Archive 2015

Elvis and Jesus, 1986 © Jeffrey Silverthorne, courtesy Galerie VU’
Elvis and Jesus, 1986 © Jeffrey Silverthorne, courtesy Galerie VU’

20.02.15 - 07.06.15

Jeffrey Silverthorne - The Precision of Silence

The exhibition Silverthorne – The Precision of Silence is the first European retrospective of the work of American photographer Jeffrey Silverthorne (°1946). Using polaroids, staged shots, portraits and work that borders on documentary in style, Silverthorne playfully explores such diverse subjects as death, sex and old age.

Silverthorne’s photographic stomping grounds range from mortuaries to brothels, motel rooms, the studio and his family life. The exploration of the limits of body and mind is central to his work. By bringing together his entire oeuvre, Silverthorne’s desire to reveal the invisible, such as private thoughts, desires, obsessions and memories, becomes palpable.

At first sight, Silverthorne’s work can seem sensationalist and the photographer could be accused of exhibitionism and voyeurism. But when the viewer looks more closely, the reserve and vulnerability of Silverthorne himself becomes apparent.

Silverthorne’s work is consistent with that of his contemporaries, including Diane Arbus, Frederick Sommer, Harry Callahan and Robert Frank. This first European retrospective and catalogue aims to give this photographer the recognition his work deserves. The exhibition was organised in collaboration with Musée Nicéphore Niépce and Galerie VU'.

20.02.15 - 07.06.15

Mathieu Pernot: La Traversée 

La Traversée takes us on a journey into the multifaceted photographic work of French documentary maker Mathieu Pernot (°1970). He analyses our contemporary society using both archival sources and his own photographs: the themes of emigration, social housing and homelessness run like leitmotifs through his work. However, Pernot is not interested in presenting one-sided interpretations and his images evoke the constant flux that is the reality of life.

There is an underlying sense of transition in the work: from freedom to captivity, from illegal to legal, from public to private, and from one country to another. There is no stasis in this “Crossing”. The work of Pernot is, therefore, nomadic and fragile, both in subject (mainly gypsies), in form (photographs, archive material, objects and audio clips) and in time (individuals who appeared in earlier pictures return in altered circumstances many years later).

The exhibition presents a selection taken from various Mathieu Pernot series from the past twenty years. There is almost a cartographic dimension created by the interrelationships between individuals, places, moments in time and story lines. Everything seems to be connected in this dialogue, by order and by chaos.

The exhibition was organised by Jeu de Paume, Paris, in collaboration with Fotomuseum Antwerp.


20.02.15 - 07.06.15

Yann Mingard - Deposit

The documentary project Deposit by the Swiss photographer Yann Mingard (°1973) confronts us with provocative and germane questions about the current state, sustainability and future of life on earth. Can we control life on the planet by collecting and storing genetic, biological and human information? Mingard went on a journey of discovery and brought back images of four types of stored information: Plants, Animals, Humans and Data.

From 2009 to 2013, Mingard visited 21 locations in Europe where organic and digital  data are gathered and stored. He photographed both the interior spaces of these seed banks, vaults and laboratories and the organisms themselves, the containers they are stored in and the instruments used for development and research.

But for what purpose is living matter being stored on such a grand scale? Is it to create resistant plants, to clone animals, to eliminate human disease? Why are companies and individuals storing digital data in secure bunkers?

Tellingly, Mingard had great difficulty gaining access to the storage locations. His images thus capture the paradoxical nature of these places: in order to protect and preserve life, it is hidden away in containers and closely-guarded bunkers that are sealed off from the outside world. His darkened, large-format photographs convey the secretiveness and the inaccessibility of this natural heritage.

Deposit is a collaboration between Fotomuseum Winterthur, Museum Folkwang, Essen, Fotomuseum Antwerp and GwinZegal, Guincamp. With support from the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.

26.06.15 - 04.10.15

Mijn vlakke land: On photography and landscape

This summer, FOMU takes you on a visual journey through unspoiled nature and poses the question: Is it possible to recreate the sensation of hiking within the walls of a museum? When we go for a walk, we experience a succession of impressions that melt almost imperceptibly into each other. The exhibition Mijn Vlakke Land (My Flat Land) is a photographic montage that features works from 1856 to 2015 by over 50 artists from Belgium and abroad.

The ambivalence of landscape is at the heart of the exhibition, from safe haven to an experience of the sublime. Rather than a presentation of contemporary or historic points of view, the exhibition is conceived as an associative tour through nature. The only human presence is that of the photographer, who attempts to capture a personal vision of the natural scenery. Can an artist hold their own in such a poetic encounter with the elements?

Music lovers will recognise the reference to Jacques Brel in the title of this exhibition. Alongside the tribute to Brel’s lush ode to the Low Countries, flat also refers to an inevitable physical characteristic of photography. A photograph is a two-dimensional object on to which we project desires and expectations. The summer exhibition is thus more of a hymn to the romantic landscapes of our hearts and imaginations than to the actual Flemish countryside.

26.06.15 - 04.10.15

Jan Rosseel - Belgian Autumn. A Confabulated History

In the early 1980s, Belgium experienced a collective nightmare. A group known as the Brabant Killers committed a series of robberies, mainly of supermarkets, involving unprecedented violence. Thirty years later, Rosseel delves into the country’s memories of the events to create a confabulated history. 

Belgian Autumn does not set out to reconstruct the facts. Rosseel combines evidence from police archives and photographs of key locations with fictional characters. He skims the surface of the “truth” and points to the impossibility of providing a credible account: by mimicking the official criminal investigation, this work acts as a scathing commentary or indictment of how the case was handled. No one was, and in all likelihood ever will be, convicted for the murders. Numerous procedural errors, lost or destroyed documents, alleged political involvement and cover-ups: the list of reprehensible aspects of the case goes on and on.

Rosseel uses witness testimonies and memories to approach the topic. Rosseel’s own father was one of the murder victims. Belgian Autumn is a subjective narrative that while it refreshes our memory also provides space for new memories and new stories.

Jan Rosseel (BE, °1979) studied photography at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague (NL) and the Danish School of Media and Journalism in Aarhus (DK). The book Belgische Herfst, published by Hannibal, is being launched to coincide with the exhibition.

26.06.15 - 22.10.15

Cédric Gerbehaye - D'entre eux

What does it mean to belong somewhere? After years of shooting documentaries in remote areas of conflict, he is now concentrating on his compatriots, the people with whom he belongs, the people with whom he should be.

Gerbehaye doesn’t look at Belgium per se. He looks at people and sees tenderness, fear, despair and consolation. He sees uncertain times, sorrow for what has been lost and fears for the future. In D’entre eux, he looks for the truth, the weight of which can be hard to bear. He depicts how we work, play, celebrate and wait, how we manage to carry on and who we love. He observes his countrymen as one of them and asks the viewer to do the same. With gentle insistence, he places us among them. Or is it among ourselves?

Cédric Gerbehaye (BE, °1977) is a documentary photographer and a member of l'Agence VU. He is the author of several long-term projects including Congo in Limbo (the Democratic Republic of Congo), Broken Hopes (Middle East) and Land of Cush(South Sudan).

The exhibition D’entre eux is a collaboration between FOMU and Mons 2015, European Capital of Culture. A book of the same name is being launched by publishers Le bec en l’air éditions to coincide with the exhibition.

23.10.2015 - 14.02.2016

August Sander - Masterpieces and Discoveries

August Sander (DE, 1876-1964) is considered one of the most influential photographers of the last century. With his conceptual portrait series People of the 20th Century, he set out to provide a record of the social order of the age. As iconic as his portraits are of 'the pastry cook, 1928', 'the farmers, 1914', 'the revolutionaries, 1929' and so on, to reduce his life's work to this well-known portrait series would be to do Sander an injustice.

In addition to a selection from People of the 20th Century, the exhibition is displaying a kaleidoscopic retrospective of different themes spanning five decades: cityscapes of Cologne before and after World War II, German landscapes, botanical studies, commissioned work for the industrial sector and much more. The exhibition presents both famous and never-before-exhibited masterpieces and series by August Sander and includes over three hundred original prints.

This major exhibition was organised in partnership with Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur, Cologne.




23.10.2015 - 14.02.2016

Jan Hoek - Shooting Stars

Jan Hoek (NL, °1984) inhabits terrain that borders on the controversial. He is interested in photographing people without exploiting them. His models deviate from the conventional. For example, there is Kim, a homeless, former heroin addict whom he encountered on the streets of Amsterdam: her dream of becoming a supermodel is not likely to be fulfilled. He removes the Sweet Crazies (homeless Ethiopians with mental health problems) from their context and portrays them as majestic men against colourful, noble backdrops.

Hoek finds his models on the street, through the internet and among his circle of friends. The outcome of a shoot will largely depend on what the models themselves want. How do they wish to appear? What are their hopes and dreams?

But can a photographer meet these expectations? And can photography ever be ethical? Jan Hoek provides a sharp focus on the debate. He holds up a mirror to both photographers and their audience and challenges us to take a stance. His work is straightforward but it also joins the conversation about a medium that is still fundamentally misunderstood.