All group visits in S.M.A.K. were cancelled by COVID-19 until the end of June 2020, so the guides were also out of work for a while. All this time we didn't forget them: they remain born and fascinating storytellers, whether in the museum hall or this way.
One of my favourite works in the S.M.A.K. collection is by Ann Veronica Janssens, ‘Untitled (Blue Glitter)’. A sea of blue glitter which is elegantly and poetically strewn across the floor.
Each time this work ‘pops up’ in an exhibition, I’m always surprised by the impression that it makes on me when I enter the room that the exhibition curator has chosen for the display. The work invariably makes me curious to find out what visitors’ impressions are, and I usually ask them for their ‘first thought’ when they came into contact with the work. In this way, I’ve collected numerous associations, many of which include ‘sea, water, ocean or lagoon’, but also ‘peacock feathers, (sand)storm, northern lights, ghost, magic’ etc.
Not everyone is able to, or dares to, spontaneously attribute a word to the work.
In this sense, it sometimes sows despondency, and there is a logic to that because ‘Blue Glitter’ is a sculpture that evokes contrasts: it oscillates between energy and tranquillity, concentration and distraction, light and shade, density and transparency.
In this confusing Coronavirus epoch, I see this artwork as a metaphor for the Covid 19-virus.
Just as Ann Veronica Janssens has created such a surprising installation from a quantity of ‘ground-up raw material’ (in fact extra-finely-ground PVC), the Covid 19-virus has rather ominously distorted our lives.
The virus was not very tangible at the start (early March in Belgium’s case), but as time went on it became increasingly visible due to the steadily rising infection rates and lamentable mortality outcomes. The coronavirus also threw up huge contrasts; for a large part of the population, social life was temporarily suspended; but for others – especially those in the healthcare sector and policymakers – it became an extraordinarily busy and gruelling period. The coronavirus gave many people the opportunity to rest, to slow down and (once again) to enjoy their immediate environment. For others, particularly the sick and those close to them, it became a very intense time with a painstaking amount of rehabilitation.
The coronavirus crisis has brought despair, uncertainty and worries, whilst also creating fresh challenges and opportunities.
One visitor associated Ann Veronica Janssens’ work with ‘joie de vivre’. Well, I hope that for everyone today, the transition to the ‘new normal’ goes hand in hand with a great deal of ‘joie de vivre’.
The team of guides will, in any case, personally experience this ‘joie’ on the day that we are allowed to guide our groups of visitors through S.M.A.K. once again!
As a lawyer, An Koninckx has always been interested in art, and she has been part of the team of guides since the Michaël Buthe retrospective in 2016. An also acts as a guide alongside the artist Bie Hinnekint for the DEMO-MEMO walks for those living with dementia and their carers.
We hope to allow group visits again but this is subject to what the National Security Council will decide in the future.
Through this link you will find all information.