Banff Flux-Snowshoe Travels
Loosely described, Filip Van Dingenen's art practice lies at the intersection of art and science. A Brussels-based multimedia artist, he investigates social, historical, anthropological and - very often - zoological issues. In the first step, he analyses and deconstructs the objects of his research before transforming his findings to a new level and format. The process's and outcomes of these transformations vary substantially, depending on the research in question, paying tribute to its specific character. It can, for example, consist of contextualization or re-contextualization, visualisation, documentation or disclosure of references and hidden meanings. Mostly, it is a playful mingling of all of these and further elements, resulting in multifaceted and multi-layered works. As way of expression he uses different techniques; installations, drawing, cabinets, dioramas, archives, videos, books, printed matter, performances, web based projects, lectures, workshops and combined activities.
One of Filip Van Dingenen's main interests lies in human-animal-environmental relations, the perception of zoological institutes in the twenty-first century and the perception of nature. In pursuit of this interest, he created a wide-ranging and ongoing project called Flota Nfumu, based on a rare albino gorilla named Snowflake who spent most of his life in the Barcelona Zoo. This project went deep into research, public memory, and souvenirs of Snowflake's life, and how he affected Sabater Pi, the scientist who brought him to Barcelona, and the people of that city who visited Snowflake in the zoo over 40 years. For an earlier extensive multimedia project, called Zoonation, Van Dingenen collected memories and stories from an abandoned Belgian zoo, tracing the relocated animals around the world.
Recently, Filip Van Dingenen has been invited to the internationally well-known arts residency in the Banff Centre, Canada. This residency gave him the opportunity to study and explore the unique setting he was confronted with. Banff is a town at approximately 1,400 m elevation, located in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, within Canada's oldest National Park. The history of Banff is diverse, having been first settled in the 1880s by train workers along the Canadian Pacific Railway route, soon followed fur traders and mountaineers, amongst many more. Banff also quickly became - and remains till today - a highly popular tourist destination. At the same time, artistic creation developed in Banff. Early on, already at the end of 19th century, the mountains and the mountaineering have been heavily photographed, often in rather ambitious artistic quality. Moreover, since 1933, Banff has public arts institutions that promote progressive contemporary art. The first one was an experimental theatre school, soon followed by dance, music and visual art and the Banff Arts Centre now offers additional programmes in literature, drama, curatorial studies etc.
It is within this frame of references that Filip Van Dingenen started to explore his surroundings and in his solo show at Galerie Waldburger he will present some of his findings. A key inquiry is relating to the history and collective memory of the Rocky Mountains. The relation between humans and nature is a further main issue, as mountaineering can be seen as a symbol for conquering, appropriation and pollution of nature, but also, if conducted in another form, is a tool to learn about and appreciate nature.
In one Banff project, Van Dingenen replaced the physical mountaineering by intervening into the Banff library and extending the collective memory of Banff. In a "hiking tour" through library books, he silkscreened a selection of library maps and books about early exploration of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, thereby leaving clearly visible traces on the objects. The intervention can be seen as the damaging of property but on also as providing enrichment, referring to the ambiguity of mountaineering. In the gallery show, a newly created, compiled index of the books he intervened with at the Banff library will be on view.
Filip Van Dingenen also found in a museum of the Rocky Mountains an old c.1919 Hudson's Bay Company snowshoe. In analysing the snowshoe as important and historically rich mountaineering device, he fabricated a machine to steam ash wood and bend it into the long, tapered shape of hundred-year-old snowshoes. In this context, Van Dingenen produced a typology of old snowshoes which he will also integrate in the gallery show. He also created silkscreens of historical images of the Rockies. He will shown them in a diaprojector slide show in the gallery and use them as an instrument to approach the history and collective memories of the Rocky Mountains.
Further, in a Banff library, while following his preoccupation with the history and collective memory of the Rocky Mountains, he randomly bumped into a Banff library book about the Fluxus movement that refers to a travelling exhibition called Fluxshoe. Van Dingenen immediately connected to this title as his working approach in Banff is characterized by a strong do-it-yourself attitude, mixed with a multimedia art practice and encounters on several levels the spirit of the Fluxus movement. With a tongue-in-cheek he therefore uses the Flux-element in the title for his show at Galerie Waldburger.
Filip Van Dingen was born in Diest, Belgium, he lives in Brussels. Van Dingenen studied Fine Arts at the Provinviale Hogeschool Limburg and Cultural Sciences at the V.U.B. in Brussels. Currently, he is pursuing a Ph.D. in Arts at the LUCA School of Arts - K.U. Leuven.
The work of Van Dingenen has already been shown in many solo exhibitions in institutions and off-spaces, including Komplot, curated by Eva Bialek; Netwerk Artcentre in Aalst, curated by Paul Lagring; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; CC Strombeek Bever, in collaboration with Annelies Vaneycken, curated by Luc Lambrecht; HEDAH Centre for Arts, Maastricht; Humboldt University and Museum for Natural History, Berlin; Artcentre Z33, Hasselt. He further participated in numerous group shows in Belgium and abroad, as, e.g., at the Galerie fur Landschaftskunst in Hamburg or the Museu da Republica in Rio de Janeiro.
Besides the residency in Banff, he has been invited to a residency at the Wiels in Brussels as well as to residences in Barcelona, in Udinese, Italy, and several more. At the moment, Filip Van Dingenen is granted a research residency at the Jan Van Eick Academy in Maastricht.
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