Placenta Saturnine Bercail
in Zeno X Gallery, Antwerpen, Belgium, from 22 Jan 2022 to 26 Feb 2022
Zeno X Gallery presents the retrospective exhibition Placenta Saturnine Bercail by Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven
(b. 1951 in Antwerp). Historical and new works illustrate her forty-year collaboration with Zeno X Gallery. A
substantial publication presenting an overview of all her exhibitions in the gallery with images from the archive
will be released to coincide with this exhibition.
Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven has collected a large database of images of women in various stages of undress.
The poses, gazes, attributes and camera angles are usually very stereotypical. These clichés are occasions
for her to connect the underlying meanings of the images with other, sociopolitical dimensions of society.
Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven likes to look for the tension between word and image. Since images of women are
regularly used to sell certain goods, Van Kerckhoven got the idea to also sell abstract ideas or concepts by
juxtaposing them with images of women: “As my alter ego ‘HeadNurse’, I took ninety-six female images from
my database and connected them with words from texts on internal self-organization, thermodynamics and
knowledge representation. Through the systematic use and reuse of images of women – from the first nude
magazines to the sexual revolution– I activated a five-step alchemical process, starting from thinkers in the
baroque to Nietzsche.”
The exhibition gathers several historical works that have previously been shown at Zeno X Gallery. In 1991
Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven presented her fifth solo exhibition entitled Met Onderandere een Hard Lichaam
(With Among Others a Hard Body). In that exhibition she presented a series of four works on doors, of which
three are to be seen in this show, namely The Word Became Flesh (a Door to Nowhere), Resistir and Alter Ego.
The fourth work, entitled Ectoplasm, will soon be on show at Zeno X Gallery Antwerp South as part of the
fortieth anniversary of Zeno X Gallery. ‘I made a mental striptease starting from photos that my then boyfriend
took of me in 1977. Each of those works is a different interpretation of how you expose yourself: half hidden
behind a crack, doubled by a mirror, or open like a fan.’
It is striking that the themes that Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven addresses in her historical works are still the
subjects that characterize her recent works: working in an intuitive and unconventional way, she explores
topics such as science, language and artificial intelligence. In doing so, she creates a universe of her own, in
which the oppositions between chaos and order, logic and mysticism, eroticism and technology are eliminated.
She brings together the most disparate elements by combining images from the surrounding visual culture
with references to elements from the symbolism of numbers and colours or findings on role patterns and
other power mechanisms in society. She has also remained faithful to certain choices in terms of materials.
Plexiglas is still one of the materials with which Van Kerckhoven prefers to work; to her, plastic, the synthetic,
is a metaphor for the malleability of life. Reflections, symmetries and doublings are used to reveal visual
information in a different way.
Some time ago, Van Kerckhoven received strange emails in which random words were listed in columns. The
words were placed in threes by algorithms and she used these combinations as titles of the new works, such
as Dudoute Toaster Absolu or Premiere Celu Garnitures. The title of the exhibition, Placenta Saturnine Bercail,
was also generated by artificial intelligence, yet it has a specific meaning for her:
“Placenta: all the work I make starts from my womb
Saturnine: Saturn is the planet of artists
Bercail: an old French word for stable. This is how I see the security that being connected to a mother gallery
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