Continuum 2013
Photo-Emulsion on Concrete Wall, 200x300cm.

The first photographic images made in the ninetieth century were true marvels, understood by those lucky enough to view them as pictures with a mysterious, ever miraculous quality. In the twentieth century photography would gradually find its place in the canon of art history and slowly become a valid and vital medium of artistic expression. Today, not only do we constantly encounter hundreds of photographic images, we are also most likely taking our own snapshots. Despite the lack of effort involved, the majority of these are perfectly sound photographs, governed by a host of automatic features that would have been unthinkable to most people even just 20 years ago. The amateur is dead and the camera is no longer something that emerges on special occasions. It is now an intrinsic piece of our everyday apparatus and a core component of an equally omnipresent force; social media. Stopping to pause and look - really look - has become as rare a treat as it was 150 years ago.

‘Continuum 2013’ monumentalises a disappearing act, while simultaneously questioning the theme of monumentality in itself. The dictionary translates a monument as something that is “very important” and “worth looking at”. Yet who decides when something is good enough to receive this status? Questioning this concept Heleen Peeters made a fluxes photo installation for Ithaka 21, a visual arts festival in the centre of Leuven (BE). Located in three beautiful buildings next to the city hall, there was one site than soon will be demolished. De Vlaamse Leergangen is a building that unlike the other surrounding constructions remained unprotected. It is therefor bound to make space for a newer and better-looking creation in the near future.

By making use of the science and chemistry behind analogue photography the artist expresses her explorations. Thereby, the process – the path to make a picture a picture – has become an integral part of the work. As with most of her recent projects she is continuously exploring the properties of light and the cycle of time, suggesting the deep roots of history, space and the unknown. By distilling memories through the filter of personal reflection and insight, she uses an abstracted visual language that nevertheless retains a vestige of the visible world.

For Ithaka 21, Heleen Peeters transformed one of rooms in De Vlaamse Leergangen into a darkroom. She used this setting to apply light-sensitive photographic emulsion to a concrete wall, after which it was exposed with a negative depicting the front of the exhibition site. Yet, unlike most photographs, this creation was not fixated. Thus, once light enters the room, the image fades away. As a result when the exhibition is over, the image disappears and the attention for the non-monumental site comes to an end.

Click here to watch a video about the making of 'Continuum 2013'.