create their own interpretations of the object or the event. This way communications manifests itself as the fundamental impossibility to share or communicate meanings. Thus, in 2007 she printed words on mirrors, causing their seemingly unequivocal meaning to be reflected towards the viewer, who was confronted with the purely subjective meaning of what seems to happen objectively when we see a word. Simultaneously the viewer saw his own subjectivity in another space, his mirror image, confronting him with the impossibility to objectify his self. The impossibility to give meaning to our world and us and to communicate this meaning seems to be resolved when using objective quantifiable values going beyond the subjective interpreted evaluation. This research is one about the tension between the digital (objective, numerical) values of colors and their analogue (subjective, equivocal) evaluation. That which manifests itself here is another impossibility: reality cannot be captured into objectively delimited categories or numerical variables. There are no colors as such in the physical reality. All there is a continuum of frequencies of light reflection and absorption. In reality we can clearly separate one object from another, but we cannot do that with color. A color such as “red” is not a mere subjective evaluation of a specific, though not strictly fathomable spectral range. It is once again an evaluation that cannot be communicated. What I see as “red” could very well be “green” to someone else. By convention we agree to name this frequency “red”, but its subjective appreciation can fundamentally differ. People who are colorblind can live their lives without ever realizing that they are colorblind. They say “red” when it is red, but what exactly do they see? The only objective experience seems to be the most subjective.

KJELL BJØRGEENGEN: 1951 IN OSLO (NO) / LIVES AND WORKS IN OSLO Most of Kjell Bjorgeengen’s works deal with a combination of representation, the artists’ subject, and the letting go of subjective control by automated processing from sound. Video is structured through what could be called ’post-Cageian’ methods of productions; to retain the artist’s subject of expression and at the same time undermine this subjectivity through the structuring of images from automated processes of sound and music mediated through technology. This technology is in itself often modified in co-operation with hardware and software designers. The installations and video works are based on non-representational references. The pursuit is not to accept the given, be it perceptual prejudices imbedded in language or the dominant economic/political structure. "Kjell Bjorgeengen’s idealistic pursuit of purity and blankness through an amalgamation of sound waves, moving images and lights is like receiving transmissions from the other side. Grainy, ghostly images constantly vibrate and peel off, to reveal hidden forms that build up then disintegrate. Like thousands of abstract and calligraphic messages they are undecipherable. Stimulation of senses arouses inner reaction, as visual and acoustic syntheses attempt to reach the unattainable level of nothingness. Bjorgeengen’s colliding visions and sounds are metaphoric of shifting voids in parallel worlds." (’Paradise Regained’ by Apinan Poshyananda).

DELPHINE DEGUISLAGE: 1980 IN NAMUR (BE) / LIVES AND WORKS IN ANTWERP From Wiels to the Galerie melanieRio the young Belgian artist Delphine Deguislage renders colour weightless and defies the laws of space, creating a precise and playful mise-en-abime oscillating between the surreal world of Alice in Wonderland and the psycho-analytical sets of David Lynch. Delphine is constantly experimenting, looking into where our field of vision starts and where it stops. Her toned personality evokes a well-placed comma, punctuation just where it should be, exact. Her works revolve around volume in space or space around matter. Each medium used incorporates a given movement, line or colour, always just right. In ”IT’S UP TO YOU” three-dimensional sculptures, installations, silkscreen prints and drawings ask one and the same question: what do we see? And it is here that the spectator comes on stage, a genuine partner in the visual play. Delphine differentiates between the term ’user’ and the term ’spectator’. For her the observer becomes active and the work only exists if he or she makes use of it. This kinetic work immediately calls to mind François Morellet, the forerunner of minimalist art, with his uninterrupted research into space and geometry. The work of Delphine Deguislage belongs to a post-modernist tradition that is not confined to a single medium. The pieces she creates are all part of a questioning visual process around colour, taking us on a journey of exploration, an exploration of the third dimension. (Corinne Bardoux, October 2009)

ALEXANDRA DEMENTIEVA: 1960 IN MOSCOW (RU) / LIVES AND WORKS IN BRUSSELS Alexandra Dementieva studied journalism and fine arts in Moscow and Brussels. Her main interests focus on social psychology and perception and their application in multimedia interactive installations. Her videowork integrates different elements including behavioral psychology, developing narrative using a ’subjective camera’. Her interactive installation projects attempt to widen the mind’s potential for perception using different production materials: computers, video projections, soundtracks, slides, photography, etc. By making certain historical, cultural and political allusions, her exhibition locations create the frame within which the idea develops. The projects explore the spectator’s depths of perceptual experience and the interaction of the individual spectator with the exhibition as well as with other visitors. The subject of an installation or its production method becomes less important to her than the mind of the user. Thus the latter becomes the center of the project or the main actor in the performance.

WARD DENYS: 1975 IN IZEGEM (BE) / LIVES AND WORKS IN GENT Through the cross-sectioning of visual arts and architecture, Ward Denys transcends the boundaries of the functional and the dysfunctional, of the inside and outside, of surface and depth. His installations, posited in a minimalist rigor, respond to architectural givens, in compliance and vis-à-vis; they create as much rhythm as counter- rhythm, producing physical disorientation through their mirroring effects. Denys’ works then, built out of plywood and cardboard, manifest themselves as unsettling fragments of architecture, simultaneously taking the status of propositions towards further execution and integration, and remnants, parts of the construction process that were never fully realized. The art of Ward Denys adheres explicitly to this position in the past and in the future - making his work an issue to be dealt with in the present. In recent years, the artist has explored this logic through the singularity of each of his installation works. Emblematic of the artist’s recent preoccupations, the installation works signal a turn from his earlier more sculpture- and object-oriented work. But it seems little more than a formal break: as his early series of rescaled houses and generic landscapes hover between abstraction and functionalism, they have laid out the basic scheme for Denys’ whole body of work. A body of work in which responses become residual and fragments are suitable to be built upon.

CLEMENS HOLLERER: 1975 IN BRUCK-MUR (AT) / LIVES AND WORKS IN GRAZ Mapping the space. Leaving a trace. These are the adventures of an identity in search for its proper place. Clemens Hollerer is interested in the folds of subjectivity, but also in the layers of representation. He follows ordinary forms, found geometries, denoting their life and functioning. He reacts to space, by either responding to it, supporting or questioning it, using his own language of shapes and colors. He takes away the idea of what he is looking at and sees it as a shape or as areas relating to each other. The results are site-specific wall paintings as well as installations and painted objects. His hyper-attention and constant search for aesthetic compositions build up a tension, which prompts his search for perfection in expression and provides his works with a rhythmic quality.

SIMON INGRAM: 1971 IN WELLINGTON (NZ) / LIVES AND WORKS IN AUCKLAND Mixed among the paint tubes and brushes in Simon Ingram’s studio are plastic Lego blocks, metal rods and clamps, wires and yellow boxes with rudimentary controls. These are the "consumer grade" robotics kits Ingram uses to construct self-painting artworks. Both his machines and his works draw on computer science theories of artificial life. An example is Langton’s Ant, a program written in the 1980s. The ant starts out on a grid containing black and white cells. If it is on a black square, it turns right 90 degrees and moves forward one unit. If the ant is on a white square, it turns left 90 degrees and moves forward one unit. When the ant leaves a square, it inverts the color. Ingram says by appropriating such rules, he turns himself into a sort of painting machine.

AERNOUDT JACOBS: 1968 IN WILRIJK (BE) / LIVES AND WORKS IN BRUSSELS Arnaud Jacobs studied architecture. After his studies it did not take long, however, before he chose sound. Today he has released sound works under several aliases: MarkMancha, missfit, tmrx. From 2004, under the name Aernoudt Jacobs, he has focused on installations and performances. His work has been exhibited internationally and he has released two albums on critically acclaimed labels as Staalplaat (NL) and Selektion (D). Generally Jacobs sets out from a fascination for sound, in any form. This explains how he takes his raw material from reality: with a microphone and recorder as field recordings. His works are the result of a research of the different aspects of field recordings and how to assimilate this material to new forms, new contexts. For him the actual resulting field recordings are only a registration. The act, the memory, the context of the recording are even more interesting and complementary motives for his research. The output of his work hovers as some kind of an interaction between micro and macro, inside and outside, fieldwork and studio, reality and fictionalization. In his installation work he investigates mostly correlations between sound, matter, space/location, perception and psychoacoustics. Perception is an important aspect in his work. Perceiving music, sound, harmonies is an activity that is always linked to memories. This association is an ongoing preoccupation that is visible in most of his work. With the aid of psychoacoustic theories, he explores how perception can be influenced and how to express sound physically, spatially and emotionally.

ESTHER STOCKER: 1975 IN SILANDRO (IT) / LIVES AND WORKS IN VIENNA The paintings, murals and installations of Esther Stocker, based on grid structures and on the colors black, white and gray, consistently manifest entanglements, interconnections, interpenetrations, both semantically and formally, for which the variably deployed grid motif functions as a metaphorical logo. Stocker consistently breaks with one-dimensional notions of order, space, and painting as contextual and relational factors and concepts. When an artist so persistently preoccupied with spatial structures and spatial experience, simultaneously calls attention to the fact that „we know nothing about space“ (Stocker), then her stance would seem to testify to a productive skepticism which arises from unremitting and methodical attempts at understanding, and from insight into their-in principle-interminability. (Excerpt from Systematically Broken Systems, Rainer Fuchs)

TILMAN: 1959 IN MUNICH (DE) / LIVES AND WORKS IN BRUSSELS (BE) & NEW YORK At first sight we detect in Tilman’s works a language shaped and haunted by the ghosts of minimalism and concrete art. But we are soon overwhelmed by a multitude of information giving us the opportunity to read the various components of this oeuvre from a personal angle. The works emanate from a careful approach to subjects other than art-inherent; they refuse to dominate the dialogue but rather try to open up and invite the viewer to take part in a visual and mental journey. The formal information we read seems to function as a method for luring us into the process of seeing and to form an overture for a bigger event. The superimposition of the language of form and color inherent in the preoccupation with reductive painting on to a strong connection to a real visual world leads us to a complex construct of opportunities to participate in an experiential process. Objects seen and found in the context of everyday life, functioning together with discarded objects disconnected from their intrinsic context of production and use, find their way into the artist’s mind and language, mediating for higher claims but also highlighting the visual poetry within. Is it a mere projection of the creative mind or are those things talking for themselves, providing information about their existence? The memory of objects experienced in Tilman’s work leads us to a possible dialogue broader than that of a formal discourse about painting, although exposing notions of it or at most partially appropriating the language to serve his personal universe. The work is concerned with the basic act of seeing and perception as a constructive approach towards reading one’s surroundings, mentally and physically, digesting information from subjective and objective matters at the same time and place. We are entering a world of possibilities, angles, openings, spaces, sensualities and intimacies; traces of thoughts in memory and presence come to mind. We are invited to look, to search, to discover and satisfy our curiosity, given the fact of sharing our own presence with the presence of these objects, in their seductive and physical qualities.

PIETER VERMEERSCH: 1973 IN KORTRIJK (BE) / LIVES AND WORKS IN BRUSSELS There are images that become abstract and there are abstractions that become images. Pieter Vermeersch is not an abstract painter as such but rather an image maker; those mental images he finds in reality by photographic means. There is no such thing as pure abstraction. Everything is connected to some part of reality. The image of different degrees of luminosity or the image of the colour of the rainbow’s prism for instance, they fascinate Pieter Vermeersch by their capacity to represent a recognisable image, both identifiable and abstract, while emphasizing the process of image apparition, this "meta-image" in which time progression and space definition take place. Painting "non-spaces", dead angles, forgotten spaces from our daily perception (whether it is the Paintings 1999 series, the monumental installation at the MuHKA in 2006, its sequel 10 Untitled paintings of 2007 or the work realized at the Palais des Beaux Arts during the Jeune Peinture 2007 contest exhibition in 2007); it is not about abstract images, autonomous as such, but a representation or a physical projection of an immaterial space related to painting. The Works in Progress I, II, III series, like a lot of Pieter Vermeersch’ installations, give the impression of a purely abstract work. They are large monochrome surfaces painted on the glass of display windows or a pavilion, with a daily changing tonality and creating inside the space a colour emanation by changing ephemeral essence according to daylight. In the end the artist’s attention was drawn to this tension between the objectivity of these monochrome, rectangular abstract forms seen from outside and this more subjective and fading interior "light and colour painting". Out of the Work in Progress I, II, III series various image-paintings were born that were derived from numerous photographs made by Pieter Vermeersch. The union of the abstract with reality gave birth to a child, sublime, androgynous born out of Apollonian and Dionysian reconciliation. But beware, Pieter Vermeersch is not aiming for the sublime, he revolves around it to better catch it. And we barely let ourselves be seduced and he bounces us back to our reality. All this is nothing but painting... (excerpt from ’Non Space The Image of absence’, Lilou Vidal, July 2008 )

DAN WALSH: 1960 IN PHILADELPHIA (US) / LIVES AND WORKS IN NEW YORK (US) Dan Walsh became known in the early 90s through a group of abstract paintings which followed a path different from that of the "appropriationist" work of the precedent generation. In essence, Dan Walsh considered painting a tool to bring back into play the mechanisms of perception, and not as a simple instrument of criticism. In the first of these works he proposed, through black and yellow lines executed in freehand, basic frames of perception. Over the years, these were succeeded by colored surfaces connected to each other by continual or broken lines. From then on the painting evolved into a potential exhibition space, with different possible pictures mises en abyme: it was left to the viewer to sort out a complex situation of perception, where a painting can be a wall, or a wall a painting. This crossover is most evident in the books that the artist produced starting in 1998. He is of course aware that, from the ’60s on, printed work presented one of the possible forms an exhibition could take. For Dan Walsh, publication, usually of a small hand-crafted edition, provides a field for experimentation, a laboratory of ideas, where past and future paintings can converse, free from the constraints of chronology. (chch)

CARRIE YAMAOKA: 1958 IN THE UNITED STATES / LIVES AND WORKS IN NEW YORK For nearly a decade, Carrie Yamaoka has made reflective and optically disturbing paintings of mylar encapsulated in resin. The artist pours resin onto a reflective ground that is empty of content but full of incident. (…) Air bubbles, liquid sluices and other artifacts of production reveal a layered archaeology of process while forming loci for an otherwise shifting and fluid gaze. The mirrored surfaces of these works, which are usually made of resin on wood, range from nearly machine-made perfection to the random, bubbly roughness of fired glaze; from small to rather large; from silver to deep blue or green. Some hang on the wall like paintings; others are tucked in corners or on the floor. No two are alike. None are exactly as simple or as uniform as you first assume. Like Robert Ryman’s work, Ms. Yamaoka’s is a reverent dissection of the modernist monochrome, but she also partakes of a more parodistic approach, exemplified by Robert Rauschenberg’s ’’White Paintings’’ from the early 1950’s, in which the viewer’s shadow becomes part of the work. Yet its seeming embrace of accident can be connected to the much older tradition of Japanese ceramics. However you parse them, her efforts intimate a rejuvenation of Minimalism, spurred by new materials, more refined techniques and fresh ideas. (Roberta Smith, Carrie Yamaoka: ’World Hotel,’ New York Times June 25, 2004)

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With your Eyes Only @ Yum, Brussels
Künstler: Greet Billet, Kjell Bjorgeengen, Delphine Deguislage, Alexandra Dementieva, Ward Denys, Clemens Hollerer, Simon Ingram, Aernoudt Jacobs, Esther Stocker,  Tilman , Pieter Vermeersch, Dan Walsh, Carrie Yamaoka