hedwig houben

Extract of the lecture ‘Five Possible Lectures on Six Possibilities for a Sculpture’

“…I’d like to present you Five Possible Lectures On Six Possibilities For A Sculpture, which is a talk about a project that I‘ve been working on since 2009 in collaboration with Hedwig Houben. This project consists of a number of analyses on approaches and dilemmas surrounding my presence in the past, present and future. Who was I, who am I, and who shall I be? 
After a series of lectures Hedwig has given on my problematics, potentials and possibilities, I’d like to continue this research focusing on some specific excerpts from these past talks. By 
deconstructing myself and re-interpreting these situations, I hope to gain more insights on my appearances and to the demystification of myself, the unknown…”

“…Hedwig continued her talk explaining what my 4th variant looks like and also gives two suggestions for a 5th and 6th version that could be realized in the future…
Looking back on this talk I wonder to what extent Hedwig actually is aware of her presence while she is speaking? Does she see herself as a performer here? The same as I consider myself a “sculpture” although I’m aware I’m visually absent, the fact that I’m not physically present in the reading, only through a number of other sculptures. Or shall I say reproductions or copies or models or replicas because I’m convinced that it’s still me who is “the real sculpture” in case of this project. However I do feel confused to have seen the other objects taking centre stage instead of me and taking over my role as transmitter from artist to spectator… »

“…Her fingers gently and slowly slide over the grey and shiny object. She touches it with care. Softly she pushes one of her fingers into the mass. It’s soft and moist. She pushes again with a bit more pressure. One finger after another slowly pushes further and deeper into the material. They seem to disappear completely in the gray matter. It doesn’t hurt, but it’s gentle and pleasant. She squeezes it in her hands and feels how the object models itself around and between her fingers. This feels amazing. The longer and more she pushes the warmer it gets. It’s almost as if she squeezes me back into the material. As if she gives back my materiality and thereby lets me escape from my earlier appearances. I escape from my past; there is no theme, I’m back to zero…”

“…Sculpture: This constant transformation of context reminded me a bit of the film Zelig from Woody Allen in which a man named Zelig could transform his appearance to match his surroundings. He could be, thin, fat, writer, musician, doctor, Asian, European, whatever he was surrounded by. The connection between the character Zelig and me, the sculpture, was in a sense that we were both not fixed to one sort of appearance or idea, but it could be different each time, although this could have been seen as a lack of identity or vision… In case of Zelig these transformations where a result of a mental disorder. As a Sculpture, I was especially interested in altering/modifying/chance, the ability to adjust and improve an older version…”


My work is, or can be read as the critical reading and deconstruction of the work of Hedwig Houben, by Hedwig Houben. I play with concepts of good and bad, art and not art, the presence of the object and the absence of the object, the present and the past, black and white, artist and spectator. I try to place art in dialogue in a personal way using clichés, obsolete concepts, and overused meanings to question our relation to art, objects and life. I do this by creating stories (performances, films) – which have similarities to experiments in a laboratory – to define and grasp what the creative process is: How is it to make art? What is good, what is bad? What is unique?

I apply these apparent simple questions to the activities and objects I make, 
to unravel this process and to search for meaning, which can now and then lead to confusing and sometimes ridiculous dialogues and storytelling.

I handle a way of working in which questions lead to new images and new images directly to new questions. An example of my work is the lecture series: ‘Six Possibilities for a Sculpture’. This series consisted of a number of readings in which an analysis on the doubts and considerations – when creating a sculpture – is given. In the first reading, the questions and doubts about the object were very evident. The reading had a more illustrative character and was specially focused on the dilemmas surrounding the sculpture. Later in the series, these questions and doubts increasingly shifted, and have slowly given way to make statements about the capabilities and possibilities of the image. The versions of the lectures got more abstract and moved further away from its original questions. It’s like a travel into abstraction in which the sculpture becomes rather a representative of all questions, doubts and ideas that emerge during the process.

While I acknowledge the impossibility of understanding and interpreting the artistic process in its totality, the process itself is made tangible in the work itself.

Through all my work the role of explanation and illustration is very prominent and is increasingly carried to its extreme, not with the intention to elucidate the work but to be used as a strategy to let the spectator experience the process with me again. In fact the work describes itself.

The role the objects play in all these studies is neither as props nor artworks. I would rather consider them as potential artworks. They could become one but aren’t yet… This is mainly because in every attempt to reach a conclusion or solution, the process is provoked by a new question. The most ideal role for the object therefor would be to function – as I would like to call it – as a temporary statement. Creating a moment where I say: « This is it, this is true » although immediately after I could say « …but it’s probably not… » .


Hedwig Houben (°1983) studied at the Art Academy St. Joost, Breda (NL), Art Academy Düsseldorf (DE) and resently graduated from the Higher Institute for Fine Arts, Ghent (BE).
Houben’s work was included in the exhibition Making is Thinking, Witte de With, Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam (NL) (2011). Recent performances include Kunstraum Niederösterreich, Vienna (AT); Casino-Luxembourg, Luxembourg (LU); CentrePasquArt, Bienne (CH); La Salle de Bains, Lyon (FR); Playground festival, STUK, Leuven (BE); La Compilotheque, Brussels (BE); Performatik festival, Beursschouwburg, Brussels (BE); Theater Aan Zee, Oostende (BE), theater/performance festival; It’s Not A Contest, OPEN, Düsseldorf (DE); Who Stole the Tarts? TENT, Rotterdam; Overzicht Tentoonstelling, project together with Galerie Gallery at Kunstvlaai, Amsterdam (2010/2011).
Solo shows include Personal Matters and Matters Of Fact, Playstation Fons Welters Gallery, Amsterdam (NL); Five Possible Lectures On Six Possibilities For A Sculpture, P/////AKT, Amsterdam (NL). Group shows include Found in Translation, Casino-Luxembourg, Luxembourg (LU); Manufacture 2, John Hansard Gallery, Southampton (EN); OOO, Daine Singer Gallery, Melbourne (AU); The Shape Of Forms To Come, Kuttner Siebert Galerie, Berlin; Manufacture, Parc Saint Léger – Centre d’art contemporain, Pougues Les Eaux; Sober & Lonely Institute For Contemporary Art, Johannesburg; Cross Roads, KIT, Düsseldorf; Gasthoven, Aarschot; 100 x 100, Zwervende Tentoonstelling #15, Rotterdam; Déjà vu, Fabriek, Eindhoven; Pleasure Ground, Lokaal 01, Breda (2010/2011).

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