Curating De Studio

21 Curators, 91 Artists

A lot has happened in one building, since we started our collaboration with De Studio for the 2016 edition of the Antwerp Art Weekend. To be precise, the four story, maze-like building has seen 21 curators and 91 artists in its four years of being the Antwerp Art Weekend’s central location and main exhibition space, the program varying from static exhibitions to lectures, film screenings, guided tours, performances and an arty party.

At heart, De Studio is a creative and cultural headquarters, smack in the middle of Antwerp, where people of all ages come as visitors and makers. The building wears its history on its sleeve, as it was a former bank, then a school for theatrical arts and afterwards bought by the Province of Antwerp in 2011, when arts organization Villanella was given ground lease and renamed it to De Studio. Ever since, it has been a haven for the arts of all kind, with theater companies, musicians, writers, visual artists, deejays and intellectuals all finding their way into the many rooms of De Studio. When Antwerp Art was looking for a facilitating partner to function as a central hub and host their main activities, De Studio was the right fit.

After years of intense collaboration and the cancellation of Antwerp Art Weekend 2020 due to the COVID-19 induced lock down measures, now felt like a good time to look back at what and who has come and gone in De Studio during past Antwerp Art Weekends.


De Centrale Perfiferie, or The Central Periphery, was a way to include the provincial exhibitions spaces, not located in the city of Antwerp, in the Antwerp Art Weekend. They came together in an exhibition that took over the entire first floor of De Studio. The art institutions were De Garage, De Warande, Frans Masereel Centrum, Voorkamer and Gallery Fifty One, and they showed works by artists Anton Cotteleer, Dries Segers, Hannelore Van Dijck, Koba De Meutter, Reinhard Doubrawa, Arpaïs Du Bois, Karl Van Welden.

The Moving Image was the encompassing title for both video exhibitions of which Headspace, curated by Vincent Stroep, was located in the basement and former bank vault. Headspace selected works that investigate the psychological implications of architecture on the individual by artists Anouk De Clercq, Els Vanden Meersch, Philippe Van Wolputte and Ria Pacquée.

The Moving Image: HISK showed a continuous screening of a selection of video works by former and current artists associated with the HISK (Higher Institute for Fine Arts, Ghent). Did you know that the history of the HISK and Anwterp are intertwined? Up until 2007, the HISK was located at the former Military Hospital site in Antwerp. Part of that old location was used to house an exhibition called Little HISK, which ran side by side with the video exhibition at De Studio.

'In dialogue with' was a lecture series programmed on Sunday, curated by Frederik Vergaert and Nina Hendrickx featuring artists, as well as theorists and scientists.It was set in De Studio’s informal auditorium on the first floor and they invited Lara Almarcegui (artist) and Lieven de Cauter (cultural philosopher) to converse on public space, legal space, commons, urban transformation, land rights and ownership, Jan Verpoten (postdoctoral researcher and artist) and Angelo Vermeulen (visual artist, biologist, space researcher, community organizer and author) to talk about starship development, evolvability, Darwinian realms, social behaviour and an evolutionary approach to human artistic behaviour. Philip Aguirre y Otegui (sculptor and visual artist) on his works Theate Source and SUD2010 and Luc Deleu (architect and urban planner) on Revisiting the Mobile Medium University Concept 2016. And finally, State of the Arts (an open platform for artists, art workers, organizations and anyone concerned about the state of the arts today and Belgian cultural policies in particular) on fair art practices, solidarity, transparancy, diversity and sustainability.

The first edition of the Nacht van de Beeldende Kunst was brought to life by artist and exhibition maker Benny Van den Meulengracht-Vrancx and was to be a celebration of the arts in the form of a party where artworks were integrated in the dance and bar areas. All other exhibitions in the building remained open until 1 am. Invited artists were Liesbeth Doms, Daan Gielis, Stef Van Looveren and Pascal Petrus, who’s neon installation was permanently installed on the facade of De Studio. NBK has since then become the official party of the Antwerp Art Weekend.


Inspired by Lis Rhodes' ground-breaking 1978 film Light Reading, Maria Palacios Cruz, Deputy Director at LUX, London curated Ways of Telling, an exhibition which brought together moving image works from the LUX collection that engage with storytelling and narrative in complex, often mysterious ways. Words were seen and heard, uncoded, undone and questioned. Rebelling against the entrapment of language, these films invited a constant re-evaluation of what and how we see and hear. With works by Beatrice Gibson, Laida Lertxundi, Lis Rhodes, Ben Rivers, John Smith, Alia Syed and Corin Sworn. The basement clearly became the go-to location for video exhibitions.

Curator Nadia Bijl invited fifteen artists to design a poster. The posters were to be perceived as an “artist page”, where only the size was determined in advance. The content was able to be interpreted freely by the artists. These fifteen posters were printed in large numbers and hung on the walls of the entire ground floor at De Studio, where the party took place as well. On the first floor, the same artists were each represented with one artwork. These were Elias Cafmeyer, Filip Collin, Kasper De Vos, Elleke Frijters, Oscar Hugal, Vedran Kopljar, William Ludwig Lutgens, Rufus Michielsen, Bence Rohánszky, Mima Schwahn, Valgerður Sigurðardóttir, Vincent Vandaele, Liese Vanhove, Sine Van Menxel and Ken Verhoeven.

The Little HISK exhibition was organized a second time at the former Military Hospital and old location of the HISK. As follows, The Moving Image, showing a selection of video works by current and former HISK students, was repeated as well in one of De Studio’s black rooms.

Gideon Hakker (guide at Muhka, FOMU, MOMU, Museum M) and Dries Segers (guide at Muhka, FOMU) were guiding visitors past selected works, using a specific guide method called Visual Thinking Strategies or VTS, aimed at deepening your viewing with a positive effect on your sentience, ensuring a sharper, more critical analytic thinking.

Urgent Conversations was a lecture program, put together by Frederik Vergaert and inspired by the wide range of presentations, exhibitions and projects that took place during the Antwerp Art Weekend of 2017. The title referred to the joint project of the M HKA and EMST, a meeting between two museums, primarily intended as a public exchange. Just like its program which featured Kim Goiris (Sint Lucas Antwerpen, Plot(less) Research Group) in dialogue with Dimitri Minten and Tim Vekemans, founders of RE-ST, a studio for architecture and research to talk about “empathic design”, a methodology that accounts the past, context, time, people, nature and economics; in relation to Roland Barthes’ call for “pathetique (literature/ art) critics”, a conversation between Antony Hudek and Paul Hendrikse, Klaas Kloosterboer en Frank Koolen on “Goochelen en Verlies”, their duo show at Annie Gentils Gallery and their shared fascination for Lou Reed and Iliana Fokianaki, (Extra City), to go in dialogue with Jan De Vree (M HKA, Antwerp) and Stamatis Schizakis (EMST, Athene) on the exhibition “Urgent Conversations: Athens–Antwerp”, a collaboration between EMST and M HKA and a theoretical and visual dialogue, based on works from the collections of both museums. The exhibition enacted the belief that works of art may constantly emanate new meanings, open questions and initiate a much desired dialogue, that basic ground for human culture.



‘Just sitting around in the studio’ brought together a series of video works in the former underground vault of De Studio. In the selected works, all artists were to be found in the setting of a museum or a studio, questioning themselves and the institutional constellations they are a part of, performing themselves or assuming guises. With body, hands, gaze, or voice, they animated the otherwise empty and darkened basement. They shedded light on the contours of their work and, from there, on the outlines of their places of production and presentation. Discrepancies between studio and museum were put into perspective, critiqued and torn down, or smoothed down, ridiculed and fictionalized. This engendered tactile journeys of discovery, abstract questions, critical statements, minimal actions or absolutely nothing at all. Artist Bruce Nauman described this quest as follows: “If you see yourself as an artist and you function in a studio and you’re not a painter, if you don’t start out with some canvas, you do all kinds of things – you sit in a chair or pace around. And then the question goes back to what art is? And art is what an artist does, just sitting around in his studio.” In the spirit of this “just sitting around in the studio”, the artists here took the time to pause and question, to embody someone else, call up a memory, feel a sculpture, or translate a painting into words. The exhibition presented works by Johann Arens, Bruce Nauman, Laure Prouvost, Andrea Fraser, Yann Vanderme, Maya Kosa & Sergio Da Costa, Guillaume Bijl, Kitty Kamp, Emily Vey Duke & Cooper Battersby and was curated by Liene Aerts and Helena Kritis with the support of Vidisquare, KIOSK, Beursschouwburg, Ludo Engels AV and M HKA.

Federico Acal, artist and founder of website Art, invited artist Müge Yilmaz to bring an impactful, ongoing performance. ‘The Water, The Soil, the Jungle’ is part of a series of works whose main characters are hybrid beings. Its actants submit themselves into being human, animal, plant, organic, and artificial at the same time. They dive into visibility, perspectivism and genderlessness, while floating between performance and sculpture. These beings roamed the floors of De Studio for three days and one night.

ABC Klubhuis, a collective and gallery in Antwerp, run by Icelandic artists Baldvin Einarsson, Guðlaug Mía Eyþórsdóttir, Helgi Þórsson, Jóhanna Kristbjörg Sigurðardóttir, Kristín Karólína Helgadóttir, Ófeigur Sigurðsson and Valgerður Sigurðardóttir, built a catwalk for artworks, showed candid video footage of all participating artists and created a hangout space and tourist like shop where they'd sell cheap knock off items based on the art pieces, in a far away corner of De Studio’s first floor. They wrote these accompanying words:

Well then dear visitor, and well-come! As you can see around you, and probably feel in your very bones, the annual Antwerp Art Weekend is upon us yet again! And this time around the ABC Klubhuis will join in for the ride, organizing an unforgettable three-fold adventure on the marvelous second floor of De Studio. The guests, including you dear reader(!), will be guided through three spaces. In the first one you will encounter an exhibition exquisite, in which works by a selection of wonderful artists will be on display. In the next room a veil will be lifted, revealing through videos some “behind the scene” moments from the art world. Finally, in the third room, at the far end, of your journey you will find yourself in the bosom of an ABC festival-lounge/museum-store, where Peter Paul Rubens alone knows what will take place! So! Sounds pretty good right? Sure, sure... Sure does, but! As we all know, the Antwerp Art Weekend, like the rare flower it is, only blooms for a very short time, in fact, only a weekend! As you may have already deducted. Therefore, you must clear your head and organize your time or, like a beautiful flower floating down the river Schelde, let the current guide your travels. Either way, we hope you find your way to De Studio and join us in a toast to art, the roar of the Schelde and friendships of all kinds. ABC Klubhuis is an artist run exhibition space situated in the fair town of Antwerpen. We opened our doors last year and make a little splash every other month or so. Well then and well now, thank you for this moment ;) Have a good one and see you all around! Yours truly, ABC Klubhuis.

With artists Philip Aguirre, Sophie Anson & Veronik Willems, David Bernstein, Bloeme Van Bon, Deborah Bowman, Emma Heiðarsdóttir, Pieter Jennes, Valérie Mannaerts, Bram Van Meervelde, Benny Van den Meulengracht-Vrancx, Sophie Nys, OAOA , Sharon Van Overmeiren, Tom Poelmans, Sarah & Charles, Charline Tyberghein and Wim Wauman.

For the first time Antwerp Art abandoned its well scheduled series of lectures taken place in a closed off, slightly dimmed auditorium. Antwerp Art Radio, established by curator Louise Osieka, was a non-physical public space, where through sincere encounters and in-depth conversations the margins of a narrative were made accessible. Antwerp Art Radio preferred anecdotes, details, biographies, confessions, gossip and memories as tools to sketch and reflect upon artistic practices. The result was an old radio playing the live interviewing of all Antwerp Art Weekend participants over the course of the entire Weekend. Made in close collaboration and with the support of Yannick Franck, Demon Breder and ESRA Brussels.


After several years of working with multiple curators, for different types of exhibitions, it was decided to take a different approach in 2019 and ask only one curator to fill De Studio’s chambers.

Antwerp Art Weekend invited Petra Heck to create a program and she presented ‘Conversing Motherboards’, a project consisting of video and performative works by artists Josefin Arnell, Rory Pilgrim, Janis Rafa, Amber Vanluffelen, Valerie van Zuijlen and Raphaela Vogel. ‘Conversing Motherboards’ came from a line of poetry by Carol R. Kallend, the central narrator to Rory Pilgrim’s music video album. Key themes that recur through his album ‘Software Garden’ include the boundaries between the human, artificial, organic, technological, political, poetic and spiritual. As Software Garden attempts to offer a meeting point where ‘all the hearts of our motherboards converse’, Petra took two words out as a title for the show since she is, like Rory, interested in the point in which these boundaries could touch. In ‘Conversing Motherboards’ she attempted to create an unstable platform by presenting these artists as a counter image towards dominating binary relations. To be able to expand ideas around gender, behaviour and sex, not trying to solve paradoxes or having multiple visions collapse, but to trouble oneself, their ideas and dreams. To express the differences and similarities between everything and everyone (animals, nature, human beings), of ‘being in touch’ as the American feminist theorist Karen Barad would say.


The curator for the 2020 edition of the Antwerp Art Weekend was going to be the artist duo and Brussels based exhibition space Deborah Bowmann. As this edition has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 induced lock down measures taken by the government of Belgium, we have decided to refresh their mandate in 2021.

Deborah Bowmann is a functional gallery space, which focusses heavily on scenography and the transformation of the exhibition space, as every exhibition in their repertoire looks completely different. It is from that angle that Antwerp Art Weekend has asked them to do the same with the largest space De Studio houses, a giant black box on the ground floor. Without giving away too much of what’s going to go down next year, expect a theatrical exhibition experience that activiates each and every one of your senses. We’re already excited.