Catherine Lampo

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‘(Not) sorry, we’re closed’

Our group visits still cannot be restarted. Fortunately, we can continue to count on our guides. These fascinating storytellers also guide you into the museum via the digital route. Today, our guide is Catherine Lampo.

“For the past two months, S.M.A.K. has unfortunately been closed due to the coronavirus safety measures. A museum shutting its doors for weeks on end: it still seems unreal. It reminds me of that other time, thirteen years ago, when S.M.A.K. was inactive for a month due to the construction of Paul McCarthy’s sensational solo exhibition. An inner wall even had to be demolished to make way for a gigantic pirate ship. I’d only just started as a guide and then, all of a sudden, there were no more bookings, no more visitors in the galleries.

Speaking of which: what an exhibition to make your debut with as a guide! American artist Paul McCarthy loves excesses and really lets rip. His work is a magnification of our consumer society. In 2007, he took over the entire museum with lifelike sculptures, from a pig to a hyper-realistic image of himself, and a relentless stream of hyperkinetic video projections. Ideally, all these things would be in the same room. The attendants wore headphones to block out the cacophony of sound, and they changed rooms every hour. The spectator was sucked into a tsunami of impressions.

I cautiously watched the reactions of the interested people in my groups. As it turned out, they were always incredibly excited. The media circus had awakened their curiosity. Many wanted to see the inflatable ketchup bottle on the roof of the S.M.A.K. with their own eyes. Or check whether you really could see the pink pig – a sculpture for the sake of clarity – breathing softly. Or to stroll through the garden with the indecent figures. Even the schools, briefed in advance about the shocking content, were undeterred and came in droves. In short, the public didn’t allow itself to be crushed by the orchestrated chaos. Here and there, you saw someone chuckling at the cook hurling food around with ever-increasing abandon, or at the ketchup sandwich, from which litres of sauce dripped between glass plates. Years later, you can still see the traces of the corrosive acid on the floor. There was even room for reflection in this visual orgy: there were always the courageous ones, leaning against the wall, who took their time to process the most challenging films. The moral of the story for a brand new guide: never underestimate the public. Sometimes it pays to keep the museum closed for a month. Hopefully it will be an equally intense reunion with art in the coming weeks. Kris Martin knows what to do.”

Catherine Lampo

Catherine Lampo is responsible for contemporary art programming at the cultural education organisation Amarant and has been a guide in S.M.A.K. for many years.


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.

4.Jun.20 Category: Don't forget the guide
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