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Andriesse ~ Eyck gallery opens the season with echoes and traces, a solo exhibition of new work by Lidwien van de Ven.

Lidwien van de Ven is known primarily as a photographer. Her work critically explores the boundary between reality and representation in both recent events and (near) forgotten histories. For many years, she has been working steadily on an ongoing series of black-and-white photographs, which are taken at night with an analogue 4 x 5 inch camera, and portray formal and informal monuments in their public habitat.

The exhibition Echoes and Traces reflects Van de Ven’s fascination with the appearance and disappearance of ‘history’: What is (still) visible and what is erased or forgotten? What are the formal and informal connections that construct the fabric of our history? And how do current events continuously animate the past? Van de Ven addresses these questions through her photography, and observes: ‘My photographs are like intersections of historical lines with current events.’

This interaction is clearly discernible in the photo Ekeren, 05/06/2020 (Leopold). It shows the partially charred statue of King Leopold II outside the St. Lambertus Church in Ekeren, Antwerp. Shortly before, red paint had been hurled at the statue in protest at King Leopold’s role in the brutal colonial regime in the Congo. In 2020, in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, renewed protests ensued, and the statue was set on fire and damaged so severely that the local authorities decided to remove it some days later. Ekeren, 05/06/2020 (Leopold) eloquently evokes the power of a monument to bring the past into the present while simultaneously absorbing contemporary histories.

The same interplay between past and present also manifests in the series of small, white photographs the artist made of the Marx-Engels Forum in Berlin. The monument was erected in 1986 by the GDR; the larger-than-life statues of Marx and Engels are accompanied by large steel pillars that feature etchings depicting the 100-year history of the labour movement. Van de Ven photographed the scenes ‘close to the skin’, so we have no difficulty seeing how time has left its mark (erosion), and how also the images have been scratched, some almost to the point of obliterating the original depiction. Daylight sometimes strikes the metal surface in such a way that light and dark become inverted, lending the photographs an even greater resemblance to negatives, or echo scans.

Echoes and traces is a carefully compiled exhibition in which the interaction of historical lines is visual and palpable in the echo between the works. Van de Ven investigates, photographs and presents, creating space for new interpretations and perspectives on an under-exposed chapter of our history.

Parallel to the exhibition echoes and traces, andriesse ~ eyck gallery is presenting a selection of older and new work by Van de Ven at UNSEEN photo fair (15 – 18 September)

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