Fear in a Handful of Dust
May 7 th till June 18 th
With: Bart Baele, Steven Baelen, Virginie Bailly, Anouk de Clercq, Joacquin Cocina&Cristobal Leon, Bruno Hardt, Harald Thys & Jos de Gruyter, Nick Van Dijck, Renato Nicolodi, Philippe Vandenberg, Stefan Serneels, Renie Spoelstra.
The theme, of course, immediately reminds of the films of Alfred Hitchcock – the master of suspense. In his movies, he depicted situations in a way the audience was forced to go along and to anticipate every step of the way. Like this, Hitchcock also directed his audience towards a constant state of suspense. As he made clear, his modus operandi focused on completely immersing his audience to a climax: ‘[I]t is indispensable that the public be made perfectly aware of all of the facts involved. Otherwise there is no suspense.’ (quote from an interview with Alfred Hitchcock by François Truffaut)
Artists also direct the public, but contrary to Hitchcock they force their audience to look at a fixed form of suspense, often in just one image. When we consider what suspense in an image can be, we notice it’s incredibly hard to grasp. After all, suspense doesn’t explain a fixed layer of meaning, but always leaves room for interpretation and constantly plays at a certain form of tension via contextual and formal clues.
‘Fear in a handful of dust’, after a quote from the famous T.S. Eliot poem ‘The Waste Land’, first and foremost wants to be an exhibition that shows how suspense manifests itself in a myriad of ways in contemporary art.
‘Let us suppose that there is a bomb underneath this table between us. Nothing happens and then all of a sudden, “Boom!” There is an explosion. The public is surprised, but prior to this surprise, it has seen an absolutely ordinary scene, of no special consequence. Now, let us take a suspense situation. The bomb is underneath the table and the public knows it, probably because they have seen the anarchist place it there. The public is aware that the bomb is going to explode at one o’clock and there is a clock in the décor. The public can see that it is quarter to one. In these conditions the
same innocuous conversation becomes fascinating because the public is participating in the scene. The audience is longing to warn the characters on the screen, “You shouldn’t be talking about such trivial matters. There’s a bomb beneath you and it’s about to explode!” In the first case we have given the public fifteen seconds of surprise at the moment of the explosion. In the second case we have provided them with fifteen minutes of suspense.’