TRACK is a S.M.A.K. production. The exhibition stretches out over the city of Ghent with 44 works of art and installations. And we (visitors, tourists, locals, commuters, staff, children, adults, adolescents) are directly involved. While one visitor’s attention may by chance be caught by a single work, another really wants to root around and see the whole exhibition. And it is this kind of action and interaction that the curators Philippe Van Cauteren and Mirjam Varadinis have in mind.
“Miriam Varadinis and I set out in search of artists who have one thing in common: they enter into a dialogue with an environment. We found them in seventeen countries, from different generations, and have brought all their very diverse, art forms together in a vast exhibition. This TRACK will fill the summer with surprising and enriching encounters and for me TRACK will succeed if it leaves a final track of reflection on contemporary urban reality.” Philippe Van Cauteren is artistic director of S.M.A.K. and curator of TRACK.
“TRACK offers a great opportunity to further explore this idea of bringing art to unusual spaces and to offer a new perspective on both art and the environment in which it is shown. The notion of the site as material is very important to me and this idea also stands at the core of TRACK. I want to curate shows that leave traces. Therefore I embrace the totality of an exhibition: the ‘before’ and the ‘after’ as well as the ‘during’. Some of the artists in TRACK I have known for years. We’ve been working together on several occasions and TRACK offers a wonderful opportunity to continue a common journey or (hi)story.” Mirjam Varadinis is curator and responsible for contemporary art at Kunsthaus Zu?rich and curator of TRACK.
TRACK aims to approach the city in its full complexity. The two stations, Dampoort and Sint-Pieters, are the city’s entrance and exit. The exhibition is therefore not conceived as a linear narration with one theme but as a universe of parallel stories that offer a wide variety of angles and experiences; it uses the six clusters as blueprints for phenomena not only relevant to Ghent, but to other cities all over the world. The two curators wrote a manifesto precisely one year before the opening of the exhibition. Very deliberately, it did not begin with ‘Ghent has no boundaries’, but with ‘A city has no boundaries’.
In the city centre and its immediate surroundings, TRACK will mark out six areas, each with its own distinct character: the area around the Citadel Park, home to the cultural bastions of the S.M.A.K., the Museum of Fine Art and the HISK; the area around the university library ‘Book Tower’ and the Vooruit arts centre, with its high concentration of educational institutions and student amenities; the historical heart of the city where trade has flourished for centuries; the Macharius/Heirnis neighbourhood, where the River Leie joins the Scheldt and which was the cradle of the city; the surroundings of Fratersplein, which combines a large number of care institutions; and the area between the Gasmeter site and the Rabot high-rise blocks, an old industrial district that is being converted into a new residential area. The two stations – Gent-Sint-Pieters and Gent-Dampoort – act as anchor-points for the whole project.
International artists (among them, Alberto Garutti, Danh Vo, Pawel Althamer, Peter & David Fischli & Weiss, Elmgreen & Dragset) are being invited to work at indoor and outdoor locations in the various neighbourhoods. They will make use of the local context and the abundant diversity of the urban realm: history, architecture, sociography, culture, population, infrastructure and so on. At the same time they will raise vital questions about our globalised world. So as part of the circuit the visitor will not only come across stories about Ghent, but will also be offered views on ageing, migration, religion, etc.