S.M.A.K. presents an extensive overview of the work by Denicolai & Provoost

From 13 February until 30 May, S.M.A.K. is presenting an extensive overview of the work of italo-belgian artist duo Simona Denicolai & Ivo Provoost.

Simona Denicolai (b. 1972, Milan) and Ivo Provoost (b. 1974, Diksmuide) have been working as the artistic duo Denicolai & Provoost since the mid-1990s. For more than twenty years now, the artist duo Denicolai & Provoost have been working on a multidisciplinary practice that seeks to disrupt our normal ways of thinking and routine behaviour. This exhibition offers a comprehensive overview of the artistic strategies they have developed as a way of questioning reality. 

Using protocols and scenarios that they have devised, and which are firmly rooted in a place’s unique characteristics, the pair involve people, objects and stories as ‘collaborators’ in their artistic process. The exchanges that these evoke are embedded in a local reality, whilst also touching upon universal themes such as citizenship, identity and solidarity.

Denicolai & Provoost constantly move within diverse communities: from a Spanish fish market to a Dutch commune or a working-class neighbourhood in Ghent. The time they spend in these places teaches them volumes about how the social order is established and might also be rethought. Through their work, the artists activate these communities and the people, objects and stories that belong to them.

An example of this practice, is the work Eyeliner (2020). For this project they selected a range of objects found on the windowsills of Ghent, which they noticed on several walks around the city. With the owners’ consent, the objects have been made available as loans to this temporary composition in S.M.A.K.. Meanwhile, signs in the windows state: “The object usually shown behind this window has been loaned to another exhibition, at S.M.A.K., from 12 February to 30 May 2021. Our apologies for the inconvenience.”

The process-oriented working method of Denicolai & Provoost results in videos, performances and installations, but also in models or studies that may never be executed. The exhibition invites us to read these diverse forms in an equal way. They all draw meaning from Denicolai & Provoost’s characteristic approach to art as an active concept. Do we merely look at the artworks or, for example, also choose to plant or to eat them? Comment penser la même autre chose? (How to see the same thing differently?).

Ten Cakes ​ (2018) for example, are ten cakes that will be offered every Sunday morning from 10:00 to 12:00 in the exhibition room. The cakes refer to a request of monuments to be erected in Genk, Belgium. Monuments devoted to the resistance, the deportation of Jewish refugees, the area’s mining history and the closure of Ford Genk, among other things. Denicolai & Provoost question the function and meaning of monuments. Why do we claim places within the public domain in an attempt to commemorate the past? The cakes are a catalyst for gatherings and alternative ways of being together, through which the past can be literally and collectively digested.

The exhibition also offers the first museum presentation of their recent animated film HELLO, ARE WE IN THE SHOW? (2019). As a contemporary sequel to the 16th-century tapestry series Les Chasses de Maximilien (The Hunts of Maximilian), the film takes us past a number of scenes in the Sonian forest. Nature is not idealised, but placed in a critical perspective that reveals the interaction and interdependence between all life forms. This recent work of Denicolai & Provoost is a co-production with S.M.A.K. and, on the occasion of the exhibition, has been reworked into an impressive installation that occupies the entire main gallery on the first floor. The film’s storyboard has been part of the S.M.A.K. collection since 2016.

Denicolai & Provoost
Hello, are we in the show? (comment voir la même autre chose)
13.02.2021 – 30.05.2021

Jan Hoetplein 1, 9000 Ghent




Exhibition guide

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