!Watch Out: Monster ahead!
On the 21th of October a new edition of the annual exhibition ‘One Armed Man’ kicks off. This years’ theme: MONSTERS! You can enjoy various works of art made by 50 artists at the wonderful historic location Oude Beurs. One Armed Man is more than an ordinary exhibition: it is a meeting point for young and old, art lover and layman. Every weekend there are a lot of things to do, like workshops, (music) performances, lectures, a pop up shop and a cosy bar. I had a very pleasant, monstrous chat with Jens Dawn, one of the founders of the Antwerp-based One Armed Man and DOP platform vzw.
Love for ‘the Arts’
TIA: So, Jens. I’m curious: who are the faces behind ‘One Armed Man’ and ‘DOP platform vzw’? And how did it all start?
Jens: It’s a nice story in fact: 3 years ago, One Armed Man’s first exhibition was scheduled for only one weekend, but because of its success and the big support of our partners, the exposition grew instantly, even exponentially and lasted for a month! We felt the potential and the need for a platform like DOP vzw to design projects, like One Armed Man, that support the variety of arts. So, in fact DOP platform vzw arose out the first exhibition of One Armed Man.
Atmosphere and dynamics, as well as the personal engagement of the artists are central in our exhibits. We want to create a social, artistic event. We want our exhibitions to be a meeting point for the art-lover and even the laymen. We stimulate the democratization of art: everyone is welcome and entrance is free.
Sofie Jaspers, Ine Pieters and I are the three-headed brain behind One Armed Man. We’re all artists ourselves and we all have our specific function within the organisation: Sofie is a photographer and takes care of the production, Ine is a performance artist and I am a graphical designer, so obviously, I’m responsible for the communication.
TIA: A very inspiring story indeed! As artists you can thus share your experience with younger artists. One Armed Man comes to its third edition. Where do you see One Armed Man in 5, maybe 10 years?
Jens: A man can dream! Every year, we reverse the flaws from last year’s edition into something good or renewing. Every edition, we are improving, growing incrementally. Our goal is clear: to put young local talents next to established, successful artists and this on a world scale. Moreover, we want to entangle all creative disciplines in one exhibition: the fine arts, the performing arts and the applied arts. To achieve this, we want to work ‘with’ instead of ‘against’ the different cultural organisations.
Artists are hard workers. Periods with low income and few structural funding are daily fare. One Armed Man finds this humbug. If we want art to be a part of our cultural future, we need to support our favourite artist by buying a piece of art, which you can do at our exhibits. And we don’t subtract fees. One Armed Man and DOP platform vzw dream of future projects in which the creatives get the support they deserve and that this becomes self-evident.
Funnel animal, poetry book made of meat and a body scan
TIA: A very noble aim! It’s very endearing to see that there are still cultural organisations solicitous about the future of art and young creatives. Now, what can we expect from this year’s edition?
Jens: Every year, we present a multidimensional theme to the candidate-artists. ‘Pin up’ and ‘Year 2050’ have been put forward the first two editions. This year we work around the concept ‘monster’ in the wonderful location Oude Beurs. This historic, rather touristic building attracts spontaneously an international crowd and leads them to art.
The visitor of the exhibition gets an all-round experience: scary, humoristic, erotic, politically motivated. You see? ‘Monster’ is versatile! It has something to offer to both art lovers and rookies. You can admire a poetry book made of meat, an ominous angel, musical dioramas, a body scan, a funnel animal, Panamarenko-like masks, charcoal art and much more! You can also just visit the collection of curosities and bar.
TIA: And why monsters?
Jens: As said before, we always aim to select a theme that leaves plenty of scope. The word ‘monster’ is multidimensional. It can implement positive, negative and neutral emotions. For instance: Lore Van Roelen, one of the artists, thought of ‘monster’ as a sample or specimen and made a work of art with ‘objets trouvés’.
From 160 to 50, from 18 to 55
TIA: How do you select your 50 artists? Do you have a specific, recurrent procedure?
Jens: The selection process starts with an open call, to stimulate the approachability. This edition we received 160 applications from young, unique creatives from all over Flanders. We focus on local, promising talents, rather than international artists. We want to stimulate the international appearance of Flemish artists. Next, a jury selects 50 artworks. Age is the only thing indicated during the presentation, no names. After all, One Armed Man wants to offer especially young talents an opportunity to expose, and comprise all age categories. Daphne Okon (18), photographer, is the youngest participant this edition, while Jo Klaps (55), graphical designer, is the most mature.
Furthermore, all creative disciplines are presented: jewellery design, costume design, graphical design, pictorial art, fine arts, sculptures, performance arts, applied arts, music performances, photography, … you name it! Next, five candidates are selected from the ‘Studio Start’ competition to join our exposition.
TIA: I start to get the feeling that One Armed Man is way more than an ordinary exposition, isn’t it?
Jens: That’s true. We focus on the overall experience. Beside the exhibition, we offer workshops (even for kids), a collection of curiosities and bar, a magazine, a music night devoted to the upcoming Antwerp band The Girl Who Cried Wolf and ‘DOP Salon Deluxe’, where three artists frame their works in an intimate setting. And of course, we couldn’t ignore Halloween with this pat monster theme, so we organised a ‘trick or treat!’ event. Be there or be square!
TIA: I can’t wait!!!
More One Armed Man info
Opening & magazine launch: Wednesday 21 October 2015 – 7 p.m. ‘till 10 p.m.
Expo: 24 October ‘till 8 November every Saturday and Sunday – 11 a.m. ‘till 7 p.m.
Location: Oude Beurs, Hofstraat 15, 2000 Antwerp
Text by Lize Colson
Pics by Lize Colson, Sofie Jaspers & Zoe Kerkhof