Antwerp: Day 1
Early thispast Tuesday, at around 4:30 in the morning, Anke and I left Paris on a train northern-bound for Antwerp. We headed out a day ahead of the rest of the group so we could head to the Red Fish Factory to install a show that the SAIC Fashion Department was asked to participate in. The Red Fish Factory is a glorious space for artists, run by partners Christoph Broic and Thomas Engels. Originally an old garment factory, the entire space has slowly been converted by them into a series of artist studios, galleries, and their own personal living space. The space is utterly spectacular, with hardwood floors and floor-to-ceiling windows in every studio that face out onto the open courtyard and can be entirely opened to let in the outside air. I would love to rent out one of those spaces if I ever lived in Antwerp.
The exhibition, Nu Fashion #01 consisted of former students of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, who now teach in different locations around the world. Anke being one of those professors, SAIC was invited to participate in this exhibition that was all about Identity. We shipped multiple gigantic boxes of garments from Chicago to Antwerp, and when Anke and I arrived at ten in the morning they were all silently waiting for us, some a little battered, and all waiting to be unpacked.
We spent the first three hours simply unpacking all of the garments, hanging them up and steaming all of them. Then we began to tackle the tremendous task of putting all of the garments on mannequins. With only two of us to install the show, and three rooms worth of garments to assemble, it was a large undertaking that took hours of work. We slowly assembled the looks, wrangling the mannequins, removing arms and legs, tackling them together and then reassembling. You could not imagine how difficult it is to wrangle mannequin into complicated outfits… but somehow we managed it!
This mannequin dressing took most of the rest of the day, with only an occasional break for a run to the friture down the road [side note: Belgium is apparently known for its Fritures, aka: french fry stores. they are absolutely everywhere, and you can walk into any place and walk out with a delicious paper cone full of amazing fries with delicious sauces]. Besides our momentary indulgence in fries and great, mainly Dutch, conversations with Thomas and Christoph, Anke and I spent the entire time working and setting up the display. We left as the sun went down around 10:30 and walked back to our hotel room for the night.
It was a great day of working with Anke. She’s always been one of my favorite professors, and I always respect her opinions and what she has to say. It was great to get to spend time with her talking about life, her time in Antwerp, and the art world, among other things. It’s also an incredible experience to install a big art show, especially when it involved so many art pieces.