Balancing between art and architecture
Joris Van de Moortel is an artist, musician and performer. In his work, these different disciplines overlap. He uses remnants of earlier performances, such as broken instruments, to create an installation or new work. "For me it’s important that certain works that I make are actually linked to a real event that occurred outside my studio and in front of an audience.
Why is it essential for you to also work outside your studio?
Joris Van de Moortel: "Take a broken guitar that I want to use in an installation, for example. I would never just break it in my studio, pour some paint and wax on it and set the whole thing on fire. However, I would do that during a performance in a public space, because that requires a completely different attitude. You are limited in time and you have an audience. The adrenaline that comes with such a live performance pushes me to make different decisions than if I were to create the same work in my studio."
So the environment or situation in which you create a work also influences the result?
"Definitely. Something I work on a lot, and which fascinates me enormously, is the transition from a scale model to an installation of 10 by 5 metres, for example. In order to translate the model into a large work, I have to look for materials that seamlessly match my original idea, but are also strong enough from a technical point of view. So you lose certain details, but on the other hand, you can also add interesting elements, like neon that really burns or speakers blasting music.”
That is when art and architecture seem to move very close to one another. What do you think the relationship between the two is?
"As an artist, I am indeed also concerned with the technical aspects. I think about how best to install an installation, or about what can and cannot be done in a certain environment. I find it fascinating to subject my work to such external factors. But if I always wanted to work that way, I would have become an architect. Gordon Matta-Clark, an artist who often balanced on the edge between art and architecture, once said, ‘The difference between architecture and sculpture is whether there is plumbing’. Art has no use in the most literal sense of the word.”
Some buildings balance on the edge of art. How do you see the ratio of art and architecture in those kinds of designs?
"Such buildings sometimes struggle in terms of practicality. An example is the Liège railway station, where many practical things were omitted in order to make the architecture stand out. The result is that the station is very difficult to maintain. The same goes for a beautiful new apartment building where you can see the garbage bags on the terraces. You can create the most beautiful of designs, but those who actually use the building also partly make or break it. That's the fascinating thing about architecture."
Does that also apply to art in public spaces? Is it partly made by the public?
"Less so, because the public can also choose to completely ignore art. For me, that's one of the essential aspects of art in public spaces: you open up your work to an audience that hasn't asked for it."
So what is the role of art in public spaces in your opinion?
"I think it's essential that the work enforces a certain necessity. You need to feel it: it was necessary for this work of art to be added to this space. If you take it away, there must be some kind of emptiness, not a sense of relief.”
If you could choose one place in the world to place a work of art, which place would you choose?
"I would choose the most beautiful place in West Flanders! Maybe this magazine will end up in the hands of partners who are interesting to work with. So my answer to this question is, proposals are more than welcome".