Beekman Foundation Belgium
Contemporary art center
A center for contemporary art worthy of the name cannot simply be a place that exhibits nomadic art commodities, but must be a place where art happens, where the people who make art come together to create something new. It is in the nature of contemporary art practices, which deal with rapid changes in every aspect of life, that exhibitions not only show what has been done, but also what is possible, even what it is necessary for art to accomplish. The exhibition is a creative process that begins with the art institution and ends with the public. Artists are somewhere in the middle, essential but no longer autonomous, as they were when it was possible to believe in ‘art for art’s sake.’ The Palazzo delle Papesse is, today, a place where art that is new, in this contemporary sense, thrives. A review of its exhibitions over the past few years testifies to the possibility of creating exhibitions that are themselves original, collaborative works. System Error: War is a force that gives us meaning, is a recent example, and, within it, the installation, Martyrs, a clear case in point.
The concept and basic design of the piece were mine, but the initiative for the project was of the Papesse curators, the development and installation in the hands of my collaborator, and the actual making was done by craftspeople in Siena. Each stage was a transformation of the previous one, and that is as it should be. When a creative process becomes a matter of merely reproducing an artist’s ideas, it ends with a mere commodity, another object in the chain of consumption.
As an architect, committed to the idea that art participates in transient social situations, I hold as my ideal that the object of art is the product of a free dialogue between creative people. The final result should be different than the initial design. Of course, free dialogue, like creativity, is risky. Its outcome is not entirely controlled, its product not guaranteed to conform to anyone’s expectations. Not everyone, therefore, is prepared to take the risk, especially those responsible for spending large sums of public money. For this reason, many arts institutions remain committed to the older, ‘masterwork’ idea of art. Perhaps they are right to do so. Perhaps it is only the masterworks that will endure. But I, and the public, who live in the volatile and uncertain present and not in a secure posterity, must be grateful to the Papesse for works of art that resolutely share this risky space and time with us.
10 May 2007
The Beekman Foundation was set up in 2006 by the Belgian-born, US-based citizen, Jan Beekman. It has set itself the aims of managing, archiving and documenting the work of Jan Beekman, and of giving a greater exposure to his work, by means of publications, a website, lectures, conferences, and exhibitions. In addition to the Foundation’s intention to stimulate and coordinate a worldwide distribution of Beekman’s artwork, its wish is to set up and support activities that will involve other, and especially younger, artists who are close to Beekman’s line of thinking. Central to this are an intense link to nature, and the often forgotten populations that used to live in harmony with their surroundings, and social engagement. He is also committed to a multicultural and multimedia approach