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LOOP Barcelona interviews Wiels artistic director Dirk Snauwaert

Drik Snauwaert, artistic director of Wiels, in Brussels, joined the LOOP jury for the edition of 2018. He tells LOOP about his thouhgts on collecting

How would you define collecting?
It’s definitely an act born out of compulsive reflexes that are similar to mechanisms of compensation for unfulfilled needs, wants and desires.

Do you think that collecting has an inherent and cultural aspect to it?
Evidently, in an anthropological sense, the accumulation of things that do not fulfil a need is a cultural process. On the contrary, the reproduction of similar patterns that arouse desire, in a non-medical sense, correspond to schemes of cultural production, of making existence meaningful.

What role can public and private collections play in shaping the contemporary art scene?
That of enabling things and of making them possible and shared publicly.

What do you think are the challenges related to collecting artists’ films and videos?
The biggest challenges are related to the preservation and conservation of the medium itself, the data but also to the displaying of technology that, if not taken into account, will ultimately follow the same fate of super8/16/35/70 mm celluloid film: that of an anachronistic technology of superior esthetical quality but nevertheless on the brink of disappearance for economic reasons.

Do you think there is an increasing attention towards video on the part of private collectors?
Digital, time-based arts have obtained a firm position in art production and in mass media, so in two of the most dominant forms of image making, that of academia and that of mass entertainment and publicity.

Do you think that the limited edition model can or should coexist with the free streaming of online video content?
Any forms of distribution of artwork should be able to co-exist and increase the visibility of things. The solution of the ‘limited edition’ had been invented to make larger productions possible, not to diminish possible circulation of the artworks.

Dirk Snauwaert (b. 1963) lives and works in Brussels. He has been involved with WIELS Contemporary Art centre since July 2004; he was appointed Artistic Director in January 2005. Before joining WIELS, Dirk Snauwaert was Co-Director of the Institut d’Art Contemporain Villeurbanne/Rhône-Alps, in France, where he was in charge of the exhibition programme and of the development of the FRAC Rhône-Alpes collection. He was Director of the Munich Kunstverein from 1996 to 2001, and, from 1989 to 1995; he was in charge of the contemporary art programme of the Société des Expositions of the Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels. He has organised and coordinated numerous exhibitions, both monographic and thematic, and he lectures and publishes regularly on art and visual culture. He has been a member of several boards and has sat on several juries. He is a member of the acquisitions committee of the Proximus Art collection.
He was also the curator of Jef Geys’ exhibition at the Belgian Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennial and of the thematic exhibition Atopolis for the European Cultural Capital Mons 2015 and Thomas Hirschhorn Pixel-Collages at the National Museum of Modern Art in Pristina, Kosovo (2018).