TTTT, Nederkouter 36, 9000 Gent (BE)
Opening times: Friday to Sunday from 14h until 19h
South-African artist Ruth Sacks (°1977, ZA) presents the beginning of a series of works dealing with the complicated interrelated aesthetics of modernism and colonialism. Sacks references the Belgian proto-modernist Art Nouveau movement and sets these up in dialogue with ornamentation from colonial and postcolonial era Congolese designs, probing the contemporary meaning of their intertwining mythologies. The intention is to invite reflection concerning how variations of familiar patterns and motifs can take on new interpretations and associations.
Open Endings begins with looking at Art Nouveau in Belgium, when early modernist aesthetics were not only bound up in forging an identity for the fledgling nation, but also entangled with King Leopold II’s colonial regime in Africa. This theme is introduced with the artist book Twenty Thousand Leagues Under Seas (2013). Other pieces in Open Endings further weave characteristic late 19th century Art Nouveau imagery with historical links to the Congo. A series of printed textiles illustrates an artist’s impression of relations between early modern decoration and African materials brought to Europe. The proposition of modernist design employed in the service of constructing new national identities is drawn into the exhibition with iconic symbols from early post-independence years in Zaire.
Ruth Sacks (b. 1977) is a South African artist and a HISK laureate now based in Johannesburg. She has exhibited widely, including at the African Pavilion at the Venice Biennale (Italy, 2007), ZKM Centre (Karlsruhe, Germany, 2011) and Performa (NYC, US, 2009). Her 3rd artist book, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under Seas, will be launched in Belgium at These Things Take Time.