Chaim van Luit: Fences won’t keep this kid safe

31.12.2014 - Dries Tack


Chaim van Luit discovered Brussels as a teenager during several graffiti missions. It is a city he is returning to after having served in the marines for four years and earned a degree at the Academy of Fine Arts in Maastricht. The Meessen de Clercq Wunderkammer gallery highlights the Dutch artist who is getting a handle on history.

How did the collaboration with the Meessen de Clercq gallery happen?

Olivier Meessen discovered my work through my gallery in Amsterdam tegenboschvanvreden. When we met I had just bought a metal detector and spent my free time finding military relics at the battlefield sites of Belgian eastern front. It is in the frozen Ardennes Forest that the Allied forces braved the frigid weather and fought off Nazi Germany’s last offensive - code named Herbstnebel. The defensive fighting positions called foxholes revealed a lot of material: bullets, mortars, airplane pieces, and some other very nice objects. The idea was to make a new artwork with all this discovered metal. I didn’t want to reuse this sensitive material in a traditional sculptural way. I choose to replicate a very common accessory, which is also very symbolic in my work: my doorknob.

What do you mean?

The doorknob is a portal between two spaces and a symbol for closing something and 'opening up' something new. A replica of my own personal doorknob used daily added special worth. Passages are really important in my work. I have a lot of different interests but they are all connected in some way - a link that will be also featured in an exhibition in Ghent at Kristof de Clerq gallery from 11 January 2015.

Belgium is really keeping you busy. Did Brussels inspire you?

Actually, I have at the moment an exhibition inspired by the Brussels metro system. I started to wonder where the background music was coming from? Was it the same in all of Brussels’ subway stations? My explorations led me to a bunker-like control room where a 24h-working unit regulates the entire STIB network. There, a small computer placed above a closet plays all day and night a list of music that was carefully selected by a French company; while the working team is listening to a radio station… I filmed this strange atmosphere and other scenes of the Brussels underground. Passers-by and the accordionist of the Botanique station are the main actors. A controller for the video speed can reveal a new focus on faces or expressions. The room is furnished with 14 waiting seats that don’t point to any screen. The seats are a piece of art in themselves, they are just meant for people to sit, wait and think. I named the exhibition after an absurd door sign found in the Hotel des Monnaies station: ALGEMENE STUDIES/ETUDES GENERALES. It means anything and everything at the same time. I found it poetic and linked to the practice of art. This exhibition is running till end of January in the P/////AKT project space in Amsterdam.

Helena Heukeshoven for Belgian Boutique 2014




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