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An archive portfolio as a starting point

Focus Presentation #2 is based on an archive portfolio full of sketches, photos and written project proposals by Berlinde De Bruyckere. The portfolio is unique because it gives us an direct insight into a specific part of the artist’s work process: the development of an exhibition.

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The genesis of an exhibition

In 1995 the Middelheim Museum presented the first major solo exhibition by Berlinde De Bruyckere: Onschuld kan een hel zijn. Now, 25 years later, the archive portfolio of the same name gives us a unique view of how that exhibition came about. It contains drawings, working photos and writings that enabled the artist to give shape to her ideas and discuss them with the museum.


A glance at the portfolio

The drawings range from images of the installation to impressions of what the work would look like. They are not artworks, but nor are they plain technical drawings. Much of the paper is yellowed and brittle (De Bruyckere used the backs of old pigeon-house lists from the Royal Belgian Association of Pigeon-Fanciers), and the drawings are in pencil, felt-tip, ink and watercolour. We also see that the artist communicated with care, among other things about the difference between working titles and definitive titles, and about the ideas behind the works. These notes are handwritten or typed. The photos are studies of the places in the museum where she would like to work, or else show prototypes, illustrations or sources of inspiration.


Mirjam Devriendt

Berlinde De Bruyckere, Onschuld kan een hel zijn, 1995 © studio Berlinde De Bruyckere – photo: Mirjam Devriendt


From 1995 to 2020

The archive portfolio provides the occasion to take a closer look at De Bruyckere’s work process in Focus Presentation #2. The material in the portfolio is shown amongst a broader selection of the images that fuel and document the artistic process – it is as if some had been taken direct from the walls of her studio. In a new film, the artist guides us through this series of references, and more specifically through the genesis and context of the two artworks that are being shown specially for this presentation at the Middelheim Museum.

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Onschuld kan een hel zijn

A stream of images as a frame of reference

See the images that surround and inspire Berlinde De Bruyckere.