Freek Wambacq (b. 1978) graduated from the St Luke’s Polytechnic in Brussels in 2000, where he studied in the experimental studio.
In his visual work Freek Wambacq focuses on architecture and infrastructure. He observes and draws inspiration from the environments and situations he encounters. In his site-specific installations, the given spaces are subtly transformed and stripped down to their architectural bones, to which sculpture is then added. The objects that form part of the installation lose their function but retain their own special identity. The empty or isolated objects and elements appear to indicate a different reality, a different ‘past’ or ‘future’. They bear the traces of aspects which are usually invisible in an exhibition context. Freek Wambacq uses what he sees around him, such as things in storage, things clumsily concealed, and structures that cannot be seen. With a logic of his own he appropriates these elements and uses them in his own sculptural idiom. The question ‘when is something art’ does not play an important part; Wambacq focuses on what surrounds the work of art. A work of art is often reduced to its support: a panoramic scene of systems for hanging paintings, empty Perspex pedestals in a display cabinet, a series of empty numbered mounts, etc. The support forms the essential element that exists between the work of art and the space. In a museum context too, he abandons the existing context and thinks about how ‘presentation’ works. For example, in previous exhibitions he used the existing wall system to make a column construction that could be placed between floor and ceiling. He used this structure to present the work of another artist in the group exhibition. Wambacq’s arrangements/installations appear on the periphery of art or on the periphery of the exhibition. The interventions or additions to the environment do not force themselves on the observer; they do not pretend to be special or visually attractive objects requiring special attention. They exist by virtue of a constant exchange between present and absent.
For Kunst Nu at SMAK, Freek Wambacq starts by analysing the elements that determine a typical exhibition space, and plays with this. The spotlights are not on the art objects themselves, but become the subject of a spatial arrangement. Things which are generally not visible in the space, such as lighting, cables, heating, electricity, etc. These elements are incorporated into the installation. There is a certain criticism of what is called the white box, but it is playfully transcended. The installation is more than just an analysis of the contextual elements. Indeed, he includes them in a new sculpture. Freek Wambacq plays with the infrastructure and depicts the way the lighting is fitted: the lights are placed above and below the structure of the false ceiling. The fitting system is deprived of its functionality and floats in space like an architectural sculpture. Other exhibition attributes, such as empty display cabinets, are given a place in this setting: the space is somewhere draughty and the subtle presence of air makes one more aware of the space. Selection of exhibitions: Opbouwend, Cultuurcentrum Strombeek (2004), Grasduinen 02, Bredene (2004), Temporary Monument for David McComb, STUK Leuven (2004), Sketch Musical,More about Freek Wambacq