Hugo Roelandt Research Project

The Belgian artist Hugo Roelandt (born in Aalst, 1950–died in Antwerp, 2015) was one of the pioneering figures of performance art in Belgium in the 1970s and 1980s. A real ‘artist’s artist’, he advocated an art beyond the art market and geared towards society. Combining insights from photography and performance art, he evolved towards a personal crossover of performance and installation art for which he coined the label ‘post-performance’. Charismatic and energetic, he cooperated with numerous artists over the course of his career.

Hugo Roelandt generously bequeathed part of his estate to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp, where he was a teacher in the photography department. In consultation with Lydia Van Loock, his partner, the Academy has decided that the artists’ archive should stay together as a platform for research about the artist and performance art in Belgium.

The M HKA is the beneficiary of Van Loock’s and the Academy’s generosity, and will invest its resources into preserving the archive, making it accessible to artists, students and researchers, and the public via its Ensembles web platform. The Academy will continue to play an important role in conducting and facilitating research on the Hugo Roelandt Archive, partnering with M HKA to ensure that it remain in the public domain, in the spirit of the artist.

Equally in the spirit of the artist, a broad coalition of organisations will form a community to enhance the understanding and public visibility of Roelandt’s work, which has a contemporary international urgency – all the more given the renewed recent interest in performance art and its histories. Objectif Exhibitions, Antwerp, under the directorship of Antony Hudek, took the first step by inviting the journalist and critic Marc Holthof to curate two exhibitions in 2016 devoted to Roelandt’s oeuvre.

Coinciding with the exhibitions, the first monograph devoted to Hugo Roelandt, edited by Marc Holthof, will be published by Occasional Papers. The book will be released on Wednesday 13 April. On the occasion of this exhibitions M HKA launches this website dedicated to Hugo Roelandt and the research that will take place in the coming years in collaboration with the various partners.

The following activities are planned as part of the Hugo Roelandt Research Project:

  • Objectif Exhibitions is hosting two exhibitions on Hugo Roelandt, curated by Marc Holthof (16.04–04.06 / 16.06–30.07).
  • Netwerk, Aalst is hosting an exhibition on Hugo Roelandt, curated by Roger D’Hondt (23.04–18.06).
  • The Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp and Objectif Exhibitions are collaborating on a Study Day around Roelandt’s work, scheduled for October 2016.
  • M HKA is hosting two sequential small archival exhibitions devoted to the Antwerp alternative space Montevideo, which Hugo Roelandt co-founded in 1981 (the first 16.06–10.7; the second 14.07–07.08).
  • The Middelheim Museum will re-stage a 1983 performance by Roelandt, as part of an exhibition in collaboration with the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp.
  • Argos, Brussels, will include digital copies of Roelandt’s film in its collection, and manage its distribution.