Els Dietvorst - Dooltocht I A desperate quest to find a base for hope


M HKA, Antwerpen

07 February 2020 - 30 August 2020

With *Dooltocht/A desperate quest to find a base for hope, the M HKA presents the first retrospective exhibition of the Antwerp artist Els Dietvorst. The exhibition presents a coherent overview of her large and complex oeuvre, which includes social actions, documentaries, films and videos, clay sculptures, theatre texts, ink drawings and installations.

Els Dietvorst is a socially engaged artist who uses her visual work as a means to create social involvement. She finds highly personal forms of expression in the various media she utilises. Her work focuses on the many forms of social communication and interpersonal relationships and conflicts. This is evidenced in impressive socio-artistic projects, such as De terugkeer van de zwaluwen (The Return of Swallows) (1999-2004) in the Brussels Anneessens district or Koningskinderen (Royal Children) (2003) in the juvenile detention centre in Mol. Dietvorst also pays specific attention to the position of the outsider and focuses her gaze – sometimes over a period of several years – on people and events that would otherwise go unnoticed. In 2003, for example, she followed Luigi, an Italian migrant who herded his sheep on the banks of the Brussels-Charleroi canal, and created an authentic portrait of him in Lied voor de prijs van een geit (Song for the price of a goat).

Els Dietvorst's oeuvre deals with collaboration, communication and social and ecological awareness. The exhibition *Dooltocht/A desperate quest to find a base for hope seeks to find a framework in which to present this complexity, for no matter how energetic her art may be, it essentially revolves around fragility, transformation and metamorphosis. This ties in with the specificity and diversity of her media use. *Dooltocht/A desperate quest to find a base for hope aims to convey this approach within a cohesive picture, reflecting sharp choices and presented in an individual manner, allowing space for time and connective possibilities.

*Dooltocht/A desperate quest to find a base for hope is a continuation of the series of exhibitions in which the M HKA presents a specific overview of both younger (Laure Prouvost, Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven, Otobong Nkanga) and more historical (Chantal Akerman, Marcel Broodthaers, James Lee Byars, Joseph Beuys, Robert Filliou) artists, with a focus on the contemporary relevance potential of their specific oeuvre.



On the occasion of the exhibition, we present the publication Els Dietvorst, published by die Keure, Bruges, with text contributions by Bart De Baere, Els Dietvorst, Hans Theys, Cherry Smyth, Roberto Monteiro and Pascal Gielen.

The publication comprises an English main volume with texts and images, and a Dutch addendum with translated texts. The publication will be available at the M HKA-shop from 06.02.2020 onwards.


3D Scan:
Please enjoy the 3D scan of the presentation here.

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