Harold Ancart

(Belgium) b.1980

Lives and works in New York and Brussels

Even if Harold Ancart’s practice takes on what seems like a plethora of forms – sculpture, installation or spatial intervention – they are all arguably, first and foremost, the fruit of his work as a draughtsman. His interest in drawing is founded on the conviction that any materialization begins with the trace. Seen from that angle, drawing is essentially transitional, and thus, also, the gesture that opens up the sculptural field. That is, indeed, what you could say his efforts are about: to open up (as opposed to fill up) space and to posit the premises of something in the process of becoming. The materials that compose Ancart’s work – at times, solid and essential (steel and wire) or, in other moments, fragile and immaterial (charcoal, pigment, and soot) – oscillate between a state of inertia and emergence. From these inherent tensions, the artist produces forms that elude what might otherwise resemble minimalism, abstraction or perfection. Each trace mocks its own precision and seems above all to reveal the beauty of a scar, that is, the suggestion of a space that opens and closes. 

For the Taipei Biennial 2014, Ancart proposes an installation composed of three elements: Bow, Ark, and Buk. Bow is a large wall paper that carries the image of a paradisiacal landscape that is set on fire. Five similar but smaller images will be mounted onto it. Despite their digital origin, these images found on the internet highlighted by traces of fire seem to have been yellowed by time as if they had stayed too long abandoned in the sun. All images, borrowing the basic vocabulary of leisure and travel, promote the utopia of a potential paradise, and support the idea that one has to dream if one intends to stay alive.

Bow muses on the impossibility of projecting oneself into the future, and the difficulties one may face while attempting to moving forwards.

Ark is a large sculpture made of 1,248 books stacked inside 52 cardboard boxes, labeled with their content. The boxes themselves will be displayed on the floor side by side and on top of each other, taking the shape of a long rectangle that mimics the shape of Noah's Ark, most commonly represented as a long, rectangular wooden structure in which animals supposedly found shelter in order to travel from the great flood into a new era. The books in the boxes are exact copies of an abandoned book found by the artist in a hallway of his studio building in Brooklyn in 2010. It was originally printed in 1958 in the Czech republic (then Czechoslovakia). It was originally called Zvirata Zblizka, and it is no longer subject to copyright. The book contains black and white images and text that focus on all the animals sheltered in the zoological garden of Prague, such as apes, lamas, lions, monkeys, parrots, snakes, pink flamingos…

Buk is a plastic bucket holding a smart phone that plays “The Ultimate Very Best of Elvis” on a loop. The bucket serves as a soundbox for the smart phone as it amplifies the sound of the music released through the speaker of the phone. This anticipative sculpture witnesses a fictional lifestyle improvement for homeless people in the future. No longer subject to cold, for they will all carry electronic warming systems incorporated into their jackets, the homeless people will reunite and party around Buk rather than metallic trash cans set on fire.

Harold Ancart earned an MFA in 2007 from the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Visuels, La Cambre, Brussels. Major group exhibitions include “Champs Elysées," Palais de Tokyo, Paris; "Un-Scene II," Wiels, Brussels (2012); and "Melanchotopia," Witte de With, Rotterdam (2011).

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