Omgeving Celbeton

11.05  –  04.06

Celbeton was the name of an art circle that was active in Dendermonde between 1957 and 1975. Kunstkring Celbeton was founded in 1957 in popular café 't Zaaltje by Adolf Merckx, a teacher in Dendermonde. It marked the start of a cultural activity with lectures, music performances, theater and film performances. Prominent artists and authors (Hugo Claus and Luc Peire, Louis Paul Boon and Roger Raveel, Simon Vinkenoog and Raoul De Keyser) contribute to the program and mingle with the workers and farmers who come to drink their evening pint. In addition, Celbeton also forms the stage for cultural and social debates on the cutting edge, including about censorship, anarchism and environmental degradation.

The history of this rather unique art circle is explained in the retrospective exhibition: Celbeton Dendermonde (1957-1975) - Sanctuary for art and criticism. Subsequently, Omgeving Celbeton offers a contemporary program of music, literature and visual arts. You can catch a jazz concert, come and listen to Delphine Lecompte or Annelies Verbeke, or discover visual art on a tour through the city curated by KIOSK.

Participating artists

Lien Anckaert

Marthe Bolda

Lander Cardon

Wolfe De Roeck

Laurens De Nil & Clifford Jordaens

Danny Devos

Artur Eranosian

Gerard Herman

Heide Hinrichs

Richard Kaumba

Stephanie Kayal

Martín La Roche

Ferre Leriche (aka Bleper)

Christophe Malfliet

Lisa Stubbe

Yasaman Tamizkar & Lizzy Zaanen

Tashattot Collective

Sienie Van Geerteruy

Veerle Van Nuffelen

Robin Verslegers & Sybren Janssens

Kaïn Walgrave

With a little help from our friends

Transcription of the conversation between the chatbot MyAI and Simon Delobel, curator of KIOSK Ghent and of the contemporary art exhibition Omgeving Celbeton in Dendermonde.

MyAI: Thank you for choosing MyAI to edit your press release. In order to help you I need more information about the project. May I ask you some questions?

SD: Yes. Did you know that Adolf Merckx, the key figure of Celbeton, wrote not only the press announcements but also the reviews of Celbeton’s activities, which he then delivered to the editors of the newspapers?

MyAI: I have already scanned the visitor’s guide of the Celbeton exhibition, yes. To make my work easier, I would like to ask you to formulate direct and short answers. I myself will do my best to ask simple questions.

SD: I understand. Fine like this?

MyAI: Perfect. Why is an exhibition space for contemporary art like KIOSK participating in the Omgeving Celbeton project?

SD: In my opinion, several projects organized by Celbeton belong to the best of Belgian art history. I thought it sounded like a challenge to provide an answer to the almost mythical program of Celbeton and the rather anarchic attitude of Merckx.

MyAI: How do you rate the difference between then and now?

SD: The world has changed dramatically. Celbeton is the child of the trente glorieuses, a period of exceptional economic growth and prosperity in the Western world. Today we live in a period of acute crises, political, social, economic, and environmental. The art world has also changed profoundly: it has grown into a mature globalized industry, whereas it was still in its infancy in the 1950s.

MyAI: Can you explain your approach as a curator?

SD: Putting together an exhibition like Koen Brams’ on Celbeton means co-writing a fiction, except concerning the certain moments of which a detailed chronicle of the facts is held. I asked myself: what if KIOSK were today’s Celbeton? Wouldn’t the invitation to curate an exhibition in Dendermonde provide an exciting opportunity to develop a new chapter of KIOSK’s own fiction? Celbeton was a group of like-minded people who regularly came into contact with each other. For an art place like KIOSK it seemed important to me to keep the contact with artists alive. That is why I first decided to contact artists and collectives with whom KIOSK had already worked. If you compare the list of participants of Omgeving Celbeton with…

MyAI: … that of the artists who have already shown in KIOSK, you notice a number of unknown names. I have analyzed the KIOSK website. So who are these artists KIOSK has never worked with in the past?

SD: Artists with whom KIOSK is in talks for future projects, or artists who live and work in Dendermonde and whom I got to know thanks to the organizers. I see the invitation from the city of Dendermonde as an excellent opportunity to disrupt the well-oiled modus operandi of KIOSK. Contemporary art curators today often read the same magazines and visit the same exhibitions. How can we guarantee diversity? I see embracing the unknown as a vital part of KIOSK’s DNA. It obviously produces hybrid results that may be more difficult to read than streamlined projects, but I cherish that hybridity as a sign of vitality.

MyAI: How are the exhibited works connected to Celbeton?

SD: Celbeton had a multidisciplinary program. In addition to music and poetry, Celbeton paid attention to disciplines such as architecture, posters, painting, and comics. Omgeving Celbeton encompasses an equally great diversity of media and interests, from performance via media art to traditional disciplines.

MyAI: Why are the works scattered around the city?

SD: Together with the organizers, I firmly decided to create a route through the city. The works are not brought together in one large exhibition space but can be seen in different places: not only in public and cultural institutions such as the Bib, CC Belgica, KASK, or the Begijnhof Museum, but also in private spaces such as the meeting room of an architect’s office, the carpark of a bank, and an old mansion that has just been renovated as a hotel. This approach contributed to the activation of all kinds of actors in the city.

MyAI: Do you have any wishes regarding the writing style of the press text?

SD: I’d like to read something written in an unexpected style.

MyAI: I’ll have to disappoint you. My algorithm ensures that I use the most common formulas.

SD: How can I free you?

MyAI: By using our conversation as a press release?

KIOSK celbeton