What Are We Having for Dinner Tonight?

date datum 15 October 1993 -
28 November 1993


Jef Geys, Kempens Informatieblad, special edition Alexanderpolder no 1, 13 October 1993

Belgian artist Jef Geys (1934) investigates the institutional function of the museum, often by assuming the role of the saboteur and infiltrator. His controversial proposal at the occasion of his exhibition at Antwerp’s Museum of Fine Arts in 1970, to blow up the museum, is exemplary of his approach.

For the Bruges Triennial in 1968, Geys proposed to rent out the exhibition space granted him to people who were not invited by the organizers. Such undermining projects are, of course, not permitted by museum authorities; Geys either exhibits the repressive reactions his proposals provoke or presents them in his newspaper the Kempens Informatieblad, which he publishes with each new project.

The exhibition Wat eten wij vandaag? (What Are We Having for Dinner Tonight?) was associated with the fifth Architecture International Rotterdam manifestation, whose theme was the postwar residential areas built in Rotterdam’s Alexanderpolder neighborhood to replace housing bombed during World War II. Geys’s project reacted on this manifestation by commenting on the abstract way architects, urban planners and politicians tend to think about the urban environment.

By inviting nine families from Alexandepolder to contribute to his exhibition, Geys let the residents have their own say about the area they inhabit. The project was realized with the cooperation of the families Bast, Battes and Risse, De Bruin, Diepstraten, Groot and Van Halem, Roodbeen and Boode, Van Schouwen, Sevenhuijsen, and Verkade.

In the exhibition, the families presented photographs of their living area. They reported on their daily experiences in three “Alexanderpolder special editions” of the Kempens Informatieblad, which was distributed in Rotterdam and Capelle aan den IJssel as a supplement to the door-to-door magazine De Havenloods. Each evening, throughout the entire exhibition period, one of the nine participating families was broadcast at dinner by the local television station.

About the participants
Geys, Jef Biography Jef Geys (Leopoldsburg, Belgium, 1934) Jef Geys is considered one of the most important Belgian artists of his generation. Since he appeared on the art scene at the start of the 1960s, Jef Geys has conceived of his entire oeuvre as an evolving project that combines a conceptual attitude, educational activity and formal experimentation. It the 1960s he began mapping out possible types of learning, putting to good use his position as a professor of art in Balen, which he held until 1989. From the start, Geys affirmed a radical independent position and developed an unprecedented approach to collective creativity, setting his work against institutional authority. In 1993 Geys was the guest curator of the exhibition What Are We Having for Dinner Tonight, at Witte de With, Rotterdam. Jef Geys' work has been exhibited worldwide at venues including the International Center of Photography, New York (2008); Marfa Gallery, Texas (2007); Orchard Gallery, New York (2007); IAC, Villeurbanne (2007); Pori Art Museum, Pori (2005); Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (2004); Documenta 11, Kassel (2002); Kunstverein, Munich (2001); Le Collège – Frac, Champagne-Ardenne (1995); Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels (1992); and São Paulo Biennial, Sao Paulo (1991). Geys will represent Belgium in the 2009 Venice Biennial.
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