Album Exhibition Matthias Yzebaert, Alexander Deprez, Corbin Mahieu, Yonas Seyoum Barbé Urbain, Ghent, 27-30 June 2019 (Listen to the album on Spotify / Soundcloud)
You see the sign. You walk into the room. You followthe pulsations, the lights follow you - do these people look familiar? You are here, now.
Closing the season at Barbé Urbain Gallery, “The Gift of Surrender” aims to evoke a three-day long, melancholy-drenched atmosphere, through the curious constellation of its constitutive elements. The exhibition “The Gift of Surrender” accompanies the new eponymous album by Matthias Yzebaert, and brings together the album, but also artworks by Yzebaert, photographs by Alexander Deprez, the graphic design of Corbin Mahieu and a film piece by Yonas Seyoum.
The album “The Gift of Surrender” calls upon listeners to “try not to try”1 for its proposed forty four-minute narrative journey past points of eerie darkness, sad suspense and hope. The coinciding visuals, also shown in the exhibition, do not only add to the multisensory impact of the record, but also subscribe the elicited feelings in a subtle and poetic way. The digital collages, layered images from “Society of Copy”, complement the setting. Hence, the story unfolds like a gift that is carefully unwrapped.
Another element in the exhibition’s constellation are the intimate photographs of Alexander Deprez. He is known for his autobiographical series ‘NN’, which unapologetically documents life with his wife Nathalie, yet his blunt but sincere approach to (analogue) photography pervades his other works as well. His portraits of the people surrounding him testify of a candid, sometimes uncanny or even unflattering vulnerability. They also bring about this sense of a community living uninterruptedly along the jolie laide of life.
Although in a different medium, also Corbin Mahieu’s graphic design attests to an “honest simplicity”2. His designs are often stripped bare, including paired down colour schemes, in order not to convolute the message. His aesthetics capture the essence of things, rather than making them shout the loudest. This also shows in the subdued nature of the graphic design of the “The Gift of Surrender” exhibition and album.
On the opening night, three songs will be performed live by Club Mayz. Yonas Seyoum will simultaneously show a video he made, based on these tracks. This work both feeds and feeds off the feelings, and perhaps most importantly, the atmosphere of the project.
For atmosphere is key in both the album and exhibition “The Gift of Surrender”. Since the eighteenth century, the word ‘atmosphere’ has been used metaphorically for the mood in the air of a place or situation. As German philosopher Gernot Böhme characterizes them, atmospheres “bathe everything in a certain light, unify a diversity of impressions in a single emotive state.”3 Hence, atmospheres are not things, they do not exist as solid entities. They are intrinsically intangible, but they can be ‘made’. Creating an atmosphere is setting the conditions which enable it to appear. Through complicity with their expressive characteristics, sounds, lights, or objects, can be used as so-called generators of the atmosphere – as is the case in this project. Consequently, the atmospheric aim is never achieved in a finalized object, “but in the imaginative idea the observer receives through the object.”4 The appearing atmosphere then is a totality that has to be experienced but cannot be expressed; it is a rather ungraspable, yet embodied ‘something more’.
Alexander Deprez (b. 1995, B) is a photographer and filmmaker, currently studying at Luca School of Arts Ghent. His photographs allow a voyeuristic view on his private life and his way of seeing the world.
Corbin Mahieu(b. 1991, B) is a freelance graphic designer. He currently operates in the field of publication and book design, brand identities, web design, posters or flyers and all printed matter.
Yonas Seyoum (b. 1992, B) is a visual artist. He tries to capture the forever unattainable and to crystallize the ephemeral. In an attempt to fulfill this desire, he mostly uses digital media.
Eline Verstegen(b. 1991, B) is an independent curator and writer. She also works on the production of the exhibitions and public programme at Kunsthal Extra City (Antwerp, B).
Matthias Yzebaert (b. 1983, B) is a music producer, graphic designer, artist, DJ and photographer. His multidisciplinary practice is as of recently brought together in Studio Yzebaert and Club Mayz.
Footnotes: 1 CLUB MAYZ, “Mirage (I’m Not There)”, track 6 on the album “The Gift of Surrender”, Wool-E Discs, 2019 2 SCHELFHOUT, Dorien, “Ghent-based designer Corbin Mahieu talks trust and honest simplicity”, The Word Magazine, 14 April 2017 3 BÖHME, Gernot, “The art of the stage set as a paradigm for an aesthetics of atmospheres”, Ambiances, 10 février 2013 4 Ibidem