The personal voice as an artistic method is at the core of the works exhibited in Sven Augustijnen’s installation Summer Thoughts. The artist makes use of a well-known format—the personal letter. The letters are written to the curator Marta Kuzma and dated between 2012 and 2016. In these texts he approaches historical events in a manner far from the information-loaded documentary. The letters are accompanied by a few archival objects, photographs and press clippings. Events are mentioned, reflected upon and questioned. There are notes on connections, connotations and coincidences, known facts and some misunderstandings. Historical
figures and events pass by—Lumumba, Hannah Ryggen and the Belgian Nazi officer who in the end of the war flew a small airplane from Norway to Spain, crashed on a beach and became a hero for contemporary neo Nazis. The juxtaposition of tapestries, letters and archival objects serves to address the present crisis in the world as an economic but also a moral and cultural crisis marked by a deficit of political democracy and the resurgence of fascism.
If the spectre of a “communist infiltration of Africa” was often used to justify the elimination of Patrice Lumumba, Congo’s first democratically elected prime minister, his assassination on January 17, 1961 created a spectre of its own. Sir Jacques Brassinne de La Buissière, then a young Belgian functionary, was in Elisabethville on that fateful day. He’s written several books on the subject and spent more than thirty years trying to bring to light “what really happened.” In commemorations, encounters, and a return visit to the place of the events fifty years after date, Jacques Brassinne attempts once more to conjure the ghosts of the past in Sven Augustijnen feature-length film Spectres. (For screening information, see the link.)