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FREEK WAMBACQ

RAIN AFTER SNOW

14.09 - 26.10.2013
Objectif Exhibitions, Antwerp

By Nav Haq

Rain after snow


In place of a preamble 

On 26 Aug 2013, at 13:03, Nav Haq wrote:
 
Dear Freek,

I hope you are well? We met quite recently with Chris Fitzpatrick at Homey in Antwerp.
I was contacted by the webzine Le Salon asking about the possibility of the two of us doing an interview about your exhibition at Objectif Exhibitions. It would be very nice to do something together in this way, and which might also support your project in Antwerp.
Would you be interested? I could prepare a few questions for you. Perhaps if you are likely to be in Antwerp soon, we could meet for an hour or so to do it? It should go online near the beginning of your exhibition.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Nav
 
From: Freek Wambacq
Sent: 29 August 2013 14:29
To: Nav Haq
Subject: Re: interview
 
Dear Nav,

Thanks for your writing.
Sure, I remember we met. How are you? 

Indeed, Le Salon contacted me with the proposition of you writing about my show. Thanks for accepting.

Actually I think instead of a classic interview it could be more interesting to write down our conversation while walking along the different locations of the project.
 The walk takes about an hour and a half, two hours. 
I'll be installing in Antwerp from the 10th of September on. We could have lunch or have a beer in the beginning of that week (the 10th for example) and meet for the walk on Friday the 13th when all the works are installed.

What do you think? Do you have time to do it this way?

Very best,

Freek
 


I go to meet Freek Wambacq in the early evening during the first day of his installation period at Objectif Exhibitions. The plan was for him to take me around the various sites around the centre on Antwerp where the displays and interventions of his projects Rain after snow were to be presented. None of the works would be on display yet actually, but a tour with the artist himself providing descriptions and insights stood in perfectly. Appropriately even, in a certain sense, when considering his project is about something standing in for the idea of something else.
 
To summarise, Rain after snow extends an ongoing project by Wambacq that is about the sound effects created in ‘Foley’ studio environments – places where sounds mimicking common events, activities or occurrences through using objects and materials unrelated to them are created, such as could commonly have been heard on old–fashioned radio plays for example. The items used to make the sounds are presented as themselves, like still lives, sitting atop tables. But for this iteration, thirteen works are presented in various non-art places, as well as one, perhaps the first, at Objectif Exhibitions, and you are able to make your own route to go round and view some or all of them.
 
Though there is no specific route to view all these exhibits, the map provided does suggest a sequence for a kind of sonic loop, beginning and ending with meteorological phenomena, and an accumulation of sounds with their own narrative logic in between. The ground floor gallery space at Objectif Exhibitions could perhaps be considered the fixed starting point, and already installed there was the eponym work of the exhibition’s title, Rain after snow, comprising of two large and rather unassuming stacks in the otherwise empty space, one of salt and the other of cornstarch. Each work named to imply the sounds of the natural phenomena they can be used in one way or another to mimic. A lot of the other exhibits are equally as slight and minimalistic, at least in how I could imagine them. From Objectif, we start to walk together, and Wambacq gives me some background to his project, how it began, his research process for finding out about how the different sounds are made, and how it grew into this new form specifically for sites in the public realm.
 
We pass a hairdresser shop where Roaring fire (hot air) – comprising of some cellophane foil – was to be eventually located; followed by a hearing aid centre where Rustling leaves – some magnetic audio tape – which was to be placed in the window. We then pass the building of the National Bank of Belgium where there is a further layer of removal; the work Landslide – an electric toothbrush – will be placed there, however the bank will become closed to the public, rendering the physicality of the work to also be envisioned in the mind. After visiting a few more sites, the rain interrupts the journey, and so we stop in a café for a drink. It provides an opportunity to talk a bit more about the project. Particularly around how it was important that there be a certain level of site-specificity so that the inserted works could be evocative of some event or activity related to that place, whether it be the sound of some kind of work, to violence, to metaphors of financial catastrophe.
 
Just from hearing Wambacq talking about the project, I cannot help but interpret Rain after snow as some kind of comment on how culture has transitioned to a more visually-focused one. There seems something inherent in his project that is about technology, particularly technologies that feel close to redundancy or that seem anachronistic. Technologies from a time when things were still allowed to be visualised in the mind. Sound effects used for the radio drama serial might be associated with the pre-digital 20th century for example. There is even a certain nostalgia and romanticism in all the evocations of sound here too, including also for those emulating the sound of art-making, with for example Painting oil portraits – some chamois leather – the title of which even specifying the kind of traditional genre. We continue walking, visiting the site of Spontaneous glass breakage – bar chimes and whiskey bottles – at a billiards shop, and then finally on to a old clockmaker’s shop where Cuckoos and Warblers – leather gloves and dusters – was to be sited, before going to get a last drink. Though I hadn’t actually seen anything, except for the yet-to-be-filled-spaces where these objects would come to be placed, I had still in a sense experienced it all through Wambacq’s spoken portrayal – a sort of psycho-geography of explanations.
 
Rain after snow runs from 14 September – 26 October 2013 at Objectif Exhibitions
 
From Weather to Weather – At 12pm on Saturday 12 October, weatherman Sean Lynch and Freek Wambacq will lead people on a tour of all the sites.
 
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