With the aim to reinvigorate a residential neighborhood in Antwerp, HABITAT brings together artists and designers who will be working/residing/living/creating their own habitats in a former social housing apartment block to eventually transform into a public gallery.
For four weeks, selected artists and design studios take over eight empty apartments in a soon-to-be-demolished block in Antwerp, to create their own interpretation of the concept of living, marking the kick start of the regeneration of a residential neighbourhood.
During May 2010, the artists and design studios had free reign to create their own spaces and between June and July, the public will be able to visit these 'new' apartments in the Luchtbal district of Antwerp. After July, the apartment block on Manchesterlaan - and the rest of the district - will make way for new social housing developments. Guest curator Bruno Herzeele chose the artists and designers and Dutch studios involved include Ton Matton of Mattonoffice, Rob Voeman, Anthony Kleinepier and TTTVo. Alongside the artists’ work, there will be readings, guided tours and even local dining at Komen Eten (Come and Eat) with Dutch writer Hanneke Paauwe.
Trained as a town planner, Ton Matton of Mattonoffice focuses on ecological urban planning. Matton’s Climate Machines are mini bio-habitats where grains, vegetables and fruit can be grown indoors. These installation pieces question the value of creating artificial Gardens of Eden for the rich, while the majority suffer from the effects of climate change. For Matton’s apartment, pots and grow-bags line the floor, or else plants in pots are nurtured by drip-fed infusions that hang from the ceiling, watered by a complex irrigation system.
Dutch artist Rob Voerman is known for his constructions that take furniture and interiors as their starting point and turn into spaces that perform as a ‘home’, destined to evolve over time. Voerman creates work for galleries, but is increasingly interested in pieces that can reside in a public place and take on a new life as they are used. Materials commonly used in his work include recycled wood, coloured glass or Plexiglas, cardboard, doors and other found items.
For the Antwerp apartment, the artist has knocked through walls to create an organic cavernous interior, and built giant installations of kitchen cupboards, wooden dressing-table drawers, cardboard boxes and old doors. A large metal-framed window is given an irregular structure around it, made from wooden planks and coated to resemble a primitive lookout post. In the context of this apartment, Voerman’s installation is truly a habitat within a habitat.
Designers Anthony Kleinepier and TTTVo have together created a colourful interactive environment featuring huge shapes in primary brights of red and blue. Their work involves "objects and people entering into a relationship with each other, one that allows the spectator to experience their everyday environment in a very different manner."
Dutch writer and theatre director Hanneke Paauwe is known for her fantasy short stories and novels of surreal and tragic women. Working most recently in Belgium, she now creates theatrical works that can be viewed in large halls, but also in small spaces, as intimate performances for one or two people. The storytelling aspect of her work will be brought to life in the upper loft areas of the apartment block and she will invite the public every Friday during the festival to participate in a people’s kitchen Komen Eten (Come and Eat) - habitat as theatrical setting.
The other designers involved include Bart Prinsen (B), Unfold (B), complizen Planungsbüro (D) and Office for Subversive Architecture (UK/D).
The project is collaboration between Middelheim Museum, the Luchtbal cultural centre and the urban regeneration team Programma’s voor Stad in Verandering (Programmes for city change).
HABITAT - Festival for spatial imagination
Luchtbal, Antwerp, 6 June until 4 July 2010
Main image and images 1&2: Mattonoffice
Images 3-5: Rob Voerman
Images 6&7: Anthony Kleinepier and TTTVo
Photography: Sven van Baarle
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