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group exhibition

New Reform

Simona Brinkmann / Maria Degrève / Francis Denys / Nico Dockx / Saki Satom / Steve Schepens / New Reform Archief

SA 11.03 — SA 15.04 2006

From 1970 to 1979, the art centre New Reform (based in Aalst) developed an internationally oriented activity in the sphere of - among other things - performance and conceptual art. With a passionate, sometimes almost militant approach, New Reform engaged in a broadening of the notion of art and in a transformation of the art practice. Quite early and as one of the few in Belgium, New Reform functioned as a platform for performance artists, for concrete poetry, for video art and for experimental variants of music, theatre and film. With this initiative, the inspirer of New Reform Roger D'Hondt wanted to make a stand against the one-dimensional recuperation of artworks in the commercial circuit of galleries and in the institutional environment of museums. In the field of artistic presentation, he pleaded a liberation from the traditional exhibition model, in which both the artist and the spectator have a mere passive role and in which the artwork remains a commodity. The ambition of New Reform was to be more than just an art centre, to be a wider 'centre for ideas', with an information function in the common ground of art, politics and society.

In every respect, the current exhibition New Reform marks a significant moment for Netwerk / center for contemporary art. The former Netwerk Gallery started its public action in 1988 with the presentation New Reform 1970-79 / The Audiovisual Aspect, as part of a retrospective exhibition on different locations in Aalst. More important however is that the (recent) past of New Reform still remains a pertinent point for the practice of art and exhibition-making today. The issues that New Reform dealt with, seem to carry a special relevance for a new generation of artists. This generation is concerned with a specific approach to new and often time-based media. Moreover they question and reconsider notions such as 'performativity', engagement, history and the construction of meaning. The work of the artists Simona Brinkmann, Maria Degrève, Francis Denys, Nico Dockx, Saki Satom and Steve Schepens is confronted with reconstructions of and from the New Reform archive. Some of the artists really get to work with the data and the notions in this archive.

This exhibition is part of the project New Reform Archive, in which the impressive archive of New Reform is investigated and disclosed with the help of a number of persons concerned, historians, archivists and curators.