TRACK In Ghent — A Review

TRACK art festival has taken over the city of Ghent in Belgium. Curators Philippe van Cauteren and Mirjam Varadinis gave the keys of 6 areas to 41 international artists to create new work and feed a reflection about urban challenges. For this museum without walls, artists used sites as material to raise questions about the contemporary city.

TRACK takes the visitor on various routes, in both Ghent’s inner and outer city. It is up to the visitor to decide which cluster to visit and when, on foot or by bike, with or without a map. “Each individual creates his own version of TRACK and writes his own narrative,” says Mirjam Varadinis. Some of these sites are opened especially for TRACK, some will be demolished after TRACK, and others show secret doors. Locals can re-discover hidden gems. New visitors do not limit themselves to the old, clean, renovated Ghent and venture in places they would have not thought about.

Every cluster has its own characteristics and character, shows beauty spots and problems of Ghent. But the local reality in Ghent is a mirror of the global challenge. As many cities in the world, Ghent needs to address transport, migration, urban planning, tourism, health issues and so on. TRACK makes you think about the City in its diversity and complexity. Have a look at the selection of works of art below, then go to Ghent and leave your traces.

Search & Destroy by Mekhitar Garabedian

Cluster #1: Centrum
Moscou-Bernadette by Emilio López-Menchero — The former city library has been transformed into an intimate cinema with two screens. While an inhabitant of one district sing, the inhabitant of the other district listens. Via these film portraits, 30 inhabitants of the Moscou and Bernadette neighbourhoods are sharing their culture and personalities.

Cluster #2: Macharius
Favela for Ghent by Tadashi Kawamata — In the basin of the crowded ring road of Gent-Dampoort station, Tadashi Kawamata has built a favela. The temporary homemade houses are made of recycled wood, pallets and corrugated iron. They could be shelter for the homeless gathering around the station. They could be a temporary accommodation for the migrants and refugees that just arrived in the city. They are making the invisible visible.

Cluster #3: Tolhuis
Silent Studio by Mark Manders — Mark Manders’s TRACK studio opens the doors of the empty two-hundred-year-old Voortman House.

Photo by Dirk Pauwels

The sunlight passing through the sealed windows gives a dreamy atmosphere to the Empire style interior. Manders’ sculptures installed in every room of the first floor look timeless, left by the owners that successively lived there since the 19th century.

Vogelenzangpark 17 bis by Benjamin Verdonck

Cluster #4: Tondelier
Detitled by Peter Buggenhout — When entering the former ‘Golden Gloves’ boxing club, I had the the impression that the imaginary upper floors of the building collapsed. At the same time, this monstrous installation made of industrial materials collected in the Tondelier area shows a delicate balance. I was both afraid and attracted by it.

Cluster #5: Citadel
Hotel Gent by Tazu Rous — Hotel Gent is a hotel room built around the 100 year old clock of Sint Pieters train station. The room is fully booked until September but TRACK visitors are allowed to visit it during the day.

Left photo by Dirk Pauwels

This huge public monument you usually see high above is now right in the middle of an intimate space. You can sleep next to it, touch it, see it differently. The Japanese artist Tazu Rous is interested in creating contact between iconic objects taken from public space and the indoor intimate sphere. Click here for more work by this artist.

‘Irom Etra Orp Tse Muroced Te Eclud’ by Leo Copers. Criticism of art tourism

Cluster #6: Blandijn
Bookyard by Massimo Bartolini — Massimo Bartolini translated his love for books and wine into the Bookyard installation which aligns the vines of St Peter’s abbey with bookcases. The green bookcases are filled with thousands of books that you can buy or exchange.

After a quick nap in St Peter’s garden, I walked between the bookcases and I flicked through books randomly. Outside of the installation, I dissected the perspective of this altered landscape. Inside, surrounding noises tone down and I focus on the covers and titles of books. Outside, I cannot refrain myself from using my digital camera to capture this original sculpture and share it with everyone. Inside, I felt fine with a book and myself.

‘Op Het Op’ by Lawrence Weiner. Language is sculptural

TRACK is running until September 16, 2012. Head over to the TRACK website for more information. All pictures were taken by Joëlle Payet (@jojopai) unless stated.