A CONVERSATION with Kristof Van Gestel

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WELCOME FOR A CONVERSATION! WHAT IS A CONVERSATION? at http://www.playgroundfestival.be/en/program/welcome-conversation-what-conversation

"Kristof Van Gestel invites you for an individual talk, through his artworks. Some ten sculptures/objects form the base of an exploration of form, content, interpretation, perception and use of art. The starting point is the way the audience responds to the artworks and the way the artist responds to the audience. By turning audience members into active participants, he provokes experiences that are close to life."

This artwork is part of: Knowing by Doing, a platform for research on participative art projects and experience-oriented workshops that was founded by Van Gestel based on his own practice.


I arrived at the empty room with only few objects gathered in one corner and was asked to display them all over the room, as I wanted to. First I was getting familiar with the different shapes, wondering where did they belong? And started by asking simple questions about the objects. The conversation evolved and then the artist would start asking me why I was choosing particular objects and also why to choose such disposition in space.

At some point the conversation went towards the method used by Kristof, his interest in phenomenology and the structures of experience, into a reflection on


Chance arouses from something which is only determined only up to a certain extent. In this case, and from the artist's perspective, determinism was given by his choices when defining the rules for the experience as well as the objects to be integrated, whilst chance belonged to the visitor who would give continuation to the artwork.

The objects worked as points of contact between the Artist and the Audience, creating an environment for an embodied experience and for communication (the actual conversation). New stories, new meanings emerge out of those objects, within that space.

This experience made me think of how the interplay between determinism and chance may open up a space for an "ecology of creativity". In my view, more important than the actual Artist's objects was the chance given to a space for interaction. Moving from one place to another within the same room, acquiring a greater sense of presence and spatial awareness made the whole conversation possible, and a new meaningful space. In Massumi's words, "we emerge from experience".