Tageldimde / Middlegate / Dimdeltage / Gtlaeddmi / Magdeltied / Leaemddlgt/
The artist Julia Krause Harder has a special interest in the Matterhorn, the iconic mountain in the Alps that forms the border between Switzerland and Italy. She expresses that she needs this mountain to remain standing: "Ich brauche Der Berg zum stehen bleiben." The artist works in Atelier Goldstein in Frankfurt, where she surrounds herself with drawings, textile collages, and models of "her" mountain, in addition to impressive dinosaur sculptures. The purpose being to remain standing. Tageldimde/Middlegate is an exhibition featuring works that are presumably made to keep one standing or to allow the viewer to look at the world upright.
During the process of putting together this exhibition, Rebecca Solnit's book "A Field Guide to Getting Lost" has been of great importance. The book seems to serve as the score or imaginary manual for the exhibition. The series of autobiographical essays from 2017 are Solnit's reflections on the idea of becoming mentally or physically lost. Solnit explores themes such as uncertainty and loss, memory and place. She writes, among other things, about the first Europeans on the American continent and how they roamed in an unknown area with different fauna and flora. She also writes about the blue of the distant landscape and how artists have been drawn to it. Solnit also mentions the Tibetan word "Shul," which means a trace that remains after the one who made it has passed. Or more precisely, the impression of something that was once there.
Each artwork in this exhibition is considered a trace of something that has existed. It is seen as an imprint of an attitude, identity, crisis, mental state, concept, utopia, dream, trauma, contemplation, action, or intention. The artwork occupies the place of a moment that has passed but can be elastically stretched into the oeuvre that an artist develops. It gained meaning at a specific moment when it was created, but that repeats every time it is looked at anew. In this way, the viewers are also involved in this flexible play of time and meaning. To borrow words from Alvaro de Campos: "Being the same thing in all possible ways at the same time, realizing the whole of humanity at every moment, in one flowing, abundant, complete and distant moment."
For those who are interested, 'Shul' can be considered the subject of the exhibition. However, 'Shul' actually serves as the trace that connects each work in the exhibition. It is both a perspective and a method employed throughout the exhibition. In this manner, Tagledimde/Middlegate also carries traces of the exhibition that took place ten years ago, but it primarily seeks to create new experiences and explore possibilities in the realm of uncertainty.
We decided not to label the artworks with the artist's name in the exhibition. We invite the viewer to read, explore, and question the traces left by the creators. This requires effort, but we consider that engagement the real entry ticket to the exhibition and the collection of artworks. Just like in any exhibition, visitors are assisted with information, text material, and clarification that predefines and often constricts and stifles the interpretation and appreciation of a work. The expert preempts the unique role that the viewer has in activating an artwork. In Dimdeltage/Middlegate, the expert listens and takes notes. The visitor information is the result of conversations with several residents of Geel, each with very different social and demographic backgrounds. It is the uncertainty of their gaze that provides the handles for the visitors to the exhibition. Just as the care for the mentally ill in Geel has been traditionally managed by living together, we aim for Magdeltied/Middlegate to exist by looking together.
Going back to the concept of the mountain that keeps us standing, for Jan Hoet (1936-2014), the founder and director of S.M.A.K., it was artists who kept him standing. He also held the belief that a museum for contemporary art is the ideal reflective space to think about art and life. In 2013, he curated the first edition of Middlegate. Hoet lived in Geel until he was twelve; his father was a psychiatrist there. He was familiar with the town's tradition of family-based mental health care. The first edition of Middlegate indirectly had a biographical resonance and offered a generous invitation to showcase art from various personal, societal, and cultural origins in a single exhibition. His handwritten foreword for the Middlegate 2013 publication was concise, a sentence like a sigh, expressing a belief about what the function of an exhibition could be: "yet another exhibition that possibly offers us the chance to test our judgments and prejudices."
Ten years later, that sentence remains applicable. In the intervening decade, the world has changed dramatically; even the Matterhorn has grown 15cm taller. Who would have thought, for instance, that there would again be the threat of war in Europe? As of now, the full societal, economic, and social consequences of the two-year-long COVID-19 pandemic are still not fully understood. Both the war and the pandemic could be seen as brackets around a plethora of visible and invisible shifts in the world we inhabit. Almost everything changes, except humans. What characterizes this same but changed world is an atmosphere of fear, indifference, and uncertainty. This triad of feelings dominates politics, our relationship with our environment, and undermines our interest in the unknown. We seek security in what we know and recognize and construct new walls where they were demolished years ago. Judgments are made at digital speed and superficially, and prejudices are manipulatively used as if they were truths. Knowledge and thought are outsourced to the internet, turning us into helpless, solitary beings.
"To be a good person is to have a kind of openness to the world, the ability to trust uncertain things beyond your control that could leave you feeling lost," says American philosopher Martha Nussbaum. Just a few words need to be changed in Nussbaum's sentence, and the intention of Leimgadted/Middlegate is written down. Uncertainties, openness, and trust! The nonsensical anagram Tageldimde immediately brings us into an environment of uncertain things. The letters carry the memory of the first edition of Middlegate, but mainly form an overture to what lies ahead for us, the future as mist. It is an invitation not to look and think in categories. An attempt to make the categories that we find hard to let go of porous and fluid. With rock-solid conviction, we avoid, ignore, and even regard as suspect and unproductive the classical dialectic often set up in exhibitions in a context like this one in Geel. Tageldimde/Middlegate is iconoclastic to the extent that it breaks down the walls of formatted expectations regarding the artist and their work. Instead of entrenching ourselves behind fixed positions, we give oxygen to the image or artwork as a vital trace of artistic existence.
Dlamgeidte/Middlegate is an exhibition made as Edmund De Waal describes an exhibition in his book 'Letters to Camondo': "the pleasure of placing things next to each other. And looking."
We have explicitly distanced ourselves from the fixed positions that we too often think we need to understand the world and are lost in the area beyond, searching for traces. During our wandering, we have sought out artists both domestically and internationally. Sometimes artists in their studios or workshops have been visited multiple times. In this process, international interaction and dialogue with various workplaces and networks were especially important. Leading up to the exhibition, the following workplaces were visited: ActionSpace (London), La Tinaia (Florence), Blu Cammello (Livorno), Atelier Goldstein (Frankfurt am Main), La S (Vielsalm), KAT 18 (Cologne), Yellow Art (Geel), and Créahm Bruxelles (Brussels). From all the workplaces and studios visited, artists and their works have found their way into the exhibition. Two artists have been given a specific task. Marie Zolamian is creating new work after intensive research in the archive of OPZ, and Nenna Kalu is creating a new monumental sculpture during her stay in Geel. The rich collection of the S.M.A.K. was a grateful source for selecting works related to the exhibition's concept.
Pierre Muylle & Philippe Van Cauteren
Ashley Anjuyn, Aysha e Arar, Lysandre Begijn, Ben Benaouisse, Marianne Berenhaut, Danny Bergeman, Julius Bockelt, Guido Boni, Elke-Andreas Boon, Della Calberson, Misleidys Francisca Castillo Pedroso, Klaus Compagnie, Lia D Castro, Eric Derkenne, Julien Detiège, Kasper De Vos (ism Yellow Art), Alain Elsen, Angela Fidilio, Maurizio Fontanelli, Irène Gérard, Giga, Gauthier Hubert, Nnena Kalu, Alexis Lippstreu, Jennifer Lohrmann, Bouddha Mabudi, Tomasz Machciński, Andreas Maus, Alessandra Michelangelo, Juan Muñoz, Armineh Negahdari, Jockum Nordström, Henrik Olesen, Guy Rombouts, Franz von Saalfeld, Manuela Sagona, Franca Settembrini, Riccardo Sevieri, Pieter Slagboom, Harald Stoffers, Javier Téllez, Dominique Théâte, Ante Timmermans, Dennis Tyfus, Guy Van Bossche, Nanou Vandecruys Hidde Van Schie, Sandra Vásquez de la Horra, Ria Verhaeghe, Hervé Yamguen, Cristof Yvoré, Artur Żmijewski, Marie Zolamian