S is for Saturday, Shopping, Strange, Scheld’apen

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Saturday: the first chance to walk around town in the daytime to see some places. The day begun nicely with a spiced chai at a nearby café, very sympathetic – after which followed some perusing of the local supplies of clothing, it being the final day of winter sales.

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However, the main goal of my day on town was an exhibition at a place called Hessenhuis. On the way there I saw the above confusing view through a window. The theme of the exhibition was “a meeting between the tragic and the funny”. Suitably, I had happened to purchase a David Shrigley book (Grip) right before, mostly by chance, at the well-stocked international magazine store, that even had a cat keeping order among the glossies.

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Very much in keeping with the theme then, I found out where clumsy airbrush-style painting comes from, also on the way: there’s an academy for it in Antwerp! I think the guy’s shirt says “You’re talented”, or somesuch uplifting phrase.

Exhibited at the gallery was a variety of odd pieces, including a mural of sorts by the great Daniel Johnston.

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Special staying power had the works Home 1 and 2 of New York- based Swiss artist Olaf Breuning. These were two video pieces, filled with gallows-humour, post-touristic irony and general tasteless inanity, all cooked together in a most delicate fashion. One work detailed this skinny, red-haired and white-eyed man’s gaggy bumbling on an African package tourism trip, where he, for instance, slips into the rivertour-boat’s kitchen and asks the chef if he can help with chopping the vegetables. The confused chef agrees and goes out for a smoke, whereupon Olaf starts cutting and grins mischievously to the camera, leaning in close and whispering “I didn’t wash my ha-aands!”

The second work consisted of double screens, on the left, showing in black and white, a slightly odd hotel room where Olaf hangs about telling stories to the camera. The left-hand screen goes on to show the stories he’s telling, or other related content. Several quirky cultural pastiches parade by, including horror movies and some sort of heavy metal video – most featuring Olaf and a gang of seemingly random ordinary people. Imagine a white-thrash fellow sitting slumped, singing a moronic metal tune about heavy drinking – wearing a helmet of burdocks (takiaisia / kardborrar) that only leaves his mouth visible.

This is not that video, but it is sort of in the same vein:

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This psychedelic work above, by Dennis Tyfus,  was also awe-inspiring in its mere scale – something like 2 × 3 meters.

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And of course, the unfortunate sausages by Kati Heck were cute.

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Anton Cotteleer (I think) had made something strange with dolls. Or are they perhaps kabouter?

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I believe that this work above is by Julien Prévieux, but I’m not sure. It seems nothing special, until you realize that the same free-form scribbles are extremely accurately recreated by hand in both paintings. No telling which is the original. Sadly, I didn’t write down the names of all the artists, believing they were listed with their works in the catalogue.

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So the creator of this lovely, stupendously pointless object is also unknown.

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This internet café on Nationaalstraat could well have been in the exhibition.

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Afterwards I returned home with the day’s shopping and other accrued debris.  The magazines in the foreground are Dot Dot Dot, and KRAAK’s Ruis, which happens to feature a cover by Tommi Musturi.

The same evening I was to go out for a beer with Tom from the EMG team, and then to the second day of the “festival” at Scheld’apen.

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We didn’t go for the fancy fun this time, but instead had some beers at a restaurant, with more saintly wooden figures than there are days in the year and over 200 beers on the menu. The time passed nicely with the incredibly strong trappister beers and discussions about surplus churches, creationism and internets culture.

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When I eventually got to the club after the long walk (on the way above the freeway itself, some freeways signs were lying around, the scale of the things close up is humbling), the headline act (japanese noise artist Pain Jerk) had just finished – a minor setback. But the party was fun and led to chair- and bench-throwing, so I didn’t complain, even though the music was a funny mix of Baltimore-style rap (or something like it), oldish heavy metal, punk, and eighties hits. But I did get a lift home by bike again.

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Above are some logs of tropical wood lurking in the darkness of the docks.

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