A new quadrennial in Ghent, US-curated this time

Little known fact: the Flemish part of Belgium has one of the highest concentrations of contemporary art collectors and enthusiasts in the world


The museum of contemporary art and the Bijloke Museum of Ghent are jointly holding the first edition of a quadrennial exhibition which will sometimes be directed by an outside curator. The exhibition wants to represent the full potential of a museum of contemporary art.

The former director of the Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (SMAK), Jan Hoet (see p.8) says: “I am completely aware that an institution like SMAK runs a lot of risks, such as getting stuck with a fixed scheme. The time required for putting on an exhibition often distracts us from the latest developments in the art world. If that is the case this quadrennial is an excellent plan because it gives us the opportunity (or, indeed, forces us) to start from scratch each time”. The director of the museum should stand to one side and leave the exhibition to an outside curator, says Mr Hoet who is now a consultant to the museum.

The independent curator Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn from New York has been given the job of inaugurating this first edition on a temporary basis. “Casino 2001” certainly fulfils the general requirements of Jan Hoet: this is “museum-non/museum”, SMAK is an institution where no certainties pertain. It is an open location where art asks questions and is questioned. “The SMAK collection,” says Mr Hoet, “is centred mainly on European art, in particular Beuys and Arte Povera. This is why I thought it would be interesting to give the responsibility for this ‘side show’ to a curator from the US. Her background gives her the ability to approach European and American art from a fresh perspective.”

The 60 artists taking part have produced installations and performances all loosely based around the idea of the casino (this was the original function of the SMAK building). The curator sees this as a reference to Las Vegas, an extreme example of a place where appearance, performance and entertainment are the order of the day.

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 120 December 2001