57th Venice Biennale

Dirk Braeckman in the Belgian pavilion at the

Venice Biennale

13.05.2017 - 26.11.2017
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The black-and-white photographs of Dirk Braeckman convey a sense of stillness. For all their monumentality, they show anonymous places and stories. Braeckman, together with M curator Eva Wittocx, is representing Belgium in 2017 at the 57th Venice Biennale. His new work will then be shown at M and Bozar. A moment to remember for Belgian photography and a milestone in the artist’s career.

New work at the Biennale

The Belgian Pavilion is presenting a series of monumental photographic prints on baryta paper. The unique, analogue prints are made using negatives from Braeckman’s archive, with the artist sometimes creating multiple images from the same source. The exhibition focuses on new work in grey tones, produced in Braeckman’s darkroom.

Dirk's new images seem familiar, but they also introduce new directions in his oeuvre. The exhibition at the Belgian pavilion will be a challenging balancing act between creating an autonomous and strong exhibition, and introducing his work to new audiences. Eva Wittocx, Curator Belgian pavilion

Stillness against today's influx of images and information

Dirk Braeckman’s work brings stillness to today’s influx of images and information. Working with analogue photography, towards the end of the 1980s, he found a visual language that reflects on the act of viewing and the status of the image. The artist explores the boundaries of his medium and challenges photographic conventions by rephotographing existing photographs or adding dust, hair and other elements. The camera’s flash reflects off the surface of the subject, the texture of walls, curtains, carpets and posters.

Braeckman’s images depict anonymous subjects from his immediate surroundings. Stripped of anecdote, the stories they suggest are entirely open. The artist shows empty rooms in which time appears to stand still, elements of interchangeable interiors or human figures that stand only for presence – all separate from any specific identity, place, time or emotion. Intimacy and distance combine in Braeckman’s photographic images to make a private, secluded world whose meaning remains undefined.

My recent work will be a response to the multitude and speed of images today. Slowness and resistance are core to both the creation process as well as the images themselves. It’s not about photographs that can be duplicated or recognized at a glance. It’s about powerful images that don’t reveal everything and allow their meaning to be shaped in dialogue with the viewer. Dirk Braeckman

Experimentation in the darkroom

Dirk Braeckman essentially creates his images in the darkroom. Experimentation is crucial for both their registration by the camera and their subsequent processing. The exposure, manipulation and development of the negative and photographic paper consistently result in new and unrepeatable images. Grain, spots, cropping and flattening of perspective resist an immediate reading or interpretation of his work. Over- and underexposure as well as working in grey tones heighten the iconic character of his images.

Dirk Braeckman

Dirk Braeckman


Dirk Braeckman


Dirk Braeckman (1958) has spent the past 25 years developing a gradual and impressive portfolio. Working with the medium of photography, he occupies a highly particular place and position within the visual arts. He has taken part in numerous exhibition both nationally and internationally, such as recent solo shows at LE BAL (Paris), De Pont (Tilburg), De Appel (Amsterdam), S.M.A.K. (Ghent) and ROSEGALLERY (Santa Monica, CA). In Belgium, his work has recently been featured at BOZAR in Brussels (2013), at M - Museum Leuven (2011) and at Zeno X Gallery in Antwerp (2015). Braeckman’s works are part of important private and public collections around the world, including in FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais (Dunkirk), Sammlung Goetz (Munich), De Pont (Tilburg) and Fondation Nationale d’Art Contemporain (Paris), Central Museum (Utrecht), and Musée d’Art Contemporain et Moderne (Strasbourg). There are also several publications on his artistic practice and oeuvre.