April 23, 2008 - S.M.A.K. - Guillaume Bijl
April 23, 2008

Guillaume Bijl

Guillaume Bijl
Bidet Museum, 2002
Collection De Coninck Mechelen

Guillaume Bijl

05.04 – 06.07.2008

Citadelpark z/n
9000 Ghent


For more than thirty years Guillaume Bijl (b. 1946, Antwerp) has explored the boundaries separating art and (social) reality in his work, and is one of the most prominent Belgian artists of his generation on the international scene. In his installations he creates ‘environments’ using materials that are familiar to us, or, better said, materials we have all ‘experienced’, such as a shoe shop or a driving school. In this way he creates a sort of ‘reality within an unreality’ in his work. As Guillaume Bijl usually displays his work in a neutral space, such as an art gallery or museum, this reality acquires an element of surprise. Through the transformation of the context into sets which have completely lost their social function, these orchestrated ‘bits of reality’ become frozen. With his ironic sense of humour he confronts us with our modern western society and its ‘formatted environments’. Consequently, as consumers we are forced to think critically about this reality he ‘exposes’.

By way of his artistic activities Guillaume Bijl therefore explicitly questions the culture of our everyday lives and has himself divided his work as a whole into five categories. First and foremost we have the Transformation Installations, such as the Flanders Extra Fair, which have been specially compiled for the exhibition in S.M.A.K., and includes the Miss Flanders Contest, a Marriage Bureau or a Disco Wine Bar. Here his aim is to achieve an almost perfect merging of fiction and reality. By incorporating an imitation of reality he highlights the social processes inherent this same reality. Apart from this he also creates Situation Installations as a type of sham operation: concrete interventions in reality. They are barely visible to the spectator, like the posters which will appear here and there in the street advertising the exhibition. Thirdly we have the Sorrys in which the artist takes everyday objects and rearranges them in small compositions. The assemblages of existing and strange objects, which strike us as poetic works of art, are exhibited in the galleries in the museum. The fourth category of his work comprises Compositions Trouvées which, as the name suggests, are compositions of reality such as a glass display case or shelving in a shop. However these ‘still lifes’ are not included in the present S.M.A.K. exhibition. A large section of the top floor of the museum is devoted to Cultural Tourism. This category comprises six installations in which Guillaume Bijl addresses the phenomenon of cultural tourism and presents certain archaeological and sociological arrangements such as The Concise History of Prehistoric Man or ‘De stoel in de kunst – In de Vlaamse Ardennen van 1980 tot nu’. In both wings of the museum we see the Bidet Museum, the Lederhozen Museum, the Erotic Museum and ‘20th-century Souvenirs’, for example.

There is an historical connection between the S.M.A.K. and Guillaume Bijl: in 1985 the first museum director Jan Hoet purchased the ‘Lustrerie Media’ installation, and the museum collection also includes a Sorry installation (1987) and the film ‘James Ensor in Oostende’ from 2000. The museum hopes to explore the collection of his ensembles in the collection even futher.

For more info and queries please contact:
Els Wuyts
Citadelpark z/n
9000 Ghent
T +32 (0)9 240 76 47
E els.wuyts@gent.be

EXTRA. Practical information.
From 05.04 to 06.07.2008 the museum will be open every day from 10 am to 6 pm except on Mondays, with the exception of Monday 12th May (public holiday). The museum is closed from 17th March to
4th April 2008.

The museum offers a wide range of discounts on the usual admission price.
Discounts are also given to holders of a teacher’s card, student card, Cultural Youth Passport, Plus-3-pass, Knack Club card, etc. Registered job-seekers, over-55s and under-26s are also entitled to a discount. Cultural cheques, the Museum go-as-you-please-ticket and the Museum Pass are also valid admission tickets.

Free: children under the age of 12, handicapped persons and group supervisors. The museum is also open to Ghent citizens, free of charge, on Sundays between 11 am and 1 pm.

EXTRA. Visual material
Pictures of the exhibition are featured on the site at www.smak.be . To download these pictures you need a login and password. Applications for these may be sent to the following e-mail address: fabienne.gros@gent.be

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