Elias Cafmeyer creates site-specific installations often in public space or inspired by the use of public space in an urban context. He sees the city landscape as a metaphor for social construction and focusses on traces of city development and forms of signage orchestrating mobility. His interventions deal with strategies such as inversion, juxtaposition and contrast, creating a sense of alienation. His site-specific installations result often in tragicomical illusions questioning the use and the representation of public space and its impact on the social construction in the urban landscape.

 

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Untitled (Viaduct), 2017

Capital M, Antwerp

wood, texture paint, bister, charcoal, parquet varnish

photo's by Rufus Michielsen

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Camping et Stationnement de Véhicules Aménagés Interdit, 2022

Radicale 1924, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie (FR)

 

« Camping et stationnement de véhicules aménagés interdit » is a contemporary interpretation of a surrealistic objet-trouvée: a white van has become completely useless by the presence of a brick wall. I made this work during my last stop after an Odyssey through Europe. This verry van was my refuge during several months.

The French law prohibiting spending the night in a vehicle (even if parked on private property) is taken very seriously in the touristic region of the Lot: many streets and car parks have street signs refusing the entrance to camping cars, caravans, and furnished vans. As a reaction on this regulation on tourism, I treated my own van as if it were an empty building in an urban environment where the owner tries to keep squatters out.

I elevated my van as an artwork / sculpture and parked it in the idyllic town of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. Doing so, I comment on the recent construction of not less than five car parks surrounding the village, which is permanently inhabited by not more than fifteen people and located in a nature reserve. If you own a van as an inhabitant of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie you are even asked to park it further away because it might disturb the image of the village. By making my own vehicle inaccessible and unmovable, I also reflect on the current crisis on fuel prices.

By using red construction bricks, I react on the prohibition of the usage of these bricks in the region. Both the multitude of car parks and the brick regulation are for me a sign of the Disneylandification of European cities and countryside.

Connection Stations of Past and Present, 2022

spazioSERRA, Lancetti railway station, Milano (IT)

Every day we travel on roads and use means of transportation respecting the social order, knowing how to interpret which position to take, which distances, which directions. This is why it is absolutely normal to expect to find a ticket machine in a train station, just as it is normal to orient yourself with the signs provided, and to respect the line to buy your ticket. This is normal because more or less the whole globalized world is connected with communication routes, infrastructures that regulate nomadism, and normalize every individual movement. 

What would happen if suddenly we were faced with another reality, if the functionalism of public transportation was disrupted, failed? This is the case of Connecting Stations of Past and Present, a site-specific installation that Belgian artist Elias Cafmeyer conceived and created ad hoc for spazioSERRA. The artist's idea is to present to passersby a "glitch in reality," one that is actually perceived as an error in space-time: in fact, enclosed in the vacuum of spazioSERRA — in the Lancetti railway station in Milan — there is an impenetrable fragment of another station, the Schaarbeek station, which actually exists in Brussels. In some respects this is an absurd deception, the purpose of which is to destabilize and catch off guard, an attitude that has illustrious precedents particularly among Belgian artists, some of whom proudly constitute Cafmeyer's main references: Guillaume Bijl and Luc Deleu are emblematic cases in point. But in Connecting Stations of Past and Present, compared to the many "Belgian absurdism"-style installations Cafmeyer has previously made in public spaces, there is an extra cue, for the station fragment we see here — from the name Schaarbeek indicated by the large sign — is nothing more than the reconstruction of a personal memory of the artist. In fact, the brief private life note, embedded in Cafmeyer's larger project of social critique, sees him involved in a long love story that took place precisely between Belgium and Italy, precisely between Brussels Schaarbeek station and Milan Lancetti station. Hence the choice of title Connecting Stations of Past and Present, which by connecting stations relates private lives to the collective dynamics of urban displacement.

It is the public context of urban displacement that has always fascinated Cafmeyer. Trains, cars, parking lots and stations are often protagonists of his installations because public infrastructure is one of the most obvious aesthetic counterparts of social structures, or to put it better: because the form of our means of transportation blatantly translates the organization of our society. The case of the Lancetti - Schaarbeek relationship is particularly strong because these are two stations in the northern part of their respective cities, both of which are under-centralized and somewhat neglected areas. The willingness to play with the absurd, moreover, is closely connected with the reflection on the site: spazioSERRA in the vast majority of cases has an unintended audience, an audience of distracted observers who walk along the railway station directed toward their destinations and oriented by that signage and design that, as we said before, normalizes movement with the affordance of a fast-running system. The rupture in space-time of Connecting Stations of Past and Present is first of all intended to interrupt the functionalism of the system, and to produce for an instant in the passerby a new attitude, that of the observer, or rather of the flâneur, or the child: «To the child's gaze, the surrounding life appears as part of his own life: the child loses himself in it as he loses himself in a toy, hence the perpetual discovery of the flâneur, in a labyrinthine journey that brings an infinity of surprises.» (V. Ruggiero, Movimenti nella città, 2000).

If such an intent to produce a different gaze seems primarily driven by a playful impulse, it must be said that Cafmeyer's work is linked to social criticism more than it seems at first glance. The fake and the absurd are often tools for hypertrophizing certain issues in the system, and in our case the "Visit Belgium!" billboard indicates how much the functionalism that normalizes our travel is primarily aimed at the economy of tourism (and not, for example, at generative community development). 

It is absolutely normal to expect to find a ticket machine in a train station, as we said in the beginning. But now, one wonders, can it also be otherwise?

Text written by Arianna Magsitrale

 

NL - In het kader van het Antwerp Art Weekend en de STRT Schot prijs 2017 creëert Elias Cafmeyer een nieuwe site - specifieke installatie, in de projectruimte FrontStudio.

Door de open garagepoort lokken de brandende koplampen van een metrostel de aandacht van toevallige voorbijgangers. Kinderen vergeten hun drempelvrees en trekken hun ouders mee naar binnen. Le Nouveau Métropolitain Anversois is de verwezenlijking van een kinderdroom. Je eigen trein bouwen er overal mee naar toe reizen, waarheen je ook maar wilt.

De metro lijkt uit een tunnel te komen die de ruimte in twee deelt. Bezoekers stappen de wagon binnen en komen terecht in een royaal gedecoreerde treinwagon. De luxueuze uitvoering vormt een sterk contrast met de smerige en geroeste buitenkant van de metro, versleten door het eindeloze voortrazen in tunnels langs telkens hetzelfde traject. Elias Cafmeyer hanteert de illusie als strategie om beelden te creëren die iedereen begrijpt.

Het gulden interieur roept de herinnering op aan de eerste treinen en de exclusiviteit die toen gepaard ging met de vrijheid van het reizen. De metro daarentegen verwijst naar één van de speerpunten van de democratie: het aanbieden van betaalbaar openbaar vervoer. Metro’s bewegen zich automatisch volgens een vast traject. Treinen daarentegen staan symbool voor lange afstandsreizen en het opzoeken van nieuwe oorden. Vandaag is reizen nog steeds niet voor iedereen weggelegd, integendeel. Afhankelijk van afkomst wordt het terug moeilijker. Afgebouwde grenzen krijgen nieuw leven ingeblazen. Democratie verandert langzaam in een utopie, de vrijheid van mobiliteit is een illusie.

 

Met dit werk creëert Cafmeyer een sculptuur voor de hedendaagse complexiteit van mobiliteit en gelijkheid. Tegelijk knipoogt het werk ook naar lokale mobiliteitsproblemen aan de Turnhoutsebaan met het spookstation Drink en de ondergrondse tram die door de Antwerpenaar trots een metro wordt genoemd.

Grande Inauguration du Nouveau Métropolitain Anversois, 2018

Front Studio, Studio STRT / AAIR, Antwerp

For Residents Only, 2018

YART, Duivelsteen, Ghent

EN - For Residents Only is an installation that brings certain elements out of the public space together into a sculptural summery. The elements refer to a language used for urban spaces like a car park, a roundabout or a square. Combining those elements reduces the public space into abstraction. The viewer is at the same time confronted with the way we interpret (traffic) signs as purely functional, without looking further into the visual impact they have on the streetscape.

For Residents Only is also a reaction to the typical present day Disneyfication of historical city centres. The installation is cross to the emergence of mobility plans, emission-free areas and pedestrian zones, however the contrast between historical heritage and urban misfits is prominently present in the Belgian urban landscape.

Unconventional Surroundings, 2017

Next Door by Keteleer Gallery, Antwerp

Unipark Extra City, 2019,

Kunsthal Extra City, Antwerp

photo's by Tomas Uytendaele

Alpine Gallery, 2018

Coming People, S.M.A.K., Ghent

wood, metal, texture paint, bister, charcoal, parquet varnish

 

NL - De publieke ruimte is een van de belangrijkste inspiratiebronnen voorhet werk van Elias Cafmeyer. De kunstenaar interesseert zich niet alleen voor stedelijke planning en ordening, maar ook voor de sociale rol die openbare ruimte binnen onze maatschappij vervult. In video-werk en sculpturen onderzoekt hij sporen van stedelijke ontwikkeling en verschillende vormen van signalisatie.

 

Door elementen uit het straat-beeld, zoals verkeerslichten, straatlantaarns en kegels, te isoleren of in marmer of beton na te maken, ontdoet hij ze van hun oorspronkelijke functie. De kunstenaar confronteert ons subtiel met de wijze waarop we signalen (in het verkeer en andere contexten) louter functioneel inter-preteren zonder stil te staan bij hun visuele impact op de omgeving.

Ook site-specifieke installaties, die voornamelijk in de publieke ruimte worden opgezet, zijn een belangrijk onderdeel van Cafmeyers praktijk. Hierin verplaatst hij realistische momentopnames van stedelijke situ-aties naar andere contexten. Zo is Alpine Giftshop (2018), specifiek gecreëerd voor deze tentoonstelling, geïnspireerd op overdekte auto-wegen die langs één zijde zicht bieden op berglandschappen.

 

De installatie oogt monumentaal maar lijkt tegelijk op te gaan in de archi-tectuur van het museum. Ze komt zowel herkenbaar als bevreemdend over, een grens die Cafmeyer vaak aftast.

Soest, Provincie Antwerpen, Vlaams Gewest (BE), 2022

Jump the wall, Paltzbiënnale, Soest / Utrecht (NL)

Afgesloten wegens werken, 2020

Ter Posterie, Roeselare

Werken Tunnel Luchtvaart, Travaux Tunnel Aviation, 2021

Vitrine NICC, Brussels

R37, Ringweg rond Bekegem, 2018

Artistic festival Plan B, Bekegem

NL - Eindelijk is het zo ver: één jaar na de goedkeuring en bijna drie jaar na het ontstaan van de plannen gaan we eindelijk van start met de bouw van de langverwachte ringweg rond Bekegem. De R37 is geboren!


Gedurende bijna 3 jaar zullen we de omgeving van Bekegem zien veranderen totdat we op een punt komen waar Bekegem zich trots naast andere West-Vlaamse ringsteden zoals Brugge, Roeselare, Kortrijk en Ieper kan plaatsen.


De ringweg van Bekegem verleent een aansluiting op de E40 ter hoogte van de Paddegatstraat in Ettelgem. Aan de andere kant komt dit verbindingsstuk uit ten noorden van Bekegem en vormt samen met een afrit de verkeerswisselaar Bekegem Noord.

Dit trompetknooppunt zal worden aangelegd met viaducten in 3 niveaus. Daarnaast komen er nog 3 afritten: Zerkegem, Doornhoek en Roksem-Westkerke.

Tenslotte wordt er nog het klaverbladknooppunt Bekegem Vaart aangelegd. Deze laatste wordt aangelegd samen met een verbreding tot viervaksweg van de Vaartstraat en Watervallestraat. Op die manier kan men gemakkelijk voorsorteren om de R37 op te rijden.

EN - Ready for the R37? (2019) is the fake announcement that Bekegem, a small village in the countryside counting 1082 inhabitants, is getting a ring highway road around town. There are posters in the entire town announcing the start of the installation of the viaduct. At the same time there is a (fake) countermovement of the villagers protesting against the ring road. At one house that would have to be (fake) demolished in order to build a junction there are signs protesting to leave the property. 

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Solid Leftovers, 2017

Het is niet anders, CC252, Ekeren / Antwerp

Hij is van achter de dom, 2020

DAK, Utrecht (NL)

In 1674, the central nave of the cathedral of Utrecht was destroyed by a storm. The debris of the cathedral wasn't cleared over a course of 150 years due to a lack of money. The site became a famous meeting place for homosexual activity, known even by French and Italian ambassadors travelling through the city. Eventually it was the cause of the "Sodomy trials" in the Dutch Republic from 1730 to 1797. Over 350 trials were kept, many of them ended in a death sentence. 

 

"Hij is van achter de dom" (He is from behind the cathedral) became a mockery in The Netherlands, referring to the potential homosexuality of a man. 

 

Cafmeyer created a site-specific installation looking back on this fragment of Utrecht's history and linking it to present-day themes: the current storms caused by global warming, overthrowing of destructive religions (and in extend suppressive ideologies and mechanisms) and minorities rising up in the foundations of decaying superpowers. 

 

Untitled (waving street signs), 2019
Metal, paint, bister, rotation mechanism, lamps

Installation view By placing all the cars of the world next to each other, you could fill Belgium 256 times, Mariondecannière, Antwerp

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Tentoonstellingsmeubilair (Exhibition Furniture), 2021
wood, acrylic satin lacquer, bister, charcoal, street lamp, electric wire
200 x 60 x 250 cm

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A Few Fossils Fuelling on Fossil Fuel, 2019
Concrete, plaster, plastic

Installation view By placing all the cars of the world next to each other, you could fill Belgium 256 times, Mariondecannière, Antwerp

Constantin, 2015
concrete
300 x 55 x 55 cm

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The world is in fact one big zoological garden, 2019
Road maps, acrylic paint

Installation view By placing all the cars of the world next to each other, you could fill Belgium 256 times, Mariondecannière, Antwerp

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Blacks, Yellows and Reds, 2020
Plasticrète, wood, PUR, glass fibre, light elements,
156 x 143 x 355 cm and 64 x 57 x 275 cm

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Untitled (Temple), 2016
wood, metal
variable dimensions

View during Open Studio's at workspacebrussels, 2021

 

Untitled (Project Proposal I), 2016

wood, metal, bister

70 x 50 x 60 cm

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Untitled (Project Proposal II)
Untitled (Project Proposal II)

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Untitled (Project Proposal II), 2017

wood, acrylics, plexi, metal, bister

75 x 75 x 68 cm

maquette
maquette

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Untitled (Project Proposal III), 2017
Untitled (Project Proposal III), 2017

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maquette
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Untitled (Project Proposal III), 2017

wood, metal, model grass, sand, bister,

25 x 25 x 63 cm

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Untitled (Project Proposal IV), 2017
Untitled (Project Proposal IV), 2017

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Untitled (Project Proposal IV), 2017

wood, acrylics, bister, charcoal

25 x 25 x 63 cm

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Untitled (project proposal V),

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Untitled (project proposal V)
Untitled (project proposal V)

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Untitled (Project Proposal IV), 2019

wood, acrylics, bister, plastic, insulation foam, grass for scale models

58,5 x 58,5 x 78 cm

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Untitled (Project Proposal V), 2022

wood, acrylics, bister, plastic, insulation foam, grass for scale models

55 x 40 x 20 cm

 

Fragment of Kwintet in one screen. In an exhibition format however the work is presented on 5 different screens or projections

Kwintet, 2017
Video-installation for 5 monitors and 5 players
Each video between 1’ 44’’ and 3’ 01’’ (loop)
H.264 - PAL - Color - Dolby Digital

Kwintet is a video installation for five screens showing five different streets in Antwerp. The buildings of the streets are photographed separately and photoshopped back into one image. The image slowly passes in front of the screen whilst hearing a sound piece. The score of this sound piece is based on the heights of the buildings. 

 

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De editie bestaat uit 15 parkeertickets van verschillende parkings in Antwerpen. De parkeertickets werden nooit gevalideerd of betaald, waardoor ze continu blijven stijgen in negatieve waarde.

Met een tekstje door Ria Pacquée.

 

15 exemplaren en 3 AP’s

The parking garage on fire, 2019
Parking Ticket, paper, Plexi
15 x 10 x 3 cm

edition of 15 + 3 AP's

Ring Roads, 2018
Digitale print on paper, drawing with black pen
A4 (21 x 29,7 cm)
Signed edition of 10

Unconventional Surroundings Voorstudie, 2017
Digital print on papier
A3 (29,7 x 42 cm)
Signed edition of 25

P1010166
P1010166

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Publication created after the video work with the same title.
The booklets show panorama’s of Antwerp. Each booklet represents a score for an instrument, the heights of the buildings determine the tone the instrument plays. The CD contains the music of all the instruments playing together.

Published by In The End, Books?

Quintet, 2017
Digital print on paper
5 booklets in folder + Cd
Signed edition of 25

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Europe is in fact one big zoological garden, 2018
Acrylic on Michelin map in cardboard box
Signed edition of 25

 

Curriculum

1990
Roeselare (B)

 

2013 - 2014

Graphic Design - Royal Academy for Fine Arts  Antwerp

 

2014 - 2016
Sculpture / Spacial Art - Sint-Lucas Antwerp

2016 - 2017

Master in Visual Arts - Sint-Lucas Antwerp

2021 - 2022

Educational Master in Visual Arts, LUCA, Brussels

Exhibitions

Solo shows

2022

Connecting stations of past and present, spazioSERRA, Lancetti Railway station, Milano (IT)

2021

Travaux Tunnel Aviation, Werken Tunnel Luchtvaart, Vitrine, NICC Brussels

 

2020

Afgesloten wegens werken, Ter Posterie, Roeselare

Hij is van achter de dom, DAK, Utrecht (NL)

 

 

2019 

 

Blacks, Yellows, Reds and Whites, Secondroom, Antwerp

Unipark Extra City, Extra City, Antwerp

By placing all the cars of the world next to each other, you could fill Belgium 256 times, Mariondecannière, Antwerp

 

2018

 

Grande Inauguration du nouveau métropolitain Anversois, Front Studio, Studio Start, Antwerp, Solo show on invitation of Studio Start, during Antwerp Art Weekend

For Residents Only, Duivelsteen, Ghent, Installation in semi-public space

               

 

2017

 

Unconventional surroundings, Next Door by Keteleer Gallery, Antwerp, Solo show on invitation by Keteleer gallery

Kwartier, Van Geertstsraat, Antwerp, Light and sound piece in public space

2016

 

La bibliothèque Flamande, Jezuïetenrui, Antwerp

Group Shows

2022

 

Radicale 1924, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie (FR)

Paltzbiënnale, Utrecht (NL)

 

2021

 

Spuitwater, Inbox MuHKA, Antwerp

Open Studio’s workspacebrussels, Kaaistudio, Brussels

 

2020

 

City Trip, CC De Steiger, Menen

Unconventional Surroundings, Roeselare

Een blik achter de muur, blikfabriek, Antwerpen

Les Fils Rouge, YouTube ArtSpace ‘Work on display - the Quarantine way’

Artist Print, Brass, Brussels

 

2019

 

Various Exhibition Titles, Showroom MAMA, Rotterdam (NL)

Konvooi, Het Entrepot, Bruges

With pleasure, Avec Plaisir, Met Plezier, Serpentine, Bruxelles, group show organized by Joëlle Tuerlinckx with students of ERG school of arts.

Nachbarenbesuch, Tyson Raum, Cologne (D)

 

2018

 

Plan B, Gouvernement, Ghent, Group show

Plan B, Bekegem, Outdoor art festival

Pragmatismus und Selbstorganisation, IKOB, Eupen

YART, art in public space, Duivelsteen, Ghent

Coming People, S.M.A.K., Ghent

Art in the Park, Putte, Outdoor sculpture exhibition, collaboration with

Keteleer Gallery and Middelheim Museum

20 years NICC, NICC, Antwerp

 

 

2017

 

Het Is Niet Anders, Hof Ter Bist, Ekeren, Curated by Johan Desmet and Nadia Bijl

Southern Comfort, Fort 5, Edegem, Group show (self organized)

Capital M, Rodestraat, Antwerp, Masters graduate show, curated by Spank Moons and Kurt Vanbelleghem

Multiplied, De Apotheek, Antwerp, Curated by Susan Kuijpers, Mark Lissens

Nacht van de Beeldende Kunst, De Studio, Antwerp, Curated by Nadia Bijl

Uh Yes Uh No, Antwerp, Mastershow Sint Lucas Antwerpen (self organized)

 

2016

 

Artenova: 28 artists, 3 exhibitions, 2000m², D ART, Mechelen, Curated by Nadia Bijl

Eerste Persing / Extra Vierge, Oude Beurs, Antwerp, Group show

Flash Back, Bachelortentoonstelling, Sint Lucas, Antwerp, curator Geoffrey De Beer

 

2015

 

Weihnachtsexposition, Showroom Sint Lucas, Antwerp

Zonder Schroom, STRT Kit atelier, Antwerpen, Performance event

Project Object, Showroom Sint Lucas, Antwerp, Group show

Point of View, Factor 44, Antwerp, Duo show

 

 

2014

 

Bridging the Islands, Showroom Sint Lucas, Antwerp, curator Felicitas Rohden

Deconstructie/Reconstructie, Showroom Sint Lucas, Antwerp

Weihnachtsexposition, Showroom Sint Lucas, Antwerp

Awards

2018 Nomination for Prijs van de vrienden van het S.M.A.K.

2017 STRT Schot prijs, Studio Start / AAIR, Antwerp