ROMA Publications 1998-2005

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ROMA Publications was founded in 1999 by the designer Roger Willems and the artist Mark Manders, and takes an alternative approach to printed matter. 

That which is usually described as graphic design and visual communication, ROMA Publications sees as a complex apparatus situated between design, art and curatorship. ROMA Publications is an independent platform which always operates on the basis of the conditions of the printed media, but without accepting their limitations. Their catalogue, which already comprises more than 50 titles, consists of artists’ books, posters, catalogues, magazines, websites, special editions, etc. Parallel to the presentation of these publications ROMA Publications will also organise a happening with poets and artists. In addition to the creation of a mural by the Dutch artist Bart Lodewijks, a video installation by the French artist Nicolas Floc’h will also be exhibited. The whole presentation, as well as the exhibition of Kees Goudzwaard, is a reflection on the concept of stratification.

Roma Publications was founded by designer Roger Willems and artist Mark Manders, who wanted to establish an autonomous publishing house that creates books in close collaboration with artists, poets (including e.g. Marije Langelaar) and designers. Each publication has its own look and is distributed through its own the proper channels. The publications vary from newspapers to exclusive books and the number of copies printed may range from 2 to 150 000. Roma Publications has worked with a variety of artists, including Marc Nagtzaam, Geert Goiris, Inaki Bonillas, Mark Manders, Marije Langelaar and Kees Goudzwaard.

The museum shows publications created by Roma during the period 1998-2005. The presentation includes a large number of new publications that have as yet not been shown to the public. Furthermore, the artists Nicolas Floc'h and Bart Lodewijks (who have worked with Roma Publications on earlier occasions) will respectively show a film and create a wall drawing. On the occasion of this exhibition Roma also publishes an “Open Days” publication that not only links poets and visual artists, but also establishes a link with the collection of the S.M.A.K. Moreover, at the inauguration of the exhibition poets will read from their work and a new CD by Wouter van Riessen will be presented to the public. In the art magazine Kunst Nu we present a choice of the new publications that are presented for the first time in the S.M.A.K. Each Roma publication bears a serial number that refers to the moment at which it was decided to produce it (though the actual production may be delayed for some time). Nicolas Floc'h, Monochromes, 2004 video, colour, 21 min On the occasion of the exhibition Roma Publications 1998-2005 Nicolas Floc'h presents the video Monochromes (2004). In this film shades of gray are poured over a white space until the entire surface of the space/the screen is covered with the new monochrome shade. The alternation of the white, black and grey hues result in a play of images or colours that appear and disappear, a play of depth-effects and strange variations of scale. The work is a reflection on the “monochrome painting”. Because the projection screen leans against the wall like a canvas, the work is at once painting, sculpture, video and installation. Roma Publications publishes a book about the work of Nicolas Floc'h on the occasion of this exhibition. Bart Lodewijks refers to his work as “comments on the world”. Lodewijks draws with chalk or charcoal on walls in public spaces. To create these minimal line compositions, he looks for places that are without particular character, that have fallen in disuse or that have been neglected. For his subtle interventions in public spaces he prefers unsightly or forgotten “leftover spaces” in urban surroundings. The fact that the drawings will be erased by rain and the passing of time is an inherent part of their character. In the S.M.A.K. the artist has created a wall drawing that stretches over the walls of an entire room of the museum. The lines suggest a sort of perspective that results from observing the room and its peculiar qualities, but the play of lines never departs from the history of a certain place. The drawing in the museum is but one element of this work. Another element is the quest for a “leftover place” in the inner city of Ghent, for a place that is the opposite of the white museum space, a space in which art can be experienced. Lodewijks created two chalk drawings in the Stoofstraat and the Zandpoortstraat, one on the cobblestones, the other on an empty building—ephemeral interventions that constitute a counterpart to the drawing in the museum.

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