The Capital of Taste

Before embarking on my journey to the poster festival in Ljubljana,  Caroline and me visited the townlet known as Hasselt – Hoofdstad van de Smaak. It remained a bit of a mystery why the city was sporting that slogan, but the striking impression from that sunday was that “Hoofdstad vad de Slaap” would have fitted the bill better.

The reason for this excursion wasn’t the presumed taste, but the last weekend of the rather nicely branded SuperStories exhibition. This SuperStories was the second edition of a triennale combining exhibits of art, fashion and design; as such a laudable concept. However, it turned out that the branding was one of the strongest point of the whole biennale, which was split over several locations in the pleasantly walkable center of Hasselt.

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Those would presumably be scooters, but the meaning eludes me.

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Some local ceramics artist had an obsession with UFO’s, but the pleasantly immaculate objects were standing there, waiting to be ruined by imprudently applied glazing.

Some of the works in SuperStories were worth the while, but there was a fair share of less exciting things. The highest quality in displayed items was in my opinion offered in the Z33 art and design center. As far as art goes, the best works here were not even part of the SuperStories as such though;  it was a captivating spatial installation by one Gabriel Lester:

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This was a changing landscape on a conveyor belt, the small plastic characters coming into view and casting shadows on the walls while moving along.

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The chandelier was slowly sinking and rising in a dark room, by means of an electrical winch.

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Some works in SuperStories proper:

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Part of a series of collectible architectural kitsch items with a history, by Boym Partners Inc., called Buildings of Disaster.

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Artist duo Driessens & Verstappen displayed The Factory, where a booger of green wax is cycled along conveyor belts and perpetually re-melted.

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What looks like joke poo is a huge pile of chocolate spread (Nutella), called Untitled, that gave off a faint, but nevertheless sickening sweet aroma. The man behind it being Thomas Rentmeister. His webpage is teeming with similarly excellent work. There is no limit to where Nutella will go.

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An exceedingly bizarre sculpture / photography installation by Sylvie Zijlmans.

Conceptually interesting pieces of design were the minimal furniture items by Casimir, such as a bench in the shape of an I-beam, and the cut-up design classics of Martino Gamper. Gamper works extensively with reconfiguring and restructuring found pieces of furniture into new objects; the work displayed at SuperStories consisted of sampled and cut-&-pasted pieces of damaged furniture by italian designer Gio Ponti, entitled If Gio Only Knew.

Additionally, at the fashion museum were a few of the amusing Exactitudes photographs, and at the Hasselt cultural center some excellent animated drawings by Catharina van Eetvelde, borrowing the visual languages of different disciplines of information design.

EEtwelde

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On a schoolyard was a disabled wood pidgeon, otherwise seemingly in good condition but unable to stand.

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“Du villa ha sallad? … Salladen är slut!”

After the exhibitions were visited and the full sleepyness of Hasselt savoured, it was time to jump on the train to Liege (or Leuk), the first leg on the way to Slovenia:

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Be-rail’s logo has a delectable vernacular clunkyness to it.

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