The bkSM plastic art project is a partnership between the cultural centres of Strombeek-Bever and Mechelen (De Garage). The first project in this series will be a new, large-scale production by Brussels based artist Koen Theys. In Belgium, since the 1980s, he has played a crucial role in using video as a medium to generate sense.
Koen Theys does not use video as a substitute for cinema. However, he aims to bend reality to his will through editing and experimenting with new image techniques. In his productions reality is turned into a devised fiction that draws from the rich (Western) cultural heritage. Literature, philosophy, and cinema are all sources from which Koen Theys constructs his artistic world, blending the three disciplines into a new, by nature Utopian, reality.
Following his most recent productions, which include The Dynamite Show (2004) - a combination of images of explosions and (existing, bought) Hollywood special effects mixed with deafening sound -, and the impressive Vanitasrecord (2005) - an enormous sculptural installation made of, among other things, books, skulls, candles, bells, and 20,000 live snails, Koen Theys, for bkSM, presents his newest video project Meisjes & Filosofen (Girls & Philosophers).
The installation is made up of two panoramic projections supplemented with a collage of texts by Frank Vande Veire, philosopher.
On the one hand, viewers can see colourful images of young, dancing girls who are set against a white background and file past in an infinite flow, giving spectators challenging looks. This flow of images without sound involves viewers almost physically in the way the youth in the video presents itself. They slide past in a manipulated setting and become part of the subtle interplay of depth and methodical shifts in fore- and background. The images allude to fashion, advertising, and the promise to stay "young" forever.
On the other hand, pictures of old, grey men posing in perfectly "composed" yellowish light against a black background, are shown at the other bkSM location. Philosophers, standing or sitting, smoking cigars or not, while gazing at the public in a penetrating way slowly drift by before sliding out of view.
On both sites these images are mentally confronted with the projected text collage De Jeugd van Tegenwoordig (Today's Youth). Frank Vande Veire made a collection of quotes from philosophers, thinkers, and politicians who, through modernity, express their views on youth. It creates tension between image and thought.
Projecting both videos, Koen Theys visualises notions such as distance and approach both on the level of the exemplary mental gap between generations, and specific art-historical and biblical allusions. Using intelligently edited and recognizable imagery, he succeeds in unfurling the stratified 'cyclic' human life through a passing 'stream' of thoughts that simultaneously arouse feelings of glorification, irritation, and musings.
Koen Leemans/Luk Lambrecht – Preface in catalogue Girls & Philosophers