The museum Dhondt-Dhaenens (MDD) is since recently flanked by The Wunderkammer Residence, a project by artist Hans Op de Beeck, realized in collaboration with architect Mo Vandenberghe (studio MOTO). Op de Beeck transformed the former Villa Meander, a villa built at the beginning of the 1930,s, into a unique 'gesamtkunstwerk..’ The building is conceived as a contemporary 'wunderkammer' and houses the personal library collection of Jan Hoet (1936 - 2014) while also doubling as a residence for artists, curators, researchers and writers with an (inter) national, non-European focus. Set between the museum building from 1968, the historic Lys River and the former residence of Jules and Irma Dhondt-Dhaenens, the founders of the museum, The Wunderkammer aims to create a space for dialogue, reflection and research within the typical rural context of the museum.
Through Op de Beeck's intervention, the original 'cottage' villa has become a true work of art. The black envelope abstracts the original, almost kitschy 'cottage' villa into a plastic, monumental sculpture in the idyllic Lys landscape. In turn, the monochrome gray interior that has been staged as a fictional 'wunderkammer' invites amazement and introspection. In the library, which covers the four walls from floor to ceiling, various rarities in the form of sculptures form a theatrical, almost cinematic setting for the 'real' collection of books Jan Hoet. In this Wunderkammer the experience of the viewer is central. The artwork resolutely aims at an immersive experience in which both the exterior and the interior enter into a dialogue with the surrounding environment, the coincidental passer-by and the visitor/resident.
In addition to reflection on the museum, its collections and the landscape, the space is open to critical reflections on the resident's individual practice, the art world and broader social structures. With The Wunderkammer Residence, a second remarkable location for residences is created. A few years back, the Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens already started a first residency program in the Lys region. The Van Wassenhove residence, a striking Brutalist building from 1974 by architect Juliaan Lampens, located in Sint-Martens-Latem, has served as a lively residence and meeting place in the area since 2015.
With these new, autonomous free ports, the MDD wants to intensify its contact with artists and researchers and (re)activate the Lys region as a historically important source of inspiration for artists.
Library Jan Hoet
The library collection of Jan Hoet, acquired by the museum in (1936 is housed in The Wunderkammer Residence.
Hoet was not only an enthusiastic curator, but behind the scenes he was also a passionate and even avid book collector. Parallel to his international career, his library grew into an idiosyncratic and extremely personal collection consisting of roughly 4600 books. It goes without saying that Hoet has played a major role in the acceptance process of contemporary art in Belgium, which is also reflected in his library.
The management of this kind of book collection is in line with the museum policy that focuses on the making publicly accessible of, and research into, twentieth-century private art collections with a socially relevant identity in Flanders.
Research and accessibility of the library is currently a work in progress.
Hans Op de Beeck
The work of Hans Op de Beeck (1969, Turnhout, Belgium) is fueled by a great interest in social and culturalhistorical reflection. The artist also questions the difficult relationship between reality and representation, between what we see and what we want to believe, between what is and what we create for ourselves to alleviate our concerns regarding our own relativity and interchangeability. The visual output of this research often produces dormant, treacherous, melancholic or alienating images that lead the viewer into contemplation and introspection.
The Wunderkammer Residence is, aside from his projects on the abbey site of Herkenrode in Hasselt and in the Towada Art Center in Japan, the third permanent immersive installation by the artist. The artwork is part of a larger group of works (so-called 'Locations'), in which the artist manipulates scenes from everyday life, and renders them in large-scale, sculptural installations.
Studio MOTO is an architectural firm founded by the Liege-born and Eupen-raised Thomas Hick (1978) and Ghentian Mo Vandenberghe (1983). Both previously worked at the architectural firm Robbrecht and Daem. The pleasure of designing forms the base from which they explore the tension between the everyday and the adventurous. Their designs strive for subtlety and are fresh and seemingly simple. Their goal is not to make architectural statements, but to design, starting from an existing reality, well-thought out interventions that stand in dialogue with the spatial, cultural and historical context.
Exceptional thanks for their philanthropy and loyal support to the museum and the project The Wunderkammer Residence:
Het Uitvoerend Comité van het Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens
Frank Benijts, Marianne Hoe, Bie Hooft-De Smul, Jan Steyaert, Paul Thiers, Tanguy Van Quickenborne
Lieve Andries-Van Louwe, Frank Benijts, Stefaan en Isabelle Bettens-Moriaud, Stefan en Bénédicte De Bock-De Pauw, Peter en Isabelle De Roo, Bernard en Lena Dubois-François, Regine Dumolin, Galleria Continua, Galerie Ron Mandos, Michel Goreux en Ria Martens, Familie Jan Hoet, Marianne Hoet, Bie Hooft-De Smul, Karel en Martine Hooft, I.R.S.-Btech nv-sa, Carl en Ella Keirsmaekers, Rudy en Hilde Koch-Ockier, Carl en Dominique Krefting, Jean-Claude en Nicole Marian, Studio Hans Op de Beeck, Jan Steyaert, Paul Thiers, Yves en Isabelle Van Bavel-Van Hool, Tanguy Van Quickenborne, Leo en Diana Van Tuyckom-Taets, Marc Vandecandelaere, Bernard en Gonda Vergnes, Philippe en Ann Verlinden-Timmermans, Axel Vervoordt Gallery, Jacques en Marie Zucker, nonymous benefactors & Banque de Luxembourg