center for contemporary non-objective art

Seen and not seen December 2007

Curator Martijn Lucas Smit of Nieuwe Vide, Haarlem (NL) has created a large group exhibition for CCNOA center for contemporary non-objective art, a leading Brussels-based art centre that plays a key role in an international network of artists – mostly minimalist – as well as critics and curators. CCNOA brought the exhibition My Eyes Keep Me in Trouble to the exhibition space of the Haarlem artists’ initiative Nieuwe Vide last May, showing work by inter alia John Beech, Jaroslaw Flicinski, Kjell Bjorgeengen and Emmanuelle Villard. The title and concept of the exhibition were taken from a song with lyrics and music by the blues legend R.L.Burnside. In the second part of the exchange, Nieuwe Vide presents the exhibition Seen and Not Seen, likewise a song title, this time by Talking Heads, written by David Byrne in 1980. The slightly weird text is about a man who, by pure concentration, is able to change his facial expression very gradually over time. Taking this phenomenon as a metaphor for the arts, Smit uses the title, text and music of ‘Seen and Not Seen’ as a point of departure for an exhibition that focuses on works that progress slowly in time, ’works gliding into time’. Slow rhythms, metamorphosis, works that leave a trail in time, a tribute to movement. But is it what it seems? What happened to what I have just seen or heard? Work that amazes. Work that isn’t what it seemed. Seen and not seen.

Seven artists have been selected for Seen and Not Seen: Paul Baartmans (A/V-sculpture), Sema Bekirovic (video), Marissa Evers (drawing), Willum Geerts (video), Jannie Regnerus (film), Robbert van der Horst (audio), Jochem van der Spek (video installation) as well as Ward Denys with a .

Seen and Not Seen

He would see faces in movies, on t.v., in magazines, and in books.

He thought that some of these faces might be right for him,

and that through the years,

by keeping an ideal facial structure fixed in his mind,

or somewhere in the back of his mind,

that he might, by force of will,

cause his face to approach those of his ideals.

The change would be very subtle.

It might take ten years or so.

Gradually his face would change its shape.

A more hooked nose; wider, thinner lips; beady eyes; a larger forehead.

He imagined that this was an ability he shared with most other people.

They had also molded their faced according to some ideal.

Maybe they imagined that their new face would better suit their personality.

Or maybe they imagined that their personality

would be forced to change to fit the new appearance.

This is why first impressions are often correct.

Although some people might have made mistakes.

They may have arrived at an appearance that bears no relationship to them.

They may have picked an ideal appearance based on some childish whim,

or momentary impulse.

Some may have gotten half-way there, and then changed their minds.

He wonders if he too might have made a similar mistake.

David Byrne, 1980


With the support of
Flemish Ministry of Culture Belgium, Flemish Community Commission Brussels, met de steun van de Schepen van Vlaamse Aangelegenheden Stad Brussel; Gemeente Haarlem, Provincie Noord Holland & the CCNOA Friends


(photo ccnoa)