Chambres d'Amis



Object, 97 x 105 x 67 cm .
Materials: wicker, paper, coconut mat

Collection: Private Collection, Galerie Ronny Van de Velde, Antwerp.

This installation was Panamarenko's contribution to the eponymous artistic event organized by Ghent's Museum voor Hedendaagse Kunst during the summer of 1986.  Under the leadership of Jan Hoet, the museum was able to call upon around fifty inhabitants of that city to put their homes (or at least parts of them) at the disposal of a like-number of artists, and this for a period of three months.  The aim here was to break out from the museum's hold of conserving exclusivity by placing today's art within a social context.  This said, Panamarenko did not spare his criticism of the project.       

'I always thought it was a rather annoying notion.  Normally speaking, I was busy with the stars and space travel and theories of bouncing between the planets and such like.  And then all of a sudden I'm supposed to go and make something for folks from the so-called art milieu who wanted something to set on their cabinets or hang on their walls! Yes, and something 'modern' too, because they'd already once picked up a piece here and there.  Well, that means that they wanted a modern variant of all that old crap, without the content being any different, and that annoyed me...'       

Nonetheless, Panamarenko does take part in the project.  His installation winds up at the home of Guido and Lieve De Wilde­Van Peteghem, on Ghent's Olympiadeplein. 

'I had hoped that it wouldn't go through, but in the end it did.  And so I took a birdcage and stuffed it full of money, with a shoebox full of bills along with it (because people liked to say I had my money stowed away in shoeboxes at home), and as a final touch, a doormat where written in large was 'Chambres d'Amis'. So there!'

The event's organizers did not take kindly to his contribution.  Added to this, Panamarenko conspicuously distanced himself from proceedings at the official opening.  He and artist Jef Geys kept themselves to themselves at a separate table, holding forth in animated conversation and eating oysters.

(source: Hans Willemse and Paul Morrens, in: 'Copyright Panamarenko', 2005)


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