UFO Visitor #5: Valentijn Byvanck (Marres House for Contemporary Culture, Maastricht) - kopie

Valentijn Byvanck Sanne Peper 1

I am direc­tor of Marres, House for Contemporary Culture, Maastricht, the Netherlands. In Marres, I devel­o­ped with my team an inter­dis­ci­pli­na­ry pro­gram focu­sed on the sen­ses, the lan­gu­a­ges of the body and the natu­re of expe­rien­ce. We also orga­ni­zed numerous exhi­bi­ti­ons and pro­grams, inclu­ding Currents (now copro­du­ced by Z33) for young talent, the Limburg Biennale for local artists, ROOMS, for per­for­man­ce art and Training the Senses, a work­shop series for trans­mit­ting expe­rien­ce. Extra cur­ri­cu­lar acti­vi­ties (much nee­ded I belie­ve to keep fresh) inclu­de being chair at the Fund for the Performing Arts, board mem­ber at the Brakke Grond and guest-tea­cher at the Toneelacademie (the­a­tre aca­de­my) Maastricht. Previously, I wor­ked at Kunstinstituut Melly (befo­re: Witte de With), and was direc­tor of the Zeeuws Museum and the Museum of National History. I have a PhD in cul­tu­ral his­to­ry from New York University.

What are you cur­rent­ly wor­king on?

Currently I am com­ple­ting texts for the cahier for Images of the Unconscious, an exhi­bi­ti­on with works by Brazilian artists. In addi­ti­on, I am wor­king on a col­la­bo­ra­ti­ve pro­ject for artists, musi­cians, cho­re­o­grap­hers with the ARKO foun­da­ti­on in Korea, and making a plan for a per­for­man­ce fes­ti­val at the Art Rotterdam.

How would you defi­ne your practice?

Eager to esca­pe the eve­ry­day, I am always trying to find prac­ti­ces that sug­gest new ways to view the world, new voca­bu­la­ries that are non-linear, asso­ci­a­ti­ve and not neces­sa­ri­ly lan­gu­a­ge based. In pre­pa­ring exhi­bi­ti­ons, I often work for a lon­ger peri­od clo­se­ly together with artists and some­ti­mes cura­tors to pre­pa­re them for the con­text of their work, i.e. the hou­se of Marres, and the set­ting in which they will con­cep­tu­a­li­ze and bring their work. Periodically I give the hou­se over to artists and give them a car­te blan­che. I ask them a sim­ple ques­ti­on: how would it be for visi­tors if they could be insi­de your work? These car­te blan­che shows can be qui­te immersi­ve and trans­form the hou­se into a baro­que pala­ce, a jun­gle gar­den, a roof­top lands­ca­pe etc.

How do you see your rela­ti­ons­hip with artists?

My rela­ti­ons­hip with artists is often that of clo­se col­la­bo­ra­ti­on. I pre­fer to work together on the ide­as and posi­ti­o­ning of the works/​installations. I don’t medd­le with the work they make, but act as spar­ring part­ner, faci­li­ta­tor and cri­tic. At the same time I take very serious­ly the role cura­tors in public insti­tu­ti­ons need to take: they need to be medi­a­tors bet­ween artists and the publics.

What do you expect from the UFO visi­tors programme?

I hope to fami­li­a­ri­ze myself (and Marres) bet­ter with artists, art ini­ti­a­ti­ves, cura­tors and insti­tu­ti­ons in Belgium. While inte­rested in new prac­ti­ces and artists, I also hope to par­ti­ci­pa­te in the buil­ding of a net­work in which we can find each other to col­la­bo­ra­te, sha­re expe­rien­ce, and enrich our res­pec­ti­ve art ecologies.