06.02.09 – 07.06.09
EyeCandy – 1984-2009 – Erwin Olaf
Erwin Olaf [º1959, Hilversum] is by far the best known and most controversial Dutch photographer. He is successful both on the gallery and museum circuit and in the world of advertising. Olaf's international breakthrough came in 1988 with his series Chessman which was awarded first prize in the Young European Photographer competition. Since then he has depicted gender, sensuality, humour, despair and grace in various photo series.
His early work was in a black and white documentary style. He
subsequently introduced colour and digital manipulation into his
pictures. The series Royal blood  caused a real stir. A
striking example is the photo in which a woman portrays Princess Diana
with a bleeding Mercedes badge on her arm. His recent work includes
tranquil images barely manipulated at all.
Apart from photography, Olaf has also created video art and films ranging from comic clips for a children's programme to short documentaries and independent films. Olaf is a master at attracting attention. This has not gone unnoticed by the advertising world. Olaf's works include advertising commissions for Lavazza, BMW, Microsoft, Nintendo and many others. In 2008 he was awarded the Lucie Award for advertising photography in New York.
In 2009 Erwin Olaf will be 50 and can look back on 30 years as a photographer. The retrospective exhibition at the Fotomuseum offers you a mixture of old photographic works and video installations. A real roller-coaster ride through the works of Erwin Olaf.
06.02.09 – 07.06.09
East of Que Village – Yang Fudong
Yang Fudong [º1971, Beijing] trained as a painter at the Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou. In the late 90s, he switched from painting to the medium of film and video and soon became one of the leading contemporary Chinese artists.
With the installation East of Que Village , the Chinese artist Yang Fudong wishes to paint a picture of contemporary rural China, particularly the daily struggle for survival in the harsh environment of relentlessly advancing urbanisation. The image of this installation consists of a video on six channels in which a group of wild dogs fights to survive. The landscape, somewhere in the north of China, is desolate and barren and forms the backdrop for a desperate fight for life and death. The sporadic presence of humans in Fudong's installation reflects the struggle between the dogs. The artist also tries to define the role of the individual in a society that seems to ignore that individual.
East of Que Village is part of a series of exhibitions with the theme of visual culture, developed jointly by the MuHKA and the FOMU for the 4th floor.
06.02.09 – 16.01.10
Collection Presentation 03 – Photography in Belgium Between the Wars
Although it was relatively short, the period between the two world wars was a time of sweeping social changes. Developments in photography reflect this. The greater purchasing power of the population and major technical innovations brought photography within reach of larger and larger sections of the population. New amateur photographic societies were formed in many towns. Within these groups a fierce conflict arose between 'traditionalists' and 'modernists'. The arguments were fuelled by the many specialist journals. These were also turbulent times for professional photography. Traditional portrait studios frequently struggled. As a result they concentrated on selling photographic products. On the other hand, totally new areas opened up. Newspapers and magazines devoted more and more space to photographic illustrations. The number of press photographers increased greatly as a result and fashion and advertising photography grew in importance. The photographic creations of artists such as René Magritte, Paul Nougé, Raoul Ubac, Marcel Lefrancq, Michel Seuphor and René Guiette should be mentioned here.
This exhibition is entirely made up of photographs, objects and documents from the FOMU's own collection.
Vincen Beeckman - Made in Strombeek
The young Belgian photographer Vincent Beeckman [º1973, Schaarbeek] is a true jack-of-all-trades. He engages with diverse worlds and shifts effortlessly from socio-artistic projects and integrations in the public realm to independent work. He filmed residents of the Marollen, asking to record their lives.
Beeckman's candid view of the various facets of photography is disarming. In the Fotomuseum Gallery, Beeckman presents an associative compilation of his multifaceted work including photos, texts and drawings. The final piece and most recent series is a personal retrospective on the town of his birth, Strombeek. Inevitably, these seemingly direct and spontaneous snapshots have an undertone of uneasiness and 'vanity', they radiate a combination of beauty and decay.
23.04.09 – 07.06.09
Jimmy Kets - Brightside
In ‘Brightside’ Jimmy Kets follows roaming individuals in their lonely search for happiness, satisfaction and a carefree existence. The journey leads to holiday paradises and fun fairs, from Disney Land to Las Vegas, via erotica exhibitions and zoos.
Kets is the amused outsider. He gazes dreamily, but not without a message. He shows the small things that make us human. The footing and happiness we are all looking for. Our desires and insatiable lust.
Jimmy Kets [°1979] is press photographer for "De Standaard" newspaper with an impressive blossoming career. He was awarded the Nikon Press Photo Award 2008 and, to coincide with the exhibition, the book "Brightside" about his work will be published by Ludion publishers.
19.06.2009 - 13.09.2009
Nick Hannes – Red Journey
In 2007 and 2008, Nick Hannes travelled across the former Soviet Union by bus and train. For a period of four seasons he journeyed in search of remnants of the region’s Communist past and signs of recent social transition and evolutions in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Moldavia, the Ukraine, Byelorussia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.
All of them once satellites of the Russian Empire, the fifteen ex-Soviet republics have in the course of the past 20 years evolved into different directions. Nonetheless, striking similarities persist amongst these divergent countries. Within the ex-Soviet Union, nostalgic sentiment is never far away. Not so much because it was better in the old times but because it was at least experienced as better than what is offered in the present.
Nick Hannes (Antwerp, 1974) is a freelance photographer and guest lecturer at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent. A series of photos from his “Red Journey” has this year been awarded with the Nikon Press Photo Award 2008.
As a complement to the photographic exhibition, visitors can purchase the book of similar title ‘Red Journey’. It is published by the Publishing House Lannoo.
19.06.09 - 13.09.09
‘Theatres of the Real’ – Contemporary British Post-Documentary Photography
The theatre is a vast theme in British documentary photography. Photographers such as Bill Brandt [1930s and ‘40s], Tony Ray-Jones [‘60s] and Martin Parr [‘80s and ‘90s] capture the most diverse, colourful characters against the backdrop of [sub]urban Britain. These characters often portray the class struggle. They play on the contrast between extreme wealth and grinding poverty or depict the failed ambitions of the middle classes.
For Theatres of the Real, curators David Green and Joanna Lowry have selected several promising photographers who are reinventing British documentary photography. The line between reality and fiction, between the scenario presented and the documentary item is blurred. The photos by Annabel Elgar, Mitra Tabrizian, Nigel Shaffran, Danny Treacy, Sarah Dobai, Tom Hunter, Claire Strand and Sarah Pickering give a hallucinatory vision of contemporary Britain. We recognise the confusing reality in a poignant but also comic manner: commercial and professional globalisation, bankers and hard-working people. But also: aimless youths, deserted inner cities and the losers in our society. They portray these contrasts with vivid imagination and subtle irony. We find that photography is most powerful when it shows us how fragile and fleeting are the roles we play every day.
19.06.09 - 13.09.09
Baghdad Calling / Why Mister, Why? – Geert Van Kesteren
No one can have missed the dramatic pictures of the invasion of Iraq and the fall of Saddam Hussein's despised, corrupt regime. Iraq dominated the news for months and is still doing so. Since operation Desert Fox , Geert van Kesteren [born in 1966 in IJsselstein] has documented this war with powerful series of images. He will be exhibiting his Iraq projects at the FOMU in the summer of 2009. The exhibition goes one step further than the media, giving an intensely personal view of this war, to which human beings are central.
Kesteren's international breakthrough came in 2004 with Why Mister, Why? . In cinematic sequences and a rapid snapshot style, he conveys the incomprehension and miscommunication between soldiers and civilians. The book has been received very well both in the West and in Arab countries.
Peace has still not come to Iraq and millions of refugees have fled to Jordan, Syria, Turkey and the Kurdish region in Northern Iraq. Van Kesteren has focused on these refugees. For many, their mobile phone became a digital photo album with personal pictures of home. These photos and the stories behind them are the basis for his new project Baghdad Calling . This exhibition represents a major innovative advancement in photojournalism for Van Kesteren.
25.09.09 – 03.01.10
Rambling across Europe - Michiel Hendryckx
Michiel Hendryckx: I'm 22 and visiting Paris for the first time. I find a cheap hotel room near the Bastille. For a week I wander aimlessly around the French capital. I hardly visit any of the sights. That's for later. The only way to really get to know a city, a country or a continent is to wander around it. Just as I first saw Paris, so I discovered Europe. Roaming around endlessly in a car, on a motorbike or on foot. In 1991 I walked from Ghent to Mount Olympus in Greece. I saw the war in the Balkans during my walk. Thanks to the publishers, Lannoo, and the Antwerp Fotomuseum, my European rambles have now become a photo project. All of the photos were taken specially for this project and have never been exhibited anywhere else. They are everyday images of Europe on the road. Calm and unsensational. Showing what is going on in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and how pleasant the scenery is between Châteauroux and Issoudun. Besides these random images, I also visited 'sacred' places that help us to understand our past. I travelled back to places I had visited before and which remained in my memory as reference points. Oradour-sur-Glane, Chartres, Birkenau, the Loire ... "Rambling across Europe" is an intimate record of a long journey.
25.09.09 – 03.01.10
Infantization – Europalia China
Infantization brings together a selection of the most representative works of young artists – the Gelatin Generation – from all over China. Besides photography it also includes paintings, animation, video, installations, cartoons, graffiti and digital projections.
The Gelatin Generation is the first generation to grow up in the limitless world of computers. They see themselves as citizens of a 'global village', free of cultural and economic restrictions. Their artworks are characterised by colourful shapes and narratives, incorporating themes and figures from the consumer culture. New media are prominently represented in their work. Due to a strong desire to break free from the restrictive expectations of centuries old Chinese traditions, the primary aim of the Gelatin Generation is a simple, financially successful and happy life. The flipside of this attitude is the possibility of superficial eccentricity and an artistic and spiritual vacuum.
Infantization depicts how this generation faces up to the prevailing commercial trends and how it contributes to the development of a multimedia visual culture that is characteristic of 21st century China.
This projection is a collaboration with the Shanghai Art Museum and europalia.china.
Julien Vandevelde - Eine zerstörte Landschaft
In ‘Eine zerstörte Landschaft’ [Disrupted Landscape] Julien Vandevelde outlines the decline and desolation of the border region between East and West Germany ten years after reunification. He photographed the track of the Iron Curtain, still present in the landscape. Again and again a road tiled with concrete slabs emerges, the so-called ‘Kolonnenweg’ [Border Patrol Path], which still today evokes the patrols of the border police along this route.
This exhibition is the final part of Vandevelde’s trilogy on the evolution in Germany after the fall of the Wall. Before, he made ‘De Wonde van een Stad’ [The Wound of a City], ‘Tekens en Symbolen uit de DDR’ [Signs and symbols from the GDR] and the film ‘Littekens’ [Scars], an encounter with seven inhabitants of East Berlin. Photographer-filmmaker Julien Vandevelde [°1942, Merelbeke] taught photography and film at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Gent from 1969 to 1998. He made documentary films about art and artists (including Jan Hoet, Dirk Braeckman and Carl De Keyzer, Philippe Vandenberg) and is the founder of the ‘Cavalier Seul’ production studio.
Piet Goethals - Images of Belgian Cinema. Made in Flanders
Piet Goethals (BE, °1959) specialises in portraits of directors (theatre and film), choreographers, artists, actors and musicians. Piet Goethals works as a film- and art critic. As well as a photographer.
He published and publishes photographs in several newspapers and magazines in Belgium and abroad, such as: ‘Knack’, ‘Feeling’, ‘Trends’, ‘Gentleman’, ‘Weekend’, ‘Deng’, ‘Teek’, ‘Cahiers du Cinéma’, ‘Parkett’, ‘Studio’, ‘Première’, ‘Wire’, ‘Notes’, ‘De Standaard Magazine’, ‘De Tijd’, ‘De Morgen’, ‘Deze Week in Brussel’ en ‘Télé Moustique’.
Danny Veys - Coal is black
For his narrative report 'Coal is bLack’ Danny Veys works like an accomplished tracker in Donbass, the mining region of Ukraine. From as close a distance as possible the photographer tries to approach the world of miners in striking black and white photos. Veys tries to take the viewer beyond the established associations on the life of miners. He manages to capture the good and the bad of this kind of life. There is room for beauty and ballet, and because it is so rare among the iron structures and coffins, it gains in strength. For the photographer the mines offer an opportunity to portray lives, in their smallest actions, with a suspicion of grand gestures in the background.
Danny Veys (BE, °1970) is a member of Photolimits, a photographers’
platform, specializing in social documentary photography. Members
focus on social phenomena such as cultural, economic and social
tensions, ecology, religion, ... He also teaches photography at the
Hogeschool Sint Lukas Brussels. Veys preferably works on long term
projects. His work has been published in Private Photo Review,
Obscuur, Focus and other specialized magazines.
Danny Veys worked for ‘Coal is black’ with COALFACE.