Category Archives: art in Antwerp

ENERGY FLASH. The Rave Movement

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Walter Van Beirendonck, Hard Beat collection, 1989-1990. Opening of the exhibition. Photo: Bram Goots for MUHKA

While i was in Antwerp a couple of weeks ago to visit Show Us the Money at the Photo Museum (i reviewed it on Monday in case you’ve missed the story), i checked out ENERGY FLASH. The Rave Movement, a M HKA exhibition which brilliantly puts the large dance party culture of the 1990s into a neat museum package.

I had already loved the catalogue of the exhibition RAVE. Rave and Its Influence on Art and Culture and i was curious to see how the show compared to the publication. It was magnificent and invigorating. I stayed there for hours and i will probably run and see any show that curator Nav Haq organizes in the future.

I thought that a review of the exhibition might sound too much like a tiresome revival of my review of the catalogue RAVE. Rave and Its Influence on Art and Culture. So instead of my usual super lengthy art reports, i’ll just fill this post with lots of images from the show. Some are mine (the ones that lack any proper credit.) Most of the others are photos from M HKA, they show the preparation of the exhibition, the opening and the final installation views. There might be a couple of comments here and there because i just can’t shut up:

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I’m not sure it had anything to do with the show but there was this giant potato frie raving right in front of the museum. Because we’re in Belgium, that’s why!

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Piece of the dancefloor from The Haçienda

M HKA had the super smart idea to hand out little booklets titled A Glossary of Rave. The publication guided the visitor through some of the key places, phenomena, style and characteristics of the rave culture: Bocaccio Life (a nightclub in a small Belgian town), Copyright and how music publishing industries tried to crack down on the use of sampling, Acid House, New Beat, New Order, Relational Aesthetics, etc. The terms were also embodied by objects scattered around the show. The first one i spotted in the exhibition rooms was this piece of the dancefloor from The Haçienda, a famous nightclub in Manchester.

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Walter Van Beirendonck, Hard Beat collection, 1989-1990. Preparation of the ENERGY FLASH exhibition. Photo M HKA

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Walter Van Beirendonck, Hard Beat collection, 1989-1990.

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Walter Van Beirendonck, Hard Beat collection, 1989-1990.

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K Foundation, Abandon All Art Now, published in Guardian weekend, 31 July 1993

The K Foundation was an art foundation set up by Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty from famous Dance/Techno band The KLF. Between 1993 and 1995, they spent the money they had earned from the music industry by a series of actions that subverted the art world. Their most famous performance consisted in burning a million pounds in cash.

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News article warning readers about the evils of ecstasy. Exhibition view at M HKA

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Matt Stokes, Real Arcadia, 2003-ongoing. Exhibition view at M HKA

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Matt Stokes, Real Arcadia, 2003-ongoing. Exhibition view at M HKA

Real Arcadia documents a series of illegal “cave raves” that took place in a rural region of North West England during the late 1980s and early 1990s. The installation includes a clip from a local television news reporting on the wrongful deeds of the young party goers.

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Opening of the exhibition. Photo: Bram Goots for M HKA

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Daniel Pflumm, Elektro, 1992. Exhibition view at M HKA

Daniel Pflumm, an artist, musician and club promoter, founded the legendary Elektro club in Berlin. He re-contextualizes corporate logos and reduces them to graphic images that no longer fulfill their original marketing function.

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Matt Stokes, MASS. Exhibition view at M HKA

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Jeremy Deller, Acid Brass, 1997. Photo Jeremy Deller

I’ll never get tired of this:

Acid Brass, What Time Is Love. Performance by the Williams Fairey Band at James Lavelle’s Meltdown

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A few euros to get another fabric bag to add to my collection of totes designed by Jeremy Deller. RESULT!

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Jeremy Deller, The History of the World, 1997. Preparation of the ENERGY FLASH exhibition. Photo M HKA

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Henrik Plenge Jakobsen, Everything is Wrong, 1996. Preparation of the ENERGY FLASH exhibition. Photo M HKA

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Energy Flash: The Rave Movement, Installation View. Photo M HKA

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Rineke Dijkstra. Energy Flash: The Rave Movement. Installation View. Photo: M HKA

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Rineke Dijkstra, Buzz Club / Mysteryworld, 1997. Photo: Paul Koenen

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Rineke Dijkstra, Buzz Club / Mysteryworld, 1997 (via)

In 1997, Rineke Dijkstra made a series of one-minute videos in two night clubs, one in Liverpool, the other in Zaandam, The Netherlands. She asked clubbers to perform as they wished in front of the camera. Most of them dance and either look embarrassed or like they are trying not to look embarrassed.

I found the videos very moving. At first, i laughed out loud then i felt some sympathy and tenderness towards them. Teenagers! So awkward, so sweet!

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Dan Halter, Untitled (Zimbabwean Queen of Rave), 2005, Courtesy the artist

Dan Halter, Untitled (Zimbabwean Queen of Rave), 2005

Rozalla’s hit single “Everybody’s Free (To Feel Good)” was released in 1991. Dan Halter writes: It was amazing to have a Zimbabwean song topping the international music charts. This was at the height of the rave scene and Rozalla became known as ‘The Queen of Rave’. This was also at a time when protests in South Africa were boiling over. In Untitled (Zimbabwean Queen of Rave) I combine some of these elements and also later events such as my experience of attending large public raves in Europe and later in Zimbabwe. The video expresses a personal reality and also the cultural gap between white and black that I was experiencing. These were two fundamentally different scenarios, yet each was guided by crowd psychology and longing for a different reality.

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Henrik Plenge Jakobsen, Terminator, 1997. Opening of the exhibition. Photo: Bram Goots for M HKA

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Energy Flash: The Rave Movement, Installation View. Photo M HKA

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Denicolai & Provoost, Nothing, 2005

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Mark Leckey, Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore, 1999, Courtesy the artist and Cabinet, London

Mark Leckey, Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore, 1999

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Jacques André, James Brown is Dead (ARTERS* No.148), 2016

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Energy Flash: The Rave Movement, Installation View. Photo M HKA

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More fries and people queuing at a frietkot

ENERGY FLASH. The Rave Movement remains open at the M HKA in Antwerp until 25 September 2016. The show was curated by Nav Haq, Senior Curator at M HKA. And if you can’t make it to Antwerp, there’s always the catalogue of the exhibition: RAVE. Rave and Its Influence on Art and Culture.

Show Us the Money. Portrait of financial impunity

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Carlos Spottorno, Wealth Management

If there’s one art space in Belgium that never disappoints it’s FOMU, Antwerp’s photo museum. One of their current exhibitions draws an often startling portrait of the 1% and of the complex infrastructure that shields them from scrutiny.

Show Us The Money takes you on a journey to the world’s off-shore tax havens and corporate financial nerve centres. FOMU provides a glimpse of the structures that impact on all of us but which are themselves practically invisible. Three projects use very different artistic strategies to expose this global issue.

Take the train, plane, tram but don’t miss this exhibition. It’s extremely informative without ever feeling didactic. It’s entertaining without any trace of superficiality. And it provides an intelligent and fascinating way of answering all the questions you might have about offshore secrecy but were ashamed to ask.

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Daniel Mayrit, You Haven’t Seen Their Faces

If you can’t make it to Antwerp before October, here are a few words and tons of photos from Show Us the Money:

Press articles about tax havens are often illustrated with images of anonymous beaches covered in white sand and coconut trees. With The Heavens, Paolo Woods and Gabriele Galimberti lift the lid on these furtive jurisdictions, their idiosyncrasies, players and apparatus. The photographic investigation features the usual suspects: the Cayman Islands, Singapore, the City of London, Luxembourg, etc. But it also brought my attention to a country i had never associated with Panama Papers, opacity and dubious cash flows: The Netherlands which, the photographers write, “is one of the biggest enablers of aggressive corporate tax avoidance and has built a booming industry around promoting and selling Dutch tax services to global companies.”

Selection of images. Captions by the artists:

An employee of “Jetpack Cayman” demonstrates this new watersport, now available on the island. A 2000cc motor pumps water up through the Jetpack, propelling the client out of the sea (359 USD for a 30-minute session). Mike Thalasinos, the owner of the company, remarks, “The Jetpack is zero gravity, the Cayman are zero taxes, we are in the right place!” Grand Cayman.
An employee of “Jetpack Cayman” demonstrates this new watersport, now available on the island. A 2000cc motor pumps water up through the Jetpack, propelling the client out of the sea (359 USD for a 30-minute session). Mike Thalasinos, the owner of the company, remarks, “The Jetpack is zero gravity, the Cayman are zero taxes, we are in the right place!” Grand Cayman

Kandra Powery, 25, and her three children, Kayla, 9, Kaleb, 8, and Janae, 2. The Caymans, a thriving offshore financial center, is the fourth-richest country in the Americas (GDP per capita) but has real pockets of poverty. 55% of the labor force is composed of non-nationals occupying both low-paying jobs in the service sector and high-end jobs in the finance industry. Grand Cayman
Kandra Powery, 25, and her three children, Kayla, 9, Kaleb, 8, and Janae, 2. The Caymans, a thriving offshore financial center, is the fourth-richest country in the Americas (GDP per capita) but has real pockets of poverty. 55% of the labor force is composed of non-nationals occupying both low-paying jobs in the service sector and high-end jobs in the finance industry. Grand Cayman

Tony Reynard (on the right) and Christian Pauli, in one of the high-security vaults of the Singapore Freeport. Mr. Reynard is the Chairman of the Singapore Freeport and Mr. Pauli is the General Manger of Fine Art Logistics NLC, which in addition to Singapore, also has vaults in Geneva, Monaco and Luxembourg. The Singapore Freeport, which was designed, engineered and financed by a Swiss team of businessmen, is one of the world’s premier maximum-security vaults, where billions of dollars in art, gold and cash are stashed. Located just off the runway of Singapore’s airport, the Freeport is a fiscal no-man’s land where individuals as well as companies can confidentially collect valuables out of reach of the taxman. Singapore
Tony Reynard (on the right) and Christian Pauli, in one of the high-security vaults of the Singapore Freeport. Mr. Reynard is the Chairman of the Singapore Freeport and Mr. Pauli is the General Manger of Fine Art Logistics NLC, which in addition to Singapore, also has vaults in Geneva, Monaco and Luxembourg. The Singapore Freeport, which was designed, engineered and financed by a Swiss team of businessmen, is one of the world’s premier maximum-security vaults, where billions of dollars in art, gold and cash are stashed. Located just off the runway of Singapore’s airport, the Freeport is a fiscal no-man’s land where individuals as well as companies can confidentially collect valuables out of reach of the taxman. Singapore

The Cayman Islands are the fifth-largest financial center in the world, with twice as many companies based there as there are citizens. Many of these companies have a post office box but no office. Grand Cayman
The Cayman Islands are the fifth-largest financial center in the world, with twice as many companies based there as there are citizens. Many of these companies have a post office box but no office. Grand Cayman

Bicycle parking lot in Zuid, a growing financial center on the edge of the city of Amsterdam where thousands of empty mailbox companies used to avoid tax are located.  The Netherlands is one of the biggest enablers of aggressive corporate tax avoidance and has built a booming industry around promoting and selling Dutch tax services to global companies.  According to many specialists, the Netherlands – which has a suite of offerings to cut corporate taxes on, among others, interest, royalties, dividend and capital gains income from foreign subsidiaries,  – is a tax haven. The Netherlands.
Bicycle parking lot in Zuid, a growing financial center on the edge of the city of Amsterdam where thousands of empty mailbox companies used to avoid tax are located. The Netherlands is one of the biggest enablers of aggressive corporate tax avoidance and has built a booming industry around promoting and selling Dutch tax services to global companies. The Netherlands.

A man floats in the 57th-floor swimming pool of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, with the skyline of “Central,” the Singapore financial district, behind him. Singapore
A man floats in the 57th-floor swimming pool of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, with the skyline of “Central,” the Singapore financial district, behind him. Singapore

Phil Davis, 46, is Vice President and General Manager of Dell for Asia Pacific and Japan. He has been living in Singapore for over 5 years. According to Bloomberg, Dell has based a substantial part of its operations in Singapore for purposes of tax optimization. Mr. Davis is seen standing in the Maxwell Food Court. Singapore
Phil Davis, 46, is Vice President and General Manager of Dell for Asia Pacific and Japan. He has been living in Singapore for over 5 years. According to Bloomberg, Dell has based a substantial part of its operations in Singapore for purposes of tax optimization. Singapore

Nicole, 34, from the Philippines, works for a Singaporean family as a maid. On her day off, she prostitutes herself, picking up men at the Orchard Towers shopping center. Just like hundreds of other Filipinas, she is earning extra money to send back home. On the day when she works as a prostitute, she can make as much as she does in a month working as a maid. She is photographed in a hotel room where she brings her clients. The government in Singapore has recently passed a law that will require employers to give their “Foreign Domestic Workers” a minimum wage and one day off a week. Although the legislation passed, polls in Singapore have shown that a majority of the population was against it. Singapore
Nicole from the Philippines, works for a Singaporean family as a maid. On her day off, she prostitutes herself. Just like hundreds of other Filipinas, she is earning extra money to send back home. She is photographed in a hotel room where she brings her clients. The government in Singapore has recently passed a law that will require employers to give their “Foreign Domestic Workers” a minimum wage and one day off a week. Although the legislation passed, polls in Singapore have shown that a majority of the population was against it. Singapore

One hour south of Luanda lies the 18-hole Mangais championship golf course, host to PGA tournaments. Mercer, a leading financial analysis firm, ranks Luanda as the most expensive city in the world. This is despite the fact that two-thirds of Angola’s population lives on less than $2 a day and 150,000 children die before the age of 5 each year, from causes linked to poverty. Over 98% of Angola’s exports come from oil or diamonds. Researchers James Boyce and Léonce Ndikumana showed that Angola suffered $80 billion in capital flight from 1970-2008, with most of the money ending up in tax havens. Angola.
One hour south of Luanda lies the 18-hole Mangais championship golf course, host to PGA tournaments. Mercer, a leading financial analysis firm, ranks Luanda as the most expensive city in the world. This is despite the fact that two-thirds of Angola’s population lives on less than $2 a day and 150,000 children die before the age of 5 each year, from causes linked to poverty. Over 98% of Angola’s exports come from oil or diamonds. Researchers James Boyce and Léonce Ndikumana showed that Angola suffered $80 billion in capital flight from 1970-2008, with most of the money ending up in tax havens. Angola.

Richard J. Geisenberger (standing) is Delaware’s Chief Deputy Secretary of State. He is photographed in the Wilmington State Building, overseeing one of the more than 5000 incorporations that take place daily in Delaware. It takes a few minutes, no questions asked, to incorporate a company, and the state office stays open until midnight Monday through Thursday. More than 50% of all U.S. publicly traded companies and 63% of the Fortune 500 are incorporated in Delaware. Delaware.
Richard J. Geisenberger (standing) is Delaware’s Chief Deputy Secretary of State. He is photographed in the Wilmington State Building, overseeing one of the more than 5000 incorporations that take place daily in Delaware. It takes a few minutes, no questions asked, to incorporate a company, and the state office stays open until midnight Monday through Thursday. More than 50% of all U.S. publicly traded companies and 63% of the Fortune 500 are incorporated in Delaware. Delaware

Galimberti and Woods judiciously registered their own company, The Heavens, in one of those tax havens: Delaware. In exchange of a small fee and zero question asked, “The Heavens” company is now based in the same office as Apple, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, Google, and countless other multinational corporations, money launderers and businesses who’d rather avoid accountability.

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Carlos Spottorno, Wealth Management

I’ve been following the work of Carlos Sottorno ever since i discovered PIGS, a satirical portray of “Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain through the eyes of the economists.” Wealth Management takes a similarly critical look at society and attempts to give a face to the world of tax evasion, obscene wealth and governments subordinate-to-master relationship with banks.

The project is a book that pretends to be the brochure of a fake bank called WTF bank. Spottorno traveled to San Marino, Luxembourg, Switzerland and London and looked for the stereotypes and cliches associated with the world of finance. The result is a series of images that blend truth and fiction.

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Carlos Spottorno, Wealth Management

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Carlos Spottorno, Wealth Management

Sottorno explains in an interview with Canvas:

This kind of imagery that looks like a noir movie – sometimes, not always but in many cases- comes of course from cinema but many look like corporate images: polo players, tailor-made shoes, airport, etc. These are the corporate images you would find in the brochure of a private bank and this is something i’ve been studying in actual brochures or websites of private banks where they often use black and white thinking it is more elegant and classy. This is how they perceive it. And i’ve been studying how these banks communicate their services to us in a very polite way, with beautiful and clean language, both written and visual. But basically what they are saying is “We will help you not to pay taxes.” That’s the baseline. Anything you read ends up there. And the images are related to that: “Enjoy life in an expensive way dont’ worry about anything. We are here to protect you, we have lawyers, we are inside the institutions that will protect your money. Don’t worry about that!”

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Carlos Spottorno, Wealth Management

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Carlos Spottorno, Wealth Management

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Carlos Spottorno, Wealth Management

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Carlos Spottorno, Wealth Management

The series that made the strongest impact on my imagination was You Haven’t Seen Their Faces, by Daniel Mayrit. The artist manipulated portrays of the most powerful men and women in the City of London to make them looks as if they were grainy images taken by surveillance cameras and annotated by the police. Brought down to the level of petty thieves and drug dealing suspects, the politicians, bankers and other schemers are assimilated to criminals involved in the 2008 financial crisis but who nvertheless keep on walking the streets in all impunity.

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Daniel Mayrit, You Haven’t Seen Their Faces

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Daniel Mayrit, You Haven’t Seen Their Faces

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Daniel Mayrit, You Haven’t Seen Their Faces

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Daniel Mayrit, You Haven’t Seen Their Faces

A few snapshots of the exhibition:

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Show Us the Money was curated by Rein Deslé. The exhibition remains open at FOMU, the Photography Museum in Antwerp until 09 October 2016.
There’s an excellent tour of the show with audio interviews of Carlos Sottorno and David Mayrit as well as lots of images on Canvas. The text is in dutch.

RAVE. Rave and Its Influence on Art and Culture

RAVE. Rave and Its Influence on Art and Culture, edited by art curator Nav Haq.

It’s on amazon UK and USA.

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black dog publishing writes: Rave: Rave and Its Influence on Art and Culture is one of the first publications to critically engage with the historical rave movement of the 1980s and 1990s as it relates to contemporary art and visual culture.

Following the death of industrial Europe, rave emerged as Europe’s last big youth movement. This book considers the social, political and economic conditions that led to the advent of rave as a ‘counterculture’ across Europe, as well as its aesthetics, ideologies and influence on contemporary art and beyond. Combining specially commissioned texts, interviews and factual material, the book represents a broad range of artistic practices, including the work of Jeremy Deller, Rineke Dijkstra, and Daniel Pflumm, amongst many others.

In addition to artistic contributions, the book features texts by Mark Fisher and Nav Haq, as well as interviews with Walter van Beirendonck, the famous Belgian fashion designer; and Renaat Vandepapeliere and Sabine Maes, who run the legendary R&S Records.

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Andreas Gursky, May Day III, 1998

Of course i was going to love this book. It features great artworks and insightful essays, it’s beautifully designed, but it also explores a cultural phenomenon i actually experienced back when i was wearing crazy fluorescent bomber jackets and unflattering combat trousers. (And there goes my pretension to write an objective review…)

Rave, that underground cultural phenomenon from the ‘80s and ‘90s, might feel incredibly distant and dated. Yet, as the publication demonstrates, much of what made and shaped the movement find echoes in today’s post 2008 crash society.

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Erik Plenge Jakobsen, Everything is Wrong, 1996

First of all, rave provided an escape for those who felt lost in front of the decline of industrialism, the rise of neoliberalism and the erosion of state welfare, it gave them a sense of togetherness, of belonging to an open culture, of eluding formal structures of control.

Then of course there’s the key role played by technology. Rave music explored emerging and existing technologies, at a time when instruments became more affordable, more portable and easier to master without the need of a traditional music education. Technology also gave way to new sounds, new beats, new cut&paste and samplings and even new experiments in subverting historical sonic weapon technology in order to bring people together. Last but not least, the period saw the birth of the internet.

Unfortunately, raves were also the object of police crackdown and governmental attempts to criminalise them (making them even more appealing to young people obviously.) The Mariani Law in France, for example, linked raves to terrorism. Curator and book editor Nav Haq writes that the rave movement was not a political one. Instead, it was politicised through its criminalization by the state.

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A Glossary of Rave, as illustrated by graphic designer Jelle Maréchal

As the editor of the book notes, rave remains a fairly under-explored youth movement (it’s been less dissected in studies, exhibitions and literature than punk, for example.) It is both familiar and a bit foreign. The chapter titled “Glossary of Rave” illustrates this point quite easily when it brings together words i wasn’t expecting to find gathered in the same chapter. Some are mainstream today, others are a bit forgotten, all have left marks on contemporary culture: Kraftwerk, Gabber, Haçienda, Belgian Hoover, KLF, Accelerationism, Relational Aethetics, Sonic Weapons, Sonic Weapons, Wolfgang Tillmans, etc.

It probably doesn’t matter whether you raved or whether your mum and dad fell in love and conceived you after yet another rave party, you’re bound to find RAVE. Rave and Its Influence on Art and Culture surprising, informative and highly entertaining.

Quick look at some of the works i discovered in the publication:

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Irene de Andrés, FESTIVAL CLUB. Where Nothing Happens, 2013

Festival Club was an unsuccessful big entertainment complex with two stages in Ibiza. After it officially closed, the site was used for clandestine raves in the 80s and early 90s. In 2013, Irene de Andrés went back to Festival Club, found only weeds and rumble and invited one of the most famous DJs of Ibiza’s 1980s nightlife to perform a set of balearic and house with only the decaying structure as his audience.

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Cory Arcangel, The AUDMCRS Underground Dance Music Collection of Recorded Sound, 2011-12

From 2011 to 2012, Cory Arcangel’s studio archived almost 900 trance LPs that had been purchased from a 1990s trance DJ. Visitors can listen to the LPS in The AUDMCRS Underground Dance Music Collection of Recorded Sound and read through a booklet containing all relevant data (format, size, speed, generation, etc.) about each record. The project underlines the personal obsession often involved with collecting, as well as Arcangel’s own interest in preserving a cultural history that relates to his work and life. “It is said that the music we hear as teenagers is, and will always be, the most important music for the rest of our lives. For me, this music is techno – the cheap, voiceless, machine-age disco that became popular in the clubs of Chicago in the late 1980s and from there quickly spread throughout the globe” (Arcangel, 2011).

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Jeremy Deller, Acid Brass, 1997. Band members warming up on the South Bank, London

The Williams Fairey Band, Acid Brass – What Time Is Love

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Jeremy Deller, The History of the World, 1997 (image)

“I drew this diagram about the social, political and musical connections between house music and brass bands – it shows a thought process in action,’ said Jeremy Deller. “It was also about Britain and British history in the twentieth century and how the country had changed from being industrial to post-industrial. It was the visual justification for Acid Brass. Without this diagram, the musical project Acid Brass would not have a conceptual backbone.”

Denicolai & Provoost, Nothing, 2005

In 2005, Denicolai & Provoost arranged for police vehicles, fire engines and ambulances to drive around the SMAK museum in Ghent, all siren blasting. The artists were inside the museum, organizing a rave party ‘providing the sense of an illicit event whilst surrounded by the sound of the authorities.’


Mark Leckey, Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore, 1999

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Matt Stokes, MASS, Exhibition View at De Hallen, Haarlem, 2011, Photo Gert van Rooij, M HKA Archive

MASS is a sound system that grows in size thanks to donations of speakers and other components from the public. The work is reconfigured differently whenever it is exhibited, acting as a sculptural metaphor for the people brought together in congregation.

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Walter Van Beirendonck, Hard Beat collection, 1989-1990 (Exhibition view.) Photo M HKA

Walter Van Beirendonck‘s Hard Beat collection from Autumn/Winter 1989 took inspiration from the Belgian new beat phenomenon and made use of innovative industrial fabrics from the worlds of sport and safety, such as reflective material. Some of the designs in the collection incorporate the Sony Walkman, the 80s symbol of mobile music.

RAVE. Rave and Its Influence on Art and Culture is the catalogue of ENERGY FLASH. The Rave Movement, an exhibition on view at M HKA in Antwerp until 25 September 2016.

I’ve been shouting my love for Walter Van Beirendonck before: Walter Van Beirendonck: Dream the world awake, The Art of Fashion: Installing Allusions (Part 2).

Brown Sound Kit. ‘Toilet humour for gallery space’

Because we could all do with a bit of humour today, even if it’s of the Benny Hill kind…

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Martin Kersels, Brown Sound Kit, 1994. Courtesy of the Artist and Galerie Georges-Philippe and Nathalie Vallois

While preparing a review of black dog publishing‘s book RAVE. Rave and Its Influence on Art and Culture, i encountered this sound art piece which, as the catalogue states, brings ‘some toilet humour to the gallery space.’

Martin Kersels’s sculpture Brown Sound Kit is a piece of sound equipment that emits low frequency infrasound waves, which causes those in its path to release the contents of their bowels—or more colloquially, to “shit themselves”. This kind of sound cannon has its roots in sonic weapons first developed by the Nazis for the purposes of crowd control, and purportedly also by the French authorities during the Paris riots of 1968. Utilising a speaker, an amplifier, an equaliser and an oscillator, all contained with a mobile yellow case, Brown Sound Kit works reflexively of the fact that experiments in weapons technology were also important in the development of sound systems for music.

There seems to be some doubt about how efficient the firing of brown notes can be. In any case, the final sentence in the description of the work will reassure any visitor of an exhibition featuring the work: Brown Sound Kit is presented unplugged within exhibitions. I think Brown Sound Kit is actually part of the show Energy Flash. The Rave Movement at M HKA – Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp. It closes on 25 September. I’ll definitely pop by before that.

Related story: Tanks, drones, rockets and other sound machines. An interview with Nik Nowak.

Panamarenko Universum

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Panamarenko, Scotch Gambit

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Panamarenko, Pahama, Spitsbergen, Nova Zemblaya, 1996 courtesy Collection Fondation Cartier, Paris photo M HKA

Panamarenko, the artist and inventor who builds zeppelins, mechanical chickens, flying backpacks, flying saucers, robots, submarines and other machines designed to travel over land, under water and in outer space, is having a big and rather wonderful retrospective at the M HKA, in his home town of Antwerp.

As its name suggests, Panamarenko Universum attempts to cover the full spectrum of his artistic production and mental landscape. Along with many of the vehicles and devices Panamarenko has created ​​between 1965 and 2005, M HKA is also exhibiting drawings, objects, documentations of tv interviews, scientific experiments and performances, models and editions.

It's difficult not to be seduced by Panamarenko's childlike enthusiasm for movement and science, by his inventiveness and by machines which are successful as artworks but often hopeless as vehicles for ocean and space expeditions.

Some of the works i (re)discovered in Antwerp:

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Exhibition view Panamarenko Universum, 2014. Photo M HKA

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Exhibition view Panamarenko Universum, 2014. Photo M HKA


Panamarenko had always wanted to build a submarine to take to the open seas and defy any storm. His ultimate purpose was to use this craft to journey to the Far North. Nonetheless, it took until the middle of the 19990s before the project really got under way.

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PAHAMA, Spitsbergen, Nova Zemblaya

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Arlikoop, 2004

A one-man aircraft which construction is based on the flapping movements of birds.

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Raven's variable matrix, 2000

An advanced deep-sea diving apparatus engineered to dive faster. It consisted of a shaft attached to a screw-propeller and two pedals with belts. The device was strapped around the diver's hips, leaving the arms and torso completely free.

'You just have to peddle away with your legs, and it's just like you have a tail. That moved you forward fast, much faster than a swimmer...' - Panamarenko

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Big Elbow (Razmo Special), 1990-1992

Panamarenko testing one of his diving contraptions:

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Panamarenko Archive, M HKA, Antwerp, 2014

A diving suit for walking over the gentle slopes of the seabed. The diving suit has a plastic dome helmet and a small cylinder pump, ten centimetres in diameter, to be worn on the back. The helmet is supplied with oxygen by a cylinder with a piston that goes up and down, a four-litre bladder that serves as an extra lung, and a flexible hose that floats on the water surface.

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Portuguese Man of War, 1990

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Panamareko testing the Portuguese Man of War in the Maldives. Panamarenko Archive, M HKA, Antwerp, 2014

In the 1970s, to create devices that take off vertically, Panamarenko concentrated his research on rotation speed and lifting power. The artist developed a series of compact but powerful Pastille Motors to power his rucksack helicopters. The name Pastille Motor refers to the round, flat shape reminiscent of a large aspirin. The engine must not weigh more than twelve kg, while five kilos of fuel should be sufficient for twenty minutes' flying.

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R.p.M. (Revolutions per Minute)

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Panamarenko Archive, M HKA, Antwerp, 2014

The propulsion for the Pepto Bismo is powered by short rotor-propellers, each driven by its own motor. The helicopter principal allows the pilot to take-off vertically, controlling the apparatus by body movement.

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Panamarenko, Pepto Bismo, 2003 courtesy Private Collection photo M HKA

Panamarenko built flying saucers and other spacecraft, he also researched into the various possibilities of using existing magnetic fields as cosmic highways to travel the solar system. In 1997 his fascination for the cosmos resulted in the final project Ferro Lusto that he describes as a spaceship of 800 meters in length and fit for a crew of 4000. Ferro Lusto would act as the mother ship that carres various smaller crafts, which he calls Bings.

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Bing of the Ferro Lusto (model), 2002

Panamarenko developed Bing of the Ferro Lusto and Bing II as hybrid machines suitable for flying through both the atmosphere and outer space. Bing II was powered using air and has three 4D booster engines developed on the basis of the Toymodel of Space theory. The engine consists of two cylinders set in parallel in a metal block. Four pistons make alternate upward and sideways movements. The drive power develops on the basis of the difference in speed and mass in contrast with the direction of movement of the earth and solar system, boosted by centrifugal force. '

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Panamarenko, Bing of the Ferro Lusto (model) , 2002 Courtesy Mulier Mulier Gallery

Panamarenko built The Aeromodeller between 1969 and 1971. The basketwork gondola was designed as a living space. Two aircraft engines on top of it are used to steer the imposing airship, which is held aloft by a cigar-shaped balloon, thirty metres long.

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The Aeromodeller (Zeppelin), 1969-1971

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Dubbele zeppelin, 1990

Panamarenko designed this machine on insect-like aluminium legs, to enable him to walk around the Swiss mountains more easily. Crooked Leg is powered by a boat engine and is operated using two vertical levers on either side of the device.

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Knikkebeen [Crooked Leg], 1994

The Magnetic Shoes are made with military boots from the former East Block and copper stator coils taken apart from electric motors. He would weld the coils' magnets to a rod and then trapped an electrical charge. The result was amazing! If you then touched a piece of metal to it, you couldn't get it off no matter how hard you pulled! In a green rucksack (where military personnel would keep their walkie-talkies) are the lead batteries to provide the current. By alternatingly turning the current in the magnets on and off, I could hang upside down from a ceiling and walk around. I thought: well, that's a start... a little bit like flying...

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Magnetic Shoes, 1966-1967

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May-bug (Salto Arte), 1972

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Exhibition view Panamarenko Universum, 2014. Photo M HKA

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Exhibition view Panamarenko Universum, 2014. Photo M HKA

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Exhibition view Panamarenko Universum, 2014. Photo M HKA

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Exhibition view Panamarenko Universum, 2014. Photo M HKA


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Panamarenko, Donderwolk, 1970-1971. Collectie Koninklijke Musea voor Schone Kunsten van België photo M HKA


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Panamarenko, Prova Car, courtesy collection M HKA


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Panamarenko Archive, M HKA, Antwerp, 2014

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PAHAMA (detail)

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Inside the PAHAMA

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Panamarenko testing his electronic tank. Location: Furkapas. ©image: Panamarenko Archive

Panamarenko Universum is on view at the M HKA in Antwerp until Sunday 29 March 2015.

Mediterranean. Portrait of a region in turmoil

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Ghadaffi's compound Bab Al-Aziziya, Tripoli

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Saint-Tropez, France. © Nick Hannes

Photographer Nick Hannes spent four years traveling around the Mediterranean looking for the traces left by mass tourism, migration, financial crisis, political upheavals and other burning issues. "[The Mediterranean] remains unique on the map of the world: a sea at the intersection of three continents, a relatively short distance from each other," Hannes told Flanders Today. "There's a reason why this region is considered the cradle of our civilisation."

History meets very contemporary troubles in his photos. While touring some 20 countries, the photographer saw tourists dancing on beaches while poverty-stricken people at the other hand of the sea were hoping to board a boat and migrate to richer shores, protests by family members of people who disappeared during the Algerian civil war, Gazans smuggling goods through underground tunnels in an attempt to overcome the severe food shortage imposed by the Israeli blockade, etc.

Hannes' series Mediterranean. The Continuity of Man is currently on view at the Photo Museum in Antwerp. I visited the show a few days ago and here are some of the images i found most striking:

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Crisis wedding, Rio, Greece. © Nick Hannes

Doing prospection for my Mediterranean Project in the port city of Patras, Greece, I bumped into this weird wedding party. Christos Karalis (44), who married Anna (26), decided to have the party in his petrol station, to save on expenses. "This is how we respond to the crisis", a family member said to me. "Please show these pictures to Merkel. A Greek keeps on laughing and celebrating, even when his money is being taken away."

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Thiva, Greece

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Rock of Gibraltar, seen from La Linea de la Concepcion, Spain. © Nick Hannes

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Qalandiya checkpoint, Ramallah © Nick Hannes

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Valencia, Spain. © Nick Hannes

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Checkpoint, Sirte, Libya. © Nick Hannes

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Tunis

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Asylum seekers, Athens, Greece. © Nick Hannes

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Istanbul, Turkey. © Nick Hannes

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Adana, Turkey. © Nick Hannes

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Cairo, Egypt. © Nick Hannes

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Ibiza, Spain. © Nick Hannes

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Palase, Albania. © Nick Hannes

Mediterranean. The Continuity of Man is at FotoMuseum Antwerp until February 1, 2015.

Check also my post on another FoMu exhibition that features Hannes' work: Red Journey, a photo trip across the former Soviet Union.