Billboard Series #02:
Dirk Zoete

Quatro Grãos
31/01 — 30/04/2016

The artistic practice of Dirk Zoete (°1969 Roeselare) is circular. He makes models, photographs, drawings, sculptures and installations, all resulting from and influencing each other. A model set sometimes becomes a drawing, which might result in a large sculpture, which in its turn can function as an element in a larger installation or a prop in a new photographic series.

A term he often uses himself for this practice is Brincadeira, the Portuguese word for ‘play’. Dirk explains: “ It’s a term I picked up from a Brazilian who helped me out around my studio. I initially thought the term referred to ‘do it yourself’, comparable to the Dutch term ‘bricoleren’. I was wrong, but immediately felt attracted to the tension between the do-it-yourself aspect and the idea of play. I now use it as an umbrella term for my practice: all models, decors and theatre scenes I use for my photographic series, the drawings I make, which are either based on or literally drawn on the printed photographs, the sculptures that come out of this process; etc.”. The image Dirk Zoete constructed for our second commission of Billboard Series is a perfect example of this practice.

Quatro Grãos is a drawing made on a studio photograph of a theatrical model. The artist blackened four bread buns in an open fire and used pins to give them facial features. He started setting up various small scenes in his studio with these heads, a paper coffee cup and a miniature table. He documented these different scenes, and started drawing on some of the photographs.

Dirk Zoete doesn’t differentiate between the photographs he makes of these models, the drawing he makes on these photographs and the drawing on paper that originate from these photographs. “They are all drawings,” he says, “ for me, a photograph is as much a drawing as a lead pencil drawing on paper. They are a way of understanding the world.”

Dirk Zoete’s practice, though theatrical, has little to do with theatre. He rather investigates how a situation can come into being, how his studio can function as a pedestal for new situations. The driving force behind his work is wonder. By creating images, sculptures and model settings of things he never saw before, by adding something new to the world, Zoete gets the momentary pleasure of wonderment.

At the same, his practice is an exercise in relating to the world; Zoete explains how at first his models were an research into scale. How all the objects – tables and beds for example – he used in his models were based on things he saw in his daily life. He would measure them, scale them down and insert them in new setting.

Lately, his interest is shifting more towards the transformation of the materiality of objects, and this shows in the work he is currently making.  He experiments, transforming masks from cardboard to veneer, or casting them in aluminium. But the core of his practice stays the same: these wooden or aluminium masks also remain building blocks in his ever-expanding personal archive, showing up in drawings, which in turn could be used as design sketches for new sculptures.  Every work he makes is a starting point to a new object waiting to come into this world.





All images courtesy of the artist
Installation photography: Michiel De Cleene

Billboard Series is a long-term art project in public space, for which every three months an artist is invited to create a new, site-specific work for a 50 m2 billboard on Dok Noord, Ghent. Through changing presentations, Billboard Series wants to build a sustainable and productive dialogue with the surrounding neighbourhood and urban landscape, reflect on the changes that this neighbourhood is currently undergoing, and introduce a broad audience to different visual languages and ways of looking at the world.

Billboard Series is a project of artlead, together with 019. Billboard Series is curated by Thomas Caron, takes place within a scenography by architect Olivier Goethals, and is being developed with the support of the City of Ghent and the Flemish Community.

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