I am interested in the very abstract concept of time and I explore it from a scientific, psychological and philosophical angle. As a visual artist, I approach time through very patient and precise work in repetitions and series. – I believe that there is an inherent dichotomy in my work between strength and weakness, which alternate each other in the metaphores of the matrices I cherish. I particularly like the intensity of the lines in wood and the fragility of glass. These materials and further matters like paper and plexiglass have led me to explore inherent quality characteristics such as transparency, opacity, density, surface and their superposition as well as their properties to reflect and diffuse light.
I have developed a way of working on the spot I first chose a subject – which is never harmless but always interpellant – and then embarking the field to collect observations, information and finally synthetise them through the prism of my experiences and feelings creating a coherent thread with writings.
For example to try to understand blockages and interruptions in the creative process and how isolation and time may challenge or transcend these, I set up a performance exhibition, in which four artists including myself were locked up behind two doors, between four walls during a time of 48 hours. The aim was to experiment confinement and to apprehend freedom of creation while fighting for space.
Living far away from my Belgian roots for ten years already, I naturally started to create artworks dealing with the issues of belonging and attachment, which were presented in several exhibitions in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. Roots and memories were the subjects of my papercuts and work of lace. I am very interested in the Third Culture Kids phenomenon, in the way migrants keep on transmitting their culture to their children in their new host country, in the way we all deal with the call of somewhere else and the need to feel our own roots. – We are shaped by the places, in which we have lived but is the nostalgia for our past homes innate or learnt?
I arrived in the coastal city of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in 2006. Two centuries ago it was still only a small fishermen’s town on the East African shore with a blue lagoon until it t was promoted to a trading post-status. Since its early days the little Haven of Peace has changed – shaped by colonization and waves of migrants – into the biggest harbour in East Africa and one of the fastest-growing cities in Africa. Fascinated by the new megalopolis and its hybrid cultures, I realized that this city, between tradition and modernity, nature and anachronic urbanism, has developed my deepest interests and transformed them into my current art subjects. Indeed, I am trying to understand how time, moves of people and migratory flux can influence culture. How can people preserve their roots and singularity from an assimilation by a new global culture? How do they integrate elements of the new environnement while preserving their own cultural uniqueness?
In 2016, I have prepared an exhibition called ‘Empty spaces’. I wanted to deepen the topic of emptiness created by the solitude of urban areas or the loneliness of big spaces. ‘Empty spaces’ was to question the time we devote to address the boredom, to tame the solitude, to tackle the indifference caused by the rapid development of the cities – in an era of immediacy of information and overuse of new communication technologies that leads to a decrease of human conversation.
The exposition was clearly about the time we need to do nothing but also about the time which just passes and against which we have only one solution: The one to leave our own individual traces. Until now, I haven’t found a more beautiful way to do that than by art and transmission.