This is the first time the museum has invited an external curator to work on the collection.
The intention in XANADU is to show the collection in a new way, as a strange, heterogeneous assembly of objects whose presence together is often a matter of chance. But above all XANADU is meant to move us and to seek out the Rosebuds in the S.M.A.K. collection together with the visitor. XANADU came into being in dialogue with artists including Raoul De Keyser, Panamarenko, Luc Deleu, Walter Swennen, Ann Veronica Janssens, Dirk Braeckman, David Claerbout and Tamara Van San, and people who know the collection well, including Dirk Pauwels, Frank Maes, Rom Bohez and Hans Martens. Over the last few months Hans Theys has set up several trial displays in which he tried to bring together all the available works by each artist in a concentrated presentation that attempts to make visible the specific texture of the works. A number of radical spatial changes have also made it easier to get an overview of the building and have made it more hospitable. The exhibition advocates the creation of a grand Belgian collection of contemporary art that would be managed by the various museums. Flanders alone has four museums of contemporary art – S.M.A.K., M HKA, Mu.ZEE and Middelheim – all of which aspire to purchase a number of works by ‘key figures’. In other words, if one wants to get an idea of the oeuvre of an artist, one is forced to make a grand tour of Belgium, and even then you are lucky if the relevant works are not stored away in the reserves. For this exhibition, the other museums were asked to make several works available as the symbolic start of a new, collective handling of the total collection. XANADU includes work by Marcel Broodthaers, Joseph Beuys, Raoul De Keyser, Panamarenko, Bernd Lohaus, Luc Deleu and TOP Office, Walter Swennen, Thierry De Cordier, Ann Veronica Janssens, Dirk Braeckman, Koen Theys, Peter Buggenhout, David Claerbout, Tamara Van San and many others. Hans Theys