How exactly did our Association of Friends come into being and how did it function in the early years? These are questions that are answered by researcher Koen Brams. In a long-term research project for S.M.A.K., he is delving into the genesis and development history of our museum collection. In 2018, he created the exhibition 'Believe in Your Time' and in the magazine 'Documents & Arguments', you can learn everything about this often eventful past through detailed essays, thorough interviews and countless unique documents and photos.
The first issue of 'Documents & Arguments', the new research journal on the history of the Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (S.M.A.K.), is devoted to the founding of the Vereniging voor het Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst (V.M.H.K.) - the driving force behind the establishment of the Museum of Contemporary Art, now the S.M.A.K. - and its first chairman, Karel J. Geirlandt (1919-'89). How did he get the idea to found the V.M.H.K. in 1957? In order to answer this question, it proved necessary to put Geirlandt's largely unwritten biography on paper.
The first issue looks at the period from 1919 to 1960 - the year in which Karel Geirlandt acted as curator for the first time and staged the 'Contrast' exhibition in Blankenberge Casino.
The second volume of 'Documents & Arguments' zooms in on the first four working years of the V.M.H.K. (1957-'60). Starting from the observation that the V.M.H.K. almost from the very beginning served not only local interests, but was also an organisation with a national agenda, the book also looks at numerous other initiatives that were set up in Belgium in the second half of the 1950s: G 58, The Modernist Centre, Taptoe, Raaklijn and Celbeton. Attention is also paid to the attempts at cooperation that these associations made, which in 1959, partly at the instigation of Karel Geirlandt, led to the establishment of the umbrella National Centre for Modern Art.Within this historical framework, it is striking to note that the Ghent Association for the Museum of Contemporary Art was the only one with an institutional ambition, namely the establishment of a fully-fledged museum for contemporary art. The V.M.H.K. not only fulfilled this objective, it is also the only association that still exists today, albeit under a different name: the Friends of S.M.A.K.
'Documents & Arguments' contains essays, interviews with numerous witnesses (including Denise Geirlandt, Roland Jooris, Roger Matthys and Camiel Van Breedam) and numerous unique documents/photos that are being made public for the first time.
Under the title "Art at a turning point", a further exhibition on the history of the museum will take place in MSK and S.M.A.K. in May 2021.