Director exchange with Frans Masereel Centrum

At the end of July Kristien van den Oever, director of AGA LAB, joined the Frans Masereel Center (FMC) in Kasterlee, Belgium. In the autumn of 2017 Sofie Dederen, director of the FMC, will be repaying the visit. Previously, Ivan Durt and Tom Dries visited AGA LAB to find out more about the ‘daily usage’ of AGA LAB, the collective Do It Yourself function of our workplace.

Since the establishment of Platform Werkplaatsen, one of the focal points is knowledge exchange between equivalent institutions. FMC and AGA LAB are both specialized in printing techniques. In addition, both experiment and research are at the forefront of both.

Where we distinguish each other: FMC is aimed at artists-in-residence and has nine specially designed cottages on its site. Each year once a year 70 artists can be resided through a call and selected by a selection committee. AGA LAB is historically aimed primarily at ‘day artists’ and has a minimum of two artists per month at residence and selects – besides local artists that work at AGA LAB on their own initiative – artists in programs such as BinnenlandAtelier (initiated by Mondriaan Fund) and East Type West Type (local collaboration with GWA and Podium Mozaïek). FMC is part of the Belgian government, AGA LAB is a foundation which is partially funded by the subsidiary of the AFK.

Kristien has focused on the guidance structure of the residents. And, of course, also had attention for the entire organization from Sofie’s perspective. Every week, the work consultation starts with an overview of all activities. What was noticed was the good guidance structure.

On the one hand, internally through intakes and weekly artists’ meetings where people show each other how everyone develops the project.

In addition, certain components also strengthen the promotion of print in contemporary art. FMC invites an external curator from the contemporary art field, such as Wiels, every six weeks. This is to get to know the work and the artist, next to that the artist extends his network.

Kristien had the opportunity to visit the eight artists and researchers in the role of curator. The fascinating, even during such a director’s exchange, is the intense and iterative making and research process of the artists. Like May Heek who went on printing after working on digital photography. Or Lorenza Caroli who started off with etching and embossing, and ended up creating paper to display her own designed braille script.

“The work visit was very inspiring and valuable. By looking inside the kitchen – or better cooking in the other kitchen – I not only gained knowledge, reflection and new ideas, but it also made it easier for us to call, consult and collaborate. This we cherish within Platform Werkplaatsen.”