FOMU opens exhibitions of works by Diana Markosian, Bertien van Manen, Alexey Shlyk & Ben Van den Berghe
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FOMU opens exhibitions of works by Diana Markosian, Bertien van Manen, Alexey Shlyk & Ben Van den Berghe
Bertien van Manen, Odessa, Ljalja, uit de serie Let's sit down before we go, 1991-2.

ANTWERP.- FOMU presents the European premiere of the exhibition Santa Barbara by Diana Markosian (Moscow, 1989). In an innovative and deeply moving approach, Markosian tells the story of her family, and how they immigrated to America. Using film, still and archival images, Markosian explores the profound sacrifice made by her mother in pursuit of the American dream. 

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Markosian's Family is reduced to poverty overnight. At the same time, the American soap opera Santa Barbara is the first foreign show to be broadcast, offering a window to another world. Markosian's mother makes a decision to abandon her country and moves to the United States, in search of a better life for herself and her two children. 

This exhibition is Diana Markosian’s attempt to understand her mother’s decision. Markosian collaborated with the orginal writer of the soap opera to create a script, cast actors to play her family, re-enacting the departure and arrival to America. Markosian’s Santa Barbara is an interplay between the idealized vision of America and the reality of the immigrant experience. Mixing memory and imagination, Markosian pushes the boundaries of documentary photography in an inspiring way. 

Diana Markosian is an American artist of Armenian descent. She takes an intimate approach to her photography and video storytelling, in work that is both conceptual and documentary. Her projects have taken her to some of the remotest corners of the world, and have been featured in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Vogue Magazine.

Diana Markosian – Santa Barbara was first exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, followed by the International Center of Photography (New York) in collaboration with FOMU (Antwerp) and Les filles du calvaire (Paris).

The publication Santa Barbara, a publication by Aperture, is for sale in the FOMU shop for € 68.5.

On May 19, Diana Markosian will give an artist talk at FOMU.

01.04.22 - 28.08.22

Since the 1970s, photographer Bertien van Manen (NL, 1942) has captured the daily lives of the people she meets on her travels. From the Netherlands to China and from the former Soviet Union to the Appalachians, it is the ordinary, chaotic moments that most attract Bertien van Manen. Her simple snapshot camera allows her to get close to her subjects. With a sympathetic gaze she has developed a subjective form of documentary-making that is ahead of its time.

The retrospective Wish I Were Here allows the visitor to look over van Manen’s shoulder. It is developed in close collaboration with van Manen and the graphic designer Hans Gremmen, who spent a year and a half researching her archive for the retrospective book of her work Archive (MACK, 2021).

Bertien van Manen studied French, German and Russian and first broke through as an artist in the 1990s with her series A Hundred Summers, a Hundred Winters. Her work has been exhibited internationally and acquired by museums such as MoMA (New York), Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Fotomuseum Winterthur, Maison Européenne de la Photographie (Paris) and FOMU (Antwerp).

The publication Bertien van Manen.Archive, can be purchased in the FOMU shop.

On Sunday 29 May, Bertien van Manen will give an artist talk. She will have a conversation with Hripsimé Visser about her work.

01.04.22 - 29.05.22

In the practice of Alexey Shlyk & Ben Van den Berghe, the inspiring play between photographic image and architectural space is key. The artists combine new images and elements from previous works to continually create distinct, site-specific installations. They immerse visitors in alienating, disorienting environments using lens-based and computer-generated imaging technologies that blur the boundaries between physical and virtual realms. The ambiguous relationship between humans and technology is a recurring theme in their work.

Over the last year, Shlyk & Van den Berghe developed a modular system in collaboration with Atelier Oh to quickly and intuitively build, adapt with images, break down and reinvent model spaces. This hands-on methodology facilitates their research on the relationship between image and space. They capture their photographic and architectural experiments with scaled exhibition spaces and then edit and use these recordings in the final exhibition. The result is a continuous reinterpretation, which stimulates strong sensory perceptions.

The title Backspace refers to some of these elements. In the exhibition hall another space in the back is suggested. Does it exist or is it an illusion? Backrooms are often hiding places; they are cluttered rooms in the house and deep recesses on the internet. In addition, the ‘backspace’ key on a keyboard deletes previous characters. Repositioning the cursor means movement. Removing means reimagining all over again.

This exhibition is the result of an art commission as part of the COVID-19 grant provided by FOMU in spring 2020 in response to the coronavirus measures, which hit many photographers and artists hard. For the selection, FOMU collaborated with art and photography experts. Alexey Shlyk & Ben Van den Berghe were nominated by Eline Verstegen. Four other artists also received a FOMU grant within this framework: Hélène Amouzou, Aurélie Geurts, Mous Lamrabat, and Joud Toamah.

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