Project, 13.05.2017

Dirk Braeckman – Belgian Pavilion
Biennale di Venezia 2017

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Dirk Braeckman’s photographic works bring stillness to today’s constant flow of images and
information. For the 57th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, the Belgian pavilion
will be presenting a series of the artist’s monumental photographic prints with a grey-tone palette on
baryta paper, curated by M-Museum Leuven’s senior curator, Eva Wittocx. Since the 1980s,
Braeckman has explored the boundaries of the medium and challenged photographic conventions.
Using analogue techniques, he has developed his own visual language that focuses on the act of
viewing and reflects on the status of the image. His images show anonymous subjects from his
immediate surroundings, evoking entirely open stories. Empty rooms in which time seems to stand
still, elements of interchangeable interiors or human figures – all separate from any specific identity,
place, time or emotion. Seemingly quiet moments and banal contexts are brewing with action.
Slowing down, seeking silence and peace, are all embodied in the works themselves as well as the
artist’s process. Instead of instant gratification, Braeckman might even take years before developing a
negative as he wants to approach them in a more distanced manner. The resulting clandestine
images never reveal too much – it’s not about photographs that can be duplicated or recognized at a
glance. Experimentation is crucial for both the registration of Braeckman’s images by the camera and
their subsequent processing: the artist essentially creates his images in the darkroom. Over- and
underexposure, manipulation and development of the negative and photographic paper consistently
result in new and unrepeatable images; grain, spots, cropping and flattening of perspective resist an
immediate reading or interpretation of his work. Instead, they only hint at the underlying poetic
potential.