Antwerp art

I actually was pretty sure I once blogged about visiting more museums in Antwerp, but to my surprise, I only once blogged about the Rubenshouse. It was my first blog-article; written in december 2013. In the meanwhile, my boyfriend and I went to visit Antwerp several more times; like we did this weekend! And this weekend we visited two museums: The ‘M HKA’ and the ‘Museum aan de stroom’. Both quite some kilometres away from the city centre, and both museums are on contemporary art.

It was our first time we went to the M HKA. It’s in the south of Antwerp, on the river bank, not more than a few kilometres from the city centre. They asked for a 10 euro entrance fee, so I kinda wished we went there a few days earlier; for if you visit the Antwerp museums on the last wednesday of the year; they’re all free! The M HKA is a big concrete building. One side of it is completely round; like a silo. The rest of the building is just a big, white, concrete block. It reminded me of the Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht; which also has a silo-like part in the museum as well; and really makes use of the round effect when setting up an exhibition. The M HKA doesn’t do much with the round part of it’s museum.

The M HKA held three big exhibitions, next to the permanent exhibition. Most of the space was reserved for installation artist James Lee Byars. His exhibition was called ‘Perfect Kiss’ and was meant for the visitors to participate in it. Not by kissing (I actually didn’t see anything that resembled kissing in any way, but maybe that’s just me) but by raking some sand to create a rock garden, and by wearing a big, shiny, round rope with three holes in it; meant to wear with two other people in order to ask each other meaningful questions. My boyfriend and I did both.

The ‘question’ was actually one of the three pillars of Byars’ exhibition. The other two pillars were: ‘the perfection’ and ‘the death’. I guess raking the sand belonged to the ‘perfection’ part of the exhibition. The whole thing was kinda philosophical.

Byars also took part of the ‘A 37 90 89‘ exhibition, since he was participant of that art group. Next to a live ‘question time’ by phone, A 37 90 89 organised a sport event in Germany. (Not really sure how this is related to art,..)

The last temporary exhibition was set up by Haseeb Ahmed, who explored the idea of the fertile worldwind, with the result; wind eggs. He made a very interesting windtunnel and introduced us to the vortex faced being: the face of this fertile world wind.

In the permanent exhibition I came across miniature art by the Belgian artist Nancy Bailleux. As I create miniature art on crown caps, she does so on little coins. Very nice to see.

All in all I liked the museum, and it’s exhibitions, but was a bit dissapointed on the lack of variety in different art mediums, and because the installations were very big, there weren’t many of them, so it didn’t take us much time to finish our tour through the museum. I liked the bathroom especially for artists though. (See picture)

The next day we went to Museum aan de Stroom, for the second time. There wasn’t much changed since the first time we visited, 2 years ago. Apparently they only have one temporary exhibition in their 10 stores high building. It was called ‘instinct’, and, to me, was very weird. We saw small ceramic animals and a ‘funniest pets’ on big screen. There probably was much more, but my mind most of the time was busy trying to answer the question what ‘all this’ referred to.

I like how the Museum aan de Stroom tries to get their visitors participate in their exhibitions, by posing a question at the end of it. The ‘life and death’ exhibition, for example, was concluded by the question whether you believed in life after death. You were asked to answer that question by making a knot (or two) in a rope.

I made some pictures of some of the exhibited works. You see a jar in the shape of a jaguar. It is from pre-Colombia, and I liked it because the note informed me that the ears whistle when you pour boiling water in it. Lovely, right? I also took a picture of the Vishnu-avatar Matsya. I liked it, because the night before I actually searched for the story of Matsya, since my boyfriend drank a beer called ‘Orval’, which too was a mythical fish, and I wanted to know if the stories corresponded. (They don’t.) The last picture is from an interactive play on ‘how to feed our growing world population’. (The interactive play didn’t work though.) Labgrown meat was served as an option, but they wanted you to think about it as well, for it actually is a growing dilemma we already face.

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