Museum for a Small City
The work of Richard Venlet is strongly related to the functional, historical and architectural space in which it is shown. He designs environments that also work as presentation models and in which the culture of collecting and exhibiting is explored in conjunction with other artists, architects, curators and theorists.
Museum for a Small City, which has been part of the S.M.A.K. collection since 2013, specifically investigates the activities and function of a museum. Each presentation of the artwork is conceived as an activation. It unfolds on the basis of changing selections from the S.M.A.K. archive and collection, which are further expanded upon in conversations, lectures, workshops and performances. In this way, the artist provides the museum with an instrument for opening up its history in an alternative way and, in so doing, to formulate contemporary narratives. The multifaceted status that this work from the collection has consequently acquired – as a display, research instrument, discursive space and autonomous artwork – forms the starting point of this third activation entitled ‘Rebuild’.
Museum for a Small City is named after an unrealised museum design (1941-43) by architect Mies van der Rohe, in which the architecture is radically simplified in order to emphasise the works on display. Venlet has not only borrowed the title of this architectural study, but also the endless possibilities of the grid that organises his floor object as a modular form.
Performance The Host: An Incomplete History of Performance at S.M.A.K. by Ula Sickle
Recorded in S.M.A.K. Gent, February 2020
Lennert De Taeye