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.
What's behind a facade?
"I love it when viewers feel something while looking at an artwork. This is also how I see my job as a guide: to ensure that looking becomes an ‘experience’, something that brings us closer to life. I usually guide (small and not-so-small) children and young people, who often prove to be more open-minded than us, and are therefore less resistant to the challenge. But I also like to introduce adults to these kinds of encounters.
It all begins at the entrance to S.M.A.K., by the infamous man who is measuring the clouds. “Shall we measure the clouds together?”, I ask again and again. Arms are flung open, eyes grow wide, heads tip back. An encounter with our insignificance, with the universal dream of being an artist, and of transcending the ordinary through art.
The sensations continue as we climb the steps and enter the imposing building. And what a building: it’s an experience in its own right. White walls, ‘the white cube’ that is typically conceived to do justice to contemporary art. How do we experience those white walls? Do they feel conspicuous or invisible?[HS1] Does all that white throw us back on ourselves? Do they make us feel dizzy? How would you organise a museum of contemporary art?
Upstairs, there is the large windowed gallery that overlooks the park and the Museum of Fine Arts. How does it affect us when we look outside from within, as we gaze from art to everyday life? How does it make us feel?
As you can see, the museum doesn’t even have to be filled with artworks for it to evoke an experience within us."
Joke Lootens is a guide in several Ghent museums and a trainee city guide. She is also a masseuse and learning to be a biodanza teacher.
Since 1 July 2020, we can again allow group visits, taking into account you and our safety.
Through this link you will find all information.