Ghent, playing field of the visual arts, 1957-1987
The Letters Project

01.10

In 2022, KIOSK, together with the research group Ghent, playing field of the visual arts, 1957-1987* will focus on letters that concern Ghent—letters from or to residents of Ghent, or about the Ghent art scene. Every week for a year, a different letter will be shown at KIOSK and the context of the letter will be discussed and/or the questions it raises will be answered. The letter (or a facsimile) may be shown in conjunction with other artifacts/items which are mentioned in the letter, or which may help indicate its meaning.

Each letter will be an art-historical source, the key to a mystery, an alibi or piece of proof, a work of art and sometimes all of the above at the same time. They will reveal friendships or intrigue, show the dark side of the Ghent art world, and might suggest that the art-historical frameworks that have been built up around the city’s artists can be overhauled.

The research project deals with the landscape of the visual arts in Ghent between 1957 and 1987. Why these dates? The Association for the Museum of Contemporary Art was founded in 1957, and the Brussels World’s Fair occurred in 1958, while 1987 is the year after the Ghent “art summer,” which included, among other exhibitions, Chambres d'amis, Initiatief '86, Initiative d'Amis, and Antichambre.

The research of Ghent, playing field of the visual arts, 1957–1987 culminates in exhibitions, presentations, and bulletins made in collaboration with teachers and students from KASK. The playing field consists of individuals who gave color to art happening in Ghent in diverse ways, and is characterized by a wealth of fleeting initiatives, professional galleries, and other organizations and people who all contributed.

Through and with letters, the initiatives and protagonists from this scene return to our attention. We want to involve all Ghent residents as well as art lovers and global citizens in the project. If you have letters that provide a specific view into Ghent’s visual arts playing field, or you know about the existence of any such epistles, please do not hesitate to contact us. In particular, we are looking for letters that can be linked to the city’s art scene between 1957 and 1987. If you have relevant material, we would like to come and have a look, and perhaps show it later at KIOSK. You can contact KIOSK (simon.delobel@hogent.be) or Godart Bakkers (godart.bakkers@hogent.be).

* The group consists of Naninga Lens, Sofie Frederix, Wouter De Vleeschouwer, Koen Brams, and Godart Bakkers. For the letters project, the group is reinforced by Simon Delobel and Els Roelandt.