Critics’ Picks

Freek Wambacq, Opening door, closing door (in the desert), 2013, door handles, wood, dimensions variable. Installation view.


Freek Wambacq

Objectif Exhibitions
Kleine Markt 7–9/26
September 14–October 26

Freek Wambacq’s “Rain after snow” is a multisite solo show that begins at Objectif Exhibitions and maps a trail of unlikely objects—such as celery, an electric toothbrush, and a box of halved coconut shells—through fourteen various (and equally unlikely) locations in Antwerp: a fitness center, a butcher’s shop, a hearing aid center, and so on. Each displayed item is used for sound effects in Foley cinema: halved coconuts for a horse’s gait, for instance. The objects, however, remain silent, with their sounds only implied through the title of the works. See, for example, Sheet lightning and rumbling thunder (all works 2013), which is installed at a tailor's shop and evokes thunder through a sheet of stainless steel hanging on the wall next to a mirror. It is motionless, yet charged with the possibility of thunder.

Wambacq’s poetic and sometimes riddle-like titles, as well as the lists of materials for his works, are key in finding the pieces on a map, which is offset printed on newspaper and available to visitors at Objectif. Upon visiting Antwerp’s botanical gardens, one may be at a loss to locate a work whose materials are listed simply as “door handles,” until the viewer notices that the title Opening door, closing door (in the desert) is a hint to find two beautiful brass door handles—each affixed to a wooden display and supported by a wooden base—in a large glass house containing desert-themed wall paintings and succulents.

Wambacq is interested in how Foley artists choose their objects for sonic rather than aesthetic reasons, and he places such items into a visual context, yet outside of a wholly visual arts context. A large part of the pleasure here is in the hunt, the places Wambacq takes us. But the play between language, the formal qualities of the works, and, importantly, the constant tension of possible actualization is what makes “Rain after snow” truly unique.