Lithuanian Space Agency

founded by Julijonas Urbonas and curated by Jan Boelen for La Biennale Architettura 2021. The website is designed by Studio Pointer.

Preview of the website

The Lithuanian Space Agency (LSA) is an organisation that researches space architecture and gravitational aesthetics. The agency takes the radical and unique experiences of space to redefine who we are and what we can know and imagine.

The LSA focuses on exploring what the roles of architecture, design and art can be in the new space age, both globally and in the context of Lithuania. Bringing together a wide range of disciplines, the agency mobilises space research to address urgent questions about society, politics, the environment and culture in an era of rapid change.

4th Istanbul Design Biennial

Jan Boelen is curator of the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial (22 September–4 November 2018) in Istanbul, Turkey.

The Istanbul Design Biennial, founded in 2012, brings together a diverse cross-section of design ideas, and explores a wide range of fields concerning design. Seeding ideas and fostering dialogue and intersections within the creative and academic community, the biennial operates on a network of national and international collaborations with cultural agents, institutions, universities and companies. Using the city as a dynamic space for projects, actions and interventions the biennial tackles global design problems by discussing the notion of design, stimulating critical debate, foregrounding underexplored or overlooked aspects of society and prompting further investigation into and exchange about emerging conditions of our world. Committed to design as a tool for understanding the complex role of design in today’s society the biennial as a progressive discussion platform is in permanent transformation.

Entitled A School of Schools, the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial will stretch both the space and time of the traditional design event, manifesting as a flexible year-long programme within which to respond to global acceleration, generating alternative methodologies, outputs and forms of design and education. A School of Schools manifests as a set of dynamic learning formats encouraging creative production, sustainable collaboration, and social connection. Exploring eight themes, the learning environment is a context of empowerment, reflection, sharing and engagement, providing reflexive responses to specific situations.

Engaging multigenerational, transdisciplinary practitioners from Turkey and abroad, A School of Schools brings together old and new knowledge, academic and amateur, professional and personal, focusing on the process as much as the outcomes. Together, agents in this complex and ambitious ecosystem will create new knowledge, search for alternatives to implemented systems, and with radical diversity, push the boundaries of the design discipline.

The 4th Istanbul Design Biennial Advisory Board Members are ‎Director of Research and Programs at SALT, Meriç Öner; Partner at Superpool International Multidisciplinary Design Studio and Director of Studio-X Istanbul, Selva Gürdoğan; Director of the Dresden Museum of Decorative Arts, Tulga Beyerle; writer, Chief curator at the Design Museum and Co-head of Design Curating & Writing at Design Academy Eindhoven, Justin McGuirk; architect, curator and editor at e-flux Architecture, Nikolaus Hirsch.

The conceptual framework of the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial, organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts, will be announced in the autumn 2017.

Istanbul Design Biennial

Design Became a Ghost in the Cloud

Published in Notes on Ghosts, Disputes, and Killer Bodies, the #TVclerici reader and part of the DAE Milan 2017 exhibition, curated by Jan Boelen.

By Jan Boelen

Rather than an activity with a clear outcome, design has also become a medium itself, a system of signs. From economic flows and legal infrastructures to interfaces, virtual addresses and augmented realities, we are dealing with another type of world that generates economic value from information, fictional, false, or real. What Franco Berardi coined as Semiocapitalism to refer to the production of semiotic goods, the re-design of processes of relation rather than material ones, Benjamin Bratton has approached from the perspective of what he calls “the Stack”; the stacks of information technology designed to blur geographic, economic, and political layers. In the face of these evolutions, how is our consciousness, cognition, and body affected?

It seems algorithms on the loose govern us. We are the voluntary captives of the cloud.[1] Design has become a ghost up in the air. In this system of invisible processes, our bodies also count as information. Filter bubbles are introduced to manage and predict our behaviour. Captcha software turns people into sophisticated sensory constituents; biometric capture technologies manage our identities. Siri and other virtual assistants trick us into falling in love with “them”; while bots and trolls influence how we think and act. We are battling an army of anonymous digital foot soldiers; yet within this space in which our risk probabilities are calculated, our options tested and our outcomes pre-designed, there’s a space of real possibility and responsibility. If we no longer exist as mere “users” but as “constituents”, perhaps we can take our new role more actively and creatively as part of a complex ecology of linkages between different actors.

All these different actors (from interfaces to algorithms and from objects to media) have different dispositions – a tendency, activity, faculty or property – that have a specific relationship to one another other. By hacking or navigating these dispositions it is possible to shift or restructure our realm of possibility. In Extrastate Craft: The Power of Infrastructure Space, architect theorist Keller Easterling replaces Marshall McLuhan’s famous dictum “The Medium is the Message” by “The Action is the Form”. For Easterling the organisational formats are not what surrounds the design; they are the design. Easterling employs the term “disposition” to refer to “active forms” which produce actions that lend an organisation some other undisclosed agency or capacity. It’s not about the pebble dropped in the water, but the ripples it produces.

From this perspective, it’s necessary to redefine design as an “active form” or critical tool that helps us navigate a netted world mediated by intangible and invisible processes. Better than to hold on to design entangled in a modern, material culture (the pebble), let’s start to also imagine design as a practice that maps, intervenes and challenges existing processes and repurposes them towards other (more exciting) ends (the ripples). In an essay on speculative design, Bratton notes, perhaps “the job of Design in the 21st century is to undo (much of) the Design of the 20th”.[2] Not only is it necessary to undo what exists, but also to design and reconfigure the normative relationships between things such as contracts, protocols, mediation, communication flows, and social or digital encounters. Design has the powerful faculty to create new meaning. Simulation, resistance, reappropriation and negotiation are only a few of the strategies designers with a critical attitude can apply to produce other narratives, what one might call a form of critical imagineering.

We can find a mode of resistance in the work of Swiss graphic designer and researcher Simone C. Niquille. Commenting on global standards of identification, such as facial recognition, her work proposes how we can protect our identities from being exploited or even misread. Proxy Body (2016) scans human skins and bodies to then print the scans on fabric to create wearable objects that lend us other identities. In Facebay Skinz (2015) faces taken from a face database are featured on adhesive smartphone covers. The protective adhesive recreates and distorts the face of the person owning the phone. The artist Zach Blas goes one step further in his thinking about protection from pervasive surveillance by undermining the bias of the normative gaze and its insidious return to “the ableist, classist, homophobic, racist, sexist and transphobic scientific endeavours of the 19th century”.[3]

A critical comment is also apparent in the installations of the designer Henrique Nascimento, who observes how labour is disappearing through the rise of robotics and AI. With his project Guidelines for the Human Factor, Nascimento developed an algorithm-based workspace where the robot plays the role of a moderator, while humans discuss a relevant topic connected to a real world situation. According to a set of rules and based on voice recognition, the algorithms participate in the dialogue by offering references that influence the dialogue between the humans. In a way, the project comments on the role of bots and trolls that participate in online debates, influencing public opinion. As artists Bik Van der Pol suggest in The Search Drive: A Hackography Begins, a plea for cognitive activism, “we are witnessing a shift from a form of data searching and surveillance in which real fingers and thumbs of real hands connected to the real bodies revealing themselves by making tapping sounds on keyboards, are being substituted by a disembodied algorithmically generated system of total silence.”[4] But Nascimento’s project also proposes a model in which humans take on an active role, in full awareness of the invisible process that backs them up. The outcome of the conversation produces a ‘conversation piece’ emerging as a hologram: a co-production between human and machine.

Even if designers today are often still preoccupied with the material, it seems that the seeds of new forms of design are present in the work of many students graduating at the Design Academy Eindhoven. By materialising what designers want to address and hope to change, we are presented with an understanding of what’s at play – a tangible visualisation of a ‘light’ and ‘liquid’, software-based modernity as Zygmunt Bauman describes in his book Liquid Modernity. Design needs to appropriate these disruptive fluid mechanisms; or ripples.The future is where a product becomes a process, a narrative a performance; creating an unpredictable reality of a cloud, a ghost like an amazon that knows what you might like. Ratherthan being governed by these ghosts like puppets in a spectacle, we need to become the active actors on the stage.

Design Academy Eindhoven’s exhibition #TVclerici took place at Atelier Clerici in Milan, Italy, during Milan Design Week in April 2017.

[1] Metahaven. “We Are Captives of the Cloud, Part 1.” E-flux. (accessed 7 March 2017)
[2] Bratton, Benjamin.”On Speculative Design.” Dis Magazine. (accessed 7 March 2017)
[3] Blas, Zach. “Informatic Opacity”. In: Journal of Aesthetics and Protest, 2014, issue 9
[4] Bik Van der Pol, “A Desktop of a Computer Screen”, in: The Search Drive: A Hackography Begins. Zero-Desk, 2015, p. 10

Konstantin Grcic – Panorama

Exhibition ‘Konstantin Grcic – Panorama’ (Vitra Design Museum 22 March–14 September 2014, Z33 House for Contemporary Art 1 February–14 May 2015) was developed over three years in close collaboration between designer Konstantin Grcic, Vitra Design Museum and Z33 House for Contemporary Art.

‘Konstantin Grcic – Panorama’ is the largest solo exhibition of one of the most influential designers of our time. ‘Panorama’ is not a mere retrospective exhibition, but rather a personal statement by Konstantin Grcic on the future.

Developing ‘Panorama’ becomes a part of ongoing research at Z33 House for Contemporary Art / Z33 Research on the role of exhibition format and exhibition design as motors for experience-based thinking, using the exhibition not as a medium but as a toolbox. For years, Z33 House for Contemporary Art has explored different formats and curatorial approaches in which the exhibition becomes a performative, participatory or narrative experience that is activated through interaction with the public.

Read more
Jan Boelen: Invading Spaces.

Contribution for the catalogue of ‘Konstantin Grcic – Panorama.’ © Vitra Design Museum and the authors, 2014.

Konstantin Grcic
Vitra Design Museum: Konstantin Grcic – Panorama
Z33 Research: Konstantin Grcic – Panorama


BIO 50 – 24th Biennial of Design Ljubljana

Curated by Jan Boelen, BIO 50 – 24th Biennial of Design Ljubljana, Slovenia (18 September–7 December 2014) is a transformative effort that seeks to strengthen local and international design networks.

BIO 50 – 24th Biennial of Design Ljubljana, Slovenia, was transformed from a traditional exhibition of industrial design products into a testing ground for how design can function as a tool for understanding everyday life. The biennial also became a reflection on future design practices and the increasing complexity of the contexts of the design profession.

Over 600 designers, artists and other creatives responded to an international call under the theme ‘Designing Everyday Life’. Out of the applicants, 120 were chosen to participate in projects and workshops and to work with mentors such as Dutch designers Aldo Bakker and Rianne Makkink, Slovenian architect and urbanist Marko Peterlin, and German designer and artist Judith Seng. The groups were given loose everyday topics to work on: water, food, affordable living or tourism, and then were left to work on the topics for six months.

The exhibited projects presented a variety of new approaches and aspects of challenges of everyday life, but the biggest value of the projects lies in the learning processes and the continuation of collaborations.

BIO – Biennial of Design Ljubljana


Designing Scarcity – Design and Innovation in Times of Scarcity

Exhibition ‘Designing Scarcity – Design and Innovation in Times of Scarcity’ (28 June–30 August 2014), curated by Jan Boelen, showcases strategies used by designers and users to find novel solutions in the face of limitation.

Urban planning projects, buildings, interior objects and consumer goods in ‘Designing Scarcity – Design and Innovation in Times of Scarcity’ exhibition show that shortages don’t have to constrain creativity: quite the contrary.

Alongside contemporary work by designers such as Atelier Van Lieshout and Formafantasma, the exhibition at The New Institute in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, features historical designs by the likes of architects Gerrit Rietveld, J.J.P. Oud, and Van den Broek en Bakema. Master’s students from the Design Academy Eindhoven have contributed contemporary proposals that respond to the idea of scarcity, taking inspiration from objects in Het Nieuwe Instituut’s archive.

The New Institute: Designing Scarcity





Pit – Art in Public Space

In addition to in-house exhibitions, Z33 House for Contemporary Art has initiated art projects in public space in various locations in the Belgian Limburg region.

Established in 2011, Z33 House for Contemporary Art’s public art program ‘Pit – Art in Public Space’ engages art in a dialogue with its environment, and reveals stories that are not always immediately visible.

The artworks in the landscape challenge visitors and passers-by see the surrounding environment from a different perspective. Some of the artworks are permanent, some for a shorter period of time, and can be visited in the Borgloon-Heers region the best by a car, bicycle or by foot. The program also includes workshops, public events and other activities.

Z33 House for Contemporary Art: pit – Art in Public Space


Gijs Van Vaerenbergh: Reading Between the Lines (2011-permanent)
Architect duo Gijs Van Vaerenbergh’s (B) see-through church ‘Reading Between the Lines’ in Borgloon is a 10-metre-high structure that weighs 30 tons. It is made of 100 stacked layers of steel plates in the shape of a church of Loon. The structure enables seeing the surrounding landscape through the church both from far away and up close; the church is both present and absent in the landscape.

Fred Eerdekens: Twijfelgrens (2011-permanent)
Wooden-like sculpture by Fred Eerdekens (B) appears as a folded line in the landscape; from the right angle, the line forms a word ‘twijfelgrens,’ a ‘doubt border.’ The work continues Eerdekens’ use of language as a medium.

Tadashi Kawamata: Project Burchtheuvel (2011–2017)
Tadashi Kawamata’s (JP) wooden sculptures in the open space can be labeled social constructions, as he lets the local community help build the sculptures. In Borgloon, Kawamata built a wooden sculpture around and on top of Burchtheuvel, a historically significant place. He worked with twenty visual arts, architecture and interior design students, who researched how Burchtheuvel could again play a full-fledged role in the city centre.

Dré Wapenaar: Tranendreef (2011-permanent)
Tear-shaped sculptures by Dré Wapenaar (NL) are hanging from the trees and provide an alternative form of accommodation in Haspengouw. Situated on the border of architecture and sculpture, Wapenaar’s sculptures are often temporarily placed tent structures. Social interaction around the work is of great importance for the artist.

Ardie Van Bommel: Pure Nature (2011-permanent)
Ardie van Bommel (NL) brings a sitting, washing, toilet and barbecue unit to Tradentdreef, at the tree tents by Dré Wapenaar. The units are based on the palettes of fruit chests often seen in the Haspengouw landscape.

Paul Devens: Proximity Effect (2012-permanent)
‘Proximity Effect’ by sound artist Paul Devens (NL) is located at the Servatius church in Groot-Loon. Through speakers and sensors, the site-specific sound installation in the 12th-century church plays a game of tones, sounds of outside recordings, acoustics, echo and space.

Wesley Meuris: Memento (2012–permanent)
‘Memento,’ a sculpture by Wesley Meuris (B) at the Central Burial of Borgloon, is an anchor point in the sloping landscape. The architectural structure of the work provides an experience of looking and dwelling. The experience of intimacy reflects the memory of the sculpture’s surroundings. The sculpture is initiated by De Nieuwe Opdrachtgevers.

Aeneas Wilder: Untitled #158 (2012–permanent)
Aeneas Wilder (UK) builds an architectural structure in the landscape near the Monastery of Colen in Kerniel. The round construction with a magnificent 360-degrees view is aligned with uniform vertical wooden slats.  According to the artist, the work functions as a lens where the visitor can focus his thoughts and emotions with the landscape of Kerniel as a background.




In Good Hands

The interview is a part of an article ‘In Good Hands’ by Sven Ehmann for DAMn°39, published on 6 July 2013.

The role of design curator is slightly more recent than that of art curator, but it too suffers from opportunism by those who think that making an exhibition of objects is facile, disconnected, or fleeting. A curator worth his/her salt is someone who devotedly does the research and sets out to present seminal works that affect people’s lives; someone who considers the content and the larger context within the evolution of our time, and desires to introduce important or challenging developments to the general public, the very audience that is design’s best and most effective critic. DAMn° prods seven proper curators for their views.

DAMn° What makes an exceptional curator?

JB To be a curator today means operating in more than one field, often transgressing the division between curation and creation itself: it means writing, teaching, researching, commissioning works, participating in their execution, and so on. In effect, the curator has become a partner-in-crime in the design process itself. The contemporary curator may not have trained in “curation” itself or even in obvious fields such as art or design history, but rather in architecture or design “proper”. In short, the curatorial process is becoming another medium of expression in the vein of design or art.

Even more, curation itself is becoming a design process, with a crucial need to shape and create the form of an exhibition relative to its content. The subjects that we try to explore, the relationship of societal developments with intersecting and inter-melting spheres of art and design, cannot be presented through an objective, neatly catalogued museum filter. The contemporary curator knows that such clear answers are impossible. The challenge is to bring these subjects into material and spatial form that creates a powerful sensorial experience, one that opens itself to many related themes and that uses strong emotional, intellectual, and bodily impressions to render a powerful form of ambiguity.

DAMn° What is the context you are working in as a curator? You are in the special situation of working towards the restructuring of your institution. Could you describe the dynamics and challenges of the project with regards to the curatorial work or positioning?

JB At the moment, we are looking into the particular question of archiving and the timeline of curatorial practices. I have always found it a pity that many of the most interesting reactions and discoveries related to a particular exhibition happen after it has closed, meaning that opportunities for further collaboration are often limited. As a result, we are trying to move beyond the strict phases of separate exhibitions into a more research-oriented structure. We are putting together a series of research centres – including Studio Future, Studio Limburg, and Studio Meta – to build a platform for connecting with different partners and intersecting between themes in the longer term. Our programme has always been much bigger than just the exhibitions, with temporary projects in public space, installations, debates, performances, and education, but this initiative would take us even further.

DAMn° How would you describe your particular approach to curating? Is there a particular field you are specialized in? Which field? How do you find, decide for, or develop a topic? What are the main steps in the process of your work?

JB First, it is important to say that Z33 is not a museum with a permanent collection, so we can take a fresh start with every project. We observe what is going on around us in a larger context of people, culture, science, politics, economy, and so on, and try to trace an underlying network of changes and evolutions, and then react to that in real-time. Maybe our work could even have an effect on the developments we see, in turn. We are not very concerned with fitting into the normative conversations going on in the design world, nor with interpreting critical theory. I am much more interested in how contemporary culture forces critical theory to evolve.

Personally, I give a general starting point for an exhibition, but it is used to stir up debate rather than give a fixed boundary to the theme. We strive to maintain a sense of ambivalence or doubt, a tension between order and chaos, throughout the entire process, largely by giving space to many different voices without trying to harmonise them too much. It is also necessary to work in long time-frames on these projects, because sometimes the bridges between isolated occurrences or ideas need to evolve.

DAMn° How did you get into curating in the first place? What influenced, impressed or taught you the most – institution, person, show, text, something else?

JB In a way, it just happened with no predetermined direction. I studied design and graduated with two projects, one very “artistic” and one very industrial. Curation and art or design history were never my primary fields of interest; in fact, I was thinking more about the philosophy of science, chaos theory, quantum mechanics – in general, more philosophy than design or art themselves.

Still, I was very influenced by art and certain exhibitions when I was young. Most of the teachers who had an impact on me were artists. In particular, I recall one exhibition at Antwerp’s Royal Museum of Fine Arts in 1993, called The Sublime Void: On the Memory of the Imagination, with works by Jeff Wall, Gerhard Richter, Cristina Iglesias, and Arte Povera works.

DAMn° What was your most challenging project so far and why? Please describe it a little in terms of the curatorial work.

JB The most challenging project is the one that we are currently preparing, a project on scarcity. The issue is now so omnipresent that it has become a very big trend, with very political consequences. At the same time, we have to present it in a way that creates a very engaging experience; we have to make people rethink the subject and re-evaluate their position when they encounter the works.

DAMn° Whom are you working with? What is your team like?

JB At Z33, we have a very strong team of people involved in the development and design of our projects and exhibitions. I am also fortunate to have an academic position, so I am constantly confronted by my students, as well as by my colleagues at the Design Academy Eindhoven, including Thomas Lommée, Aldo Bakker, Liesbeth Huybrechts, Louise Schouwenberg, and many more. I collaborate very intensely with former students like Tal Erez, a designer, and Tamar Shafrir, a writer. I also have a wider circle of people with whom I have very fruitful and reflective conversations about the themes we are observing, people like Franziska Nori from the Centre for Contemporary Culture Strozzina.

DAMn° How would you describe the work relationship between yourself as the curator and designers, architects, artists? What is your impact on them? How do they impact your work?

JB My working relationships with the many designers, architects, and artists connected to Z33 are in constant flux. There is no strict division between my responsibilities and those of others; these decisions are always made in a responsive way to the content. For example, take someone like Aldo Bakker – he is a designer whose work has appeared in exhibitions, but he is also now part of the team to redesign the building, and he teaches with me in the social design master’s programme at the Design Academy Eindhoven. Other artists or designers who exhibit at Z33 can almost be like mini-curators. On the other hand, we cannot merely be “curators” that pick objects to exemplify a certain theme. The issues we approach at Z33 are not usually supported by current market structures. Therefore, we have to be more active in the creation of projects related to our chosen subjects, commissioning work and creating partnerships between different people: even if we do not know what the outcome will be, this is part of the underlying strategy.

All of these different practitioners challenge me; they change the visions I formed throughout the encounters I have had and absorbed. Someone can create an entirely new provocation, and from that moment I start to reflect, use it as a mirror, develop my own reactions and instincts. One of my students, Pablo Calderón Salazar, calls himself a “dialogue designer”: I think this is a very good description, and something to which I also aspire. True dialogue means coming to different insights and going further than a linear relationship or conclusion.

DAMn° In your particular field, what is currently the biggest challenge in terms of content and audience? What kind of development have you experienced on the side of the audience and the general media over the recent years regarding your work?

JB The greatest challenge is to identify and understand themes that are really contemporary, that reflect and explain what is happening in society. In the midst of our own time, it can be difficult to find a vantage point from which everything seems connected; and even if we do achieve that viewpoint, it can be even more difficult to communicate that idea to a large public audience. It is very difficult to achieve the right balance between the power of an imaginative vision and the doubt that emerges from complexity.

At the beginning, our work did not have much resonance with what was going on in the media, especially the design media of the early 2000s. The design magazines were quite top-down and fixed-format, and they were more product- or object-oriented; on the contrary, we have always been rather process-oriented, avoiding a snapshot definition. In the end, we did not really try to change our relationship with the media, but the media itself changed, expanding into online platforms, blogs, and multimedia content; furthermore, there was a shift in its focus after the financial crisis in 2008. They began to think about what role design might play in society, in a much bigger way. Because of that evolution, we have a much more fruitful relationship with media now. We even have done projects with magazines like Abitare to think about different issues, such as education, with articles and debates, generating content in a different way than through exhibitions.

DAMn° How does your work as a curator relate to the commercial side of – or interest – in your field? To what extent are you setting the agenda? To what extent are you as a curator “making stars”?

JB My primary concern is investing in ideas and subjects; of course, they are nearly always fulfilled and embodied by individuals with strong concepts, stories, languages, or tactics. It is true that we push people, in the sense that we begin to collaborate with them from the moment we begin upon an idea. We discuss with them how to produce, execute, fund, and communicate their projects, so we are involved with them in a trajectory that can last years. Sometimes I try to lead them to commercial work or introduce them to our network so that they can survive. Not everyone can survive on their ideas, and we are quite explicitly interested in ideas that aren’t profitable or market-friendly. These concerns have to do with supporting our relationships; they are not at all aimed at generating commercial power for the gallery. Regardless, I doubt that the people we work with want to become “stars” in that sense – that is quite obvious from the work they do, much of which has to do with open-source platforms, open methods of production, performances, etc. Z33 also puts almost all of its images, texts, and other content online with a Creative Commons license. For us, interest and engagement is much more valuable than money.

Of course, we are lucky to work in a context in Belgium and the Netherlands, where historically financial support for creative production has been seen as a public responsibility. This frees us from thinking too much about the commercial side. If that changes in the context of financial crisis, we need to rethink our methods, not change our ideas.

DAMn° Do you see yourself in a curatorial tradition? How important is the theoretical or academic part of your work to you? How are you following or contributing to the academic discourse around curating?

JB The curatorial tradition has been predominantly established by the art world. Meanwhile, curating and design, in design, by design, and through design is a practice that is still very much in development. This is obviously related to the rapid evolution of design in general, as well as the shifting and porous boundaries between different aspects of design. I am not overly concerned with the theoretical aspect of what we do at Z33, and focusing too much on theory always holds the danger of veering into dogmatism.

I do participate in the discussion on design curation through writing and publishing, but there is no organised forum for the subject. I think one can get inspired through these many informal kinds of encounters, collaborations, and dialogues.

DAMn° If you are seeing other exhibitions, places or media that inspire your own work, what are you looking for? Could you name a recent project that impressed you and tell me why it did?

JB Recently I am fascinated by the work of a Belgian economist, Bernard Lietaer, on money and its value and future. For some reason, there seem to be many Belgian theorists working at the moment on the way we organise our financial and social systems – including Gunter Pauli, who writes about sustainable economies, and Michel Bauwens, who writes about the economy of peer-to-peer and open-source platforms.

DAMn° Right now being a curator is like being a DJ, artist, or a barista a little while ago. What is your comment on that development? What separates the temporary curator from the professional?

JB I do not think there is such a thing as a “professional curator”. Professionalism lies in the attitude and commitment; it does not imply strict demarcations around the behaviour or strategies allowed. Already, it is impossible to define what a curator does with any uniformity, and for most curators, the organisation of exhibitions is only one of their roles. The most interesting practitioners let these different positions and relationships interfere and interact with each other.

Sven Ehmann: In Good Hands. DAMn°39, published on 6 July 2013.


Z33 House for Contemporary Art

Jan Boelen is former artistic director and founder of Z33 House for Contemporary Art in Hasselt, Belgium.

Z33 House for Contemporary Art in Hasselt, Belgium, organizes projects and exhibitions of contemporary art and design. Since 2002, Z33 has been fashioning projects and exhibitions that encourage the visitor to look at everyday matters in a novel manner.

Instead of having a permanent collection, Z33 focuses on an ongoing programme of temporary exhibitions. These exhibitions always have a strong social and research-based orientation, and they address topics from various artistic standpoints with a critical eye. Each project combines an exhibition with an extensive programme of related events. In addition to exhibitions, Z33 organizes artistic projects in public spaces and serves as a curator for exhibitions for external parties.

Projects at Z33 House for Contemporary Art touch on specific societal issues without an obligation for the ideas of proposals to be scientifically true, economically productive or politically correct. Alternative visions, multiple voices, fluctuating meanings and interpretations of the projects challenge to re-think certain issues with a fresh and open mindset.

In 2017–18, Z33 House for Contemporary Art will be renovated and a new wing will be built.

Z33 House for Contemporary Art
Z33 Research