André Raymond shot the above still photo on the film set for René Sti’s 1926 film, starring Jean Painlevé. The Unknown Woman of the Six-Day Race is the story of two men who fall in love with the same mysterious woman and follow her to the eponymous bicycle race. The film was to have mixed material shot in the studio, documentary footage of racing cyclists, ‘surreal’ animated passages depicting metamorphic bicyclists, and the dreams of its characters.
Although Sti never completed his film, Painlevé became intrigued with cinematographer André Raymond’s camera techniques, which inspired him to start making his own films.
His debut The Stickleback’s Egg: From Fertilization to Hatching got him labeled as a zoological surrealist and he went on to complete more than 20 «scientific-poetic” movies. Numerous artists involved with/connected to Waldburger Wouters credit the neozoological dramatist Painlevé as a source of inspiration.
Six-day races are grueling cycling events on a track. Originally, riders competed alone, the winner being the cyclist who completes the most laps during six days and nights. Later, the format was changed to allow teams of two, one racing while the other rested. This 24-hour-a-day regime has also been relaxed, now occurring over six consecutive evenings from 6pm to 2am, typically on indoor tracks (velodromes). Belgium has a grand tradition of these races, the most celebrated being the “Six Days of Ghent” which has happened every year since 1922 at T’kuipke Velodrome in the Citadel Park.
To celebrate Eddy Merckx: The Cannibal, who won the Tour de France fifty years ago, the race starts this July in Brussels to commemorate his winning his first yellow jersey. Merckx raced and won many six-day races, often together with his close friend Patrick Sercu, who won 88 six-day races overall (a record) and still holds the kilometer cycling record. (Sercu still goes around as the fastest man on a bike over 1 kilometer, a distance on which he set 3 world records.)
To honour sports, bodies in movement, as well as humans engaging nonhuman subjects, Waldbuger Wouters presents the exhibition “Finishing Line.”
An amateur boxer and archer, Anastasia Bay knows what a sporting high is. Brussels-based since 2013, she trained in painting at the Beaux-Art de Paris. Her paintings, which have acquired a certain Belgitude, are known for her playful handling of subjects and fine drawn brushstrokes are recurring elements.
Christoph Blawert is a painter who lives between Berlin and Antwerp. He has spent many winters in the North of Finland, going by train, and trading painting for food and lodging. Characterised by a dry humour, his paintings exhibit a great respect for painters of old.
Eric Giraudet de Boudemange often addresses folkloric sports in his work. Here he presents a photographic series which depict underperforming racing pigeons that were destined for soup. Eric released them instead, giving them a chance to escape and live freely in the wild.
A language trickster, Gerard Herman has set a goal to visit every “Church Street” in Belgium by bike. Although this work is not yet finished, he only has 81 more Church Streets left to visit. If everything goes as planned, he will achieve his goal by 2020. The mini soccer table is entitled ‘Wet van Behoud van Ellende’ and is untranslatable. Sadly he could not join us for the opening as he had a bicycle repair exam.
Klara Hobza presents a praxinoscope, which depicts a man jumping through fire. Upstairs, she exhibits a framed paper airplane from the 2004 paper airplane contest that she organized in New York. Winning categories included: duration aloft, the biggest failure and beauty. Drawing is increasingly central to her artistic practice, which links pathos and heroism.
Bert Huyghe has been, obsessively, painting football shirts. Recently he began a series of painted representations of numbers, that refer to the, sometimes sickening desire for the unique and the singular. The objects are drawn deceptively simple and are deeply painterly.
Jean Katambayi Mukendi challenges the laws of physics, literally. In this video, he holds up a classic racing bike for five minutes, standing on a yellow carpet marking the passage of the 2015 Tour de France through Antwerp. According to Jean, one only really works when there is labour and movement of an object. He is also an electrician and gifted mathematician.
Ben Kaufmann ran a successful gallery in Berlin, was the director of the NAK in Aachen and is an accredited press photographer. He’s also a trained football coach. Recently he opened a cycle shop in Cologne, where he re-sells professional’s racing bikes. In this exhibition, he’s showing a number of photographs depicting sports fans in their element.
Filip Van Dingenen has made an intervention in our back garden. He photographed bas-reliefs, which are part of the façade of the Royal Union Saint-Gilloise’s art deco football stadium, by the Belgian sculptor Oscar de Clerck. He then projected lines and marks used by choreographers onto them. Upstairs, visitors may also play a memory game that Filip made during his Wiels residency.