Exhibitions, Tips

The Act of Magic, Artefact 2017

Ernest De Clerk from the Culture Office of the University of Leuven and the magazine “Deux Ex Machina” shares his enthusiasm about Artefact, the annual festival organized by STUK – House for Dance, Image and Sound. This year’s edition looks at the act of magic. From poetry to strategy, from magical object to obscure systems, from harmless distraction to manipulation: the artists in The Act of Magic investigate what enchants us today.

Exhibition The Act of Magic, Artefact 2017
Artist(s) Jonathan Allen, Eric Arnal-Burtschy, BCL, Melanie Bonajo, Jens Brand, Center for Tactical Magic, Marjolijn Dijkman, Tim Etchells, Verena Friedrich, Goldin+Senneby, Femke Herregraven, Hollington & Kyprianou, Liz Magic Laser, Shana Moulton, Tobias Revell, RYBN.org, Suzanne Treister, Troika
Venue STUK - House for Dance, Image and Sound, Leuven
Photography Kristof Vrancken

Ceçi n’est pas un Artefact. It’s an exhibition and a festival. And you shouldn’t miss it. According to Prague structuralist Jan Mukarovsky the artefact is but a material object. It only becomes meaningful in the consciousness of the perceiver. A book only becomes a story in the mind of the reader. A festival never really takes place unless you participate, or does it?

This year Artefact’s theme is The Act of Magic. It will bring together magic, art and politics in what it calls an exhibition “on contemporary visual arts, current events and societal challenges”. If you can’t separate art from consciousness, you certainly can’t separate it from politics. Making art is a political statement. But art can also reflect on politics.

The artist Jonathan Allen, for example, will confront the “viewer’s tendency to construe meaning from unrelated fragments” by showing us printed silks in sequence. Suddenly Mickey Mouse is guilty. Fragmented images trick us into a certain truth by their order in time and space. In an age where the media is false and facts can be alternative, this is not a subject to brush off lightly.
Similarly, American artist Shana Moulton will confront us with our contemporary health craze. Her film and sculptural installation Every Angle is an Angel and Every Cell is a Bell shows us her alter ego Cynthia craving for health and self-improvement. But in the search for a healthy life one easily gets lost in the proliferation of methods. Was it new age spirituality or tv-esotericism?  ‘Health is wealth’ takes on a new meaning.

Next to the exhibition there is a ton of other things to do and see. Of particular interest is the musical chapter of Artefact. The festival offers a stunning choice of music groups like Sky H1, Aïsha Devi, Actress, and others.

I can’t wait to make that artefact come alive in my consciousness.

out now

Tique | publication on contemporary art #3: Six Questions