Tim Bruggeman – Artist in Residence winter 21/22
Last winter, visual artist Tim Bruggeman was our guest as artist in residence. From day one, his project buzzed around in our studio. “Have you seen what Tim is doing? Have you seen his gigantic archive? What will he do with it?” When I got to our mezzanine floor, I knew immediately who Tim must be. He sat at the large table completely surrounded by piles of magazines and loose pages of Sabena Revue magazines.
Sabena NV was the national airline of Belgium from 1923 to 2001 and published a magazine twice a year. Tim bought a large batch some time ago. The Revues are real finds for vintage collectors. But Tim does not want to collect them, he makes a new work with them.
The magazines around him are strictly ordered piles. And on the floor, various collages of image and text material carefully selected from the magazines are created. He organizes, cuts, combines, scans, organizes, cuts, combines, while listening to a new podcast or playlist. This is a big project, that is immediately clear. And very interesting too.
I (Barbara Collé employee Knust/AGALAB) worked at the same time with him on the mezzanine and in between we talked about the following things.
You will create new work here based on a gigantic archive of Sabena Revue magazines. What appeals to you in these magazines?
I had one of the Sabena Revue magazines lying around in my studio for several years. The design, the photographic images and the written texts caught my attention. In a curious way, tourism, art, advertising and luxury come together. It seems as if these magazines, in images and text, provide a glimpse of the time frame of the second half of the 21st century. Slowly I saw the potential to work with this material. In the run-up to the residency at AGALAB, I bought a whole series of magazines and did the first experiments.
Within my artistic practice I often start from existing archives that for one reason or another catch my attention. I start to dissect the source material, to strip it to make something out of it. Often it is also staring at a single element and investigating how I can purify this. I usually work on two tracks. On the one hand, I delve into themes related to the archive material. On the other hand, I do material tests in which I use, combine and sometimes even abuse reproduction techniques. New work is created when both tracks cross each other, so that image and carrier presuppose each other.
You have guided me several times in the different steps you have taken. You showed me different directions and possibilities of image and text sequences. Thanks to your edits, they are all their own stories with their own focus. How do you ultimately arrive at a choice from all those options that you then work out?
Once I start a new project I take enough time to familiarize myself with the source material. For example, during the first two weeks I took the collection of magazines apart and deconstructed them into their basic elements: structures, image categories, captions, advertising texts. From these exercises, many sketches were created for new visual work that I want to continue in the coming year.
A residency in a well-equipped print shop is also an excellent opportunity to experiment with a new technique. The Riso machine here in the gym is a printing technique that Knust and AGALAB offer that I hadn’t worked with before. It was an important reason to come here. So I quickly knew I wanted to experiment with this technique. Therefore, the use of images and layered images was obvious. So the choice of printing technique influenced my route here quite a bit.
I see the Riso publication that I have made in the last two weeks as part of my research. It’s not a final work, but I’m glad it’s here. It’s always good to finish something, tie it up, give it a title and literally wrap it up. I had a lot of fun with the process, Riso is really a wonderful machine with its own way of working.
Once back in Belgium I worked intensively for another month with the Sabena Revue magazines. In the meantime I have a clearer picture of how I want to finish the publication. I plan to isolate the captions accompanying the images from their context so that they appear as concrete poetry. The result will show itself as a fictitious travelogue. It still takes some time and research to find an exciting and accurate sequence. Once the result is ready, I will be happy to present it in AGALAB.
I hope so and the whole team here with me. Did you learn anything here besides Riso? Or do you have a tip for other artist in residence who are thinking of coming to work here at AGALAB?
Many evenings I was working almost alone in the studio. The people who work in the studio during the day were all gone. More than ever, I was able to continue working in the evenings, which gave me a whole new rhythm. What I also did was close each day with an overview of the steps I had taken that day. Then I critically looked at what I liked and what didn’t and I already made a plan for tomorrow. That worked very well. As a result, the new day did not start completely open, I entered the workshop with a plan. And working non-stop for a month in another place is always good to gain more insight into your own work process. I understand better and better how I work and how I can proceed my process.
Thank you for sharing this with us and thank you also for all your great feedback on the work of other artists and of course for your podcasts and music.