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Valentine Kempynck op een dak tijdens het bouwen van een Banksje






Working with darkness, that's what Valentine Kempynck (°1963) does. To grant darkness its
place in the everyday by developing rituals and making functional and symbolic shrouds. In the
past two years she started collaborations in the professional funeral community to gain
expertise and understand the needs of the dead and who surrounds them. Before, she worked
for over 25 years as a costume and set designer in theatre, dance, music, film in Belgium and
abroad with artists like Ivo Vanhove, Robert Altman, Meg Stuart and many others.

The rituals Kempynck works from seemingly have been ‘discovered’ rather than created, found
in actions plucked from the reality of the day, close by. Often her starting point is a simple
gesture, resting in the ordinary because that's where we find comfort, where we recognize
ourselves. From that private space of a conscious act, she carries them over into the world
where they are offered in still hidden spaces, new hosts, both in private and public contexts. In
earlier times art always had a ceremonial, ritual, religious or political function. Her practice leans
towards this tradition. The artistic act as meditation, medication.

Kempynck works with individuals, families, children, professional undertakers in specific
situations of loss and death and created a natural ceremony space in Kapellen. Collaborations

with cultural organisations like e.g. Kaaitheater show the need and potential in society of
practicing ritual awareness. During her research project ’The sacred space of an action’ at the
Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp, she developed methods to let the design
of the shroud take place in consultation with the family and friends and the people who will wear
the shroud. She also gives workshops and lectures and sustains an artistic archival practice
connected to the visual traces left behind by the ritual acts.

(...) Laat ons wandelen, eindeloos wandelen, over de doden die achter ons en onder ons en voor ons liggen, opdat we ten slotte ophouden de dood te zien als iets wat niet onszelf maar de ander overkomt. De levenloze publieke ruimte zal worden gereanimeerd door er de dood eindelijk zijn plaats te gunnen. De dood zal eindelijk verlost zijn van de terreur van stilte en rust, ontworsteld aan de dwangbuis van het groen. De openbare ruimte zal eindelijk bevrijd zijn van haar vrijblijvendheid.


Wim Cuyvers



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Kapelsestraat 41

2950 Kapellen


+32 (0)484 038 546

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