Natascha Drabbe, Amaryllis Jacobs, Jonas Vansteenkiste with Laurens Otto

Houses for art: how heritage homes interact with art and design

Natascha Drabbe, founding director of Iconic Houses Network, Amaryllis Jacobs from MANIERA, and artist Jonas Vansteenkiste discuss what’s at stake in organising art and design exhibitions in private heritage houses. The domestic floor plans of landmark architecture – particularly modernist architecture – challenge artists, designers, and curators into finding innovative ways to show artwork. How to bring them into constructive dialogue? How to ensure that the architecture becomes more than mere decor? The talk will be moderated by Laurens Otto.

Natascha Drabbe is Executive Director and Founder of the Iconic Houses Network. She graduated in the field of architectural history at Utrecht University, and has published, curated, lectured, and participated in design and architecture juries at home and abroad. Iconic Houses is the international non-profit network connecting architecturally significant houses and artists’ homes and studios from the 20th century that are open to the public.

Amaryllis Jacobs co-founded MANIERA with Kwinten Lavigne in 2014. MANIERA commissions architects and artists to develop furniture and objects for use. Architects often have a close relationship with the visual arts and artists are often inspired by the spatial environment. MANIERA crystallises these affinities into new design proposals. MANIERA also organises exhibitions in locations of architectural significance, including at Hôtel Wolfers, Brussels (2015), De Beir House (Knokke, 2020) and recently at Roelants House, Sint-Martens-Lennik. 

Jonas Vansteenkiste is a visual artist and curator who works with and around spaces. After studying Media Arts at the KASK, Ghent, he obtained a postgraduate degree in research in the arts at St-Lucas Antwerp. Since then, Vansteenkiste has been investigating mental and physical space in his work. The concept of ‘house/home’ is a motif in his oeuvre. In his recent project Membrane, he recently explored the architecture and stories of the former and current residents of Villa Gaverzicht in Waregem and the importance of modernist heritage.

Thomas Hirschhorn, Sophie Lauwers and Vera Michalski-Hoffmann

Words and deeds

Artist Thomas Hirschhorn, curator and exhibition organiser Sophie Lauwers, and philanthropist Vera Michalski-Hoffmann come together to discuss the challenges of keeping public art public. Hirschhorn is renowned for his numerous artworks in public space co-realised with the communities where the works were first located – such as Spinoza-Car (2009), currently on view at BOZAR in Brussels. The conversation, moderated by Antony Hudek, will broach such questions as: "How to maintain the collaborative spirit of works conceived in and for public space?" and "What role do private art foundations play in ensuring their long-term agency?"

Thomas Hirschhorn was born in 1957 in Bern. He studied at the Kunstgewerbeschule Zürich from 1978 to 1983, and moved to Paris in 1983 where he has been living since. His work is shown in numerous museums, galleries and exhibitions including the Venice Biennale (1999 and 2015), Documenta11 (2002), the 27th Sao Paolo Biennale (2006), 55th Carnegie International, Pittsburg (2008), Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens (2010) and the Swiss Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale (2011). With each exhibition in museums, galleries and alternative spaces, and in his 70 works in public space, Hirschhorn asserts his commitment toward a non-exclusive public. 

Sophie L. Lauwers was born in Halle in 1966, and studied history at VUB in Brussels and ballet in Antwerp. Since 2011 she has been Director of Exhibitions BOZAR and member of its Executive Committee. Between 2002 and 2011 she was Exhibition Coordinator at BOZAR. Lauwers is highly engaged in supporting contemporary visual culture in Belgium, notably through her role on boards and committees, among them of Établissement d'en face, Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens and Auguste Orts.

Vera Michalski-Hoffmann, after studying political science in Geneva, founded Éditions Noir sur Blanc with her Polish husband Jan Michalski in 1987 to build bridges between the cultures and peoples of Europe by publishing authors in French and Polish. In 2004, she created the Jan Michalski Foundation for Writing and Literature in Montricher, at the foot of the Swiss Jura, with the mission of supporting literary creation and encouraging the practice of reading. Among its many activities, the Jan Michalski Foundation organises and funds exhibitions, cultural events, writers’ residencies and an annual prize for world literature. 

MDD Talks #3 - Towards a phyFrederik De Wilde, Axel Clissen & Marjan Doom with Janus Boudewijnsgital museum?

Towards a Phygital Museum?

Physical exhibition spaces, heritage and artworks are increasingly reproduced and consumed digitally. What is the potential of digital exhibitions and how digital can we go?

In this free talk featuring Frederik De Wilde (artist), Axel Clissen (architect) and Marjan Doom (director Ghent University Museum) we explore the limits and possibilities of the digital experience and its influence on the physical experience of museums, collections and culture. Moderated by Jan(us) Boudewijns (MDD).

Artist Frederik De Wilde studied fine arts, media arts and philosophy. His artistic praxis situates itself on the interstice of art-science-technology and design. De Wilde critically examines the radical shifts technology imposes on society and our

Axel Clissen is a Belgian architect, designer & educator and founding partner of New York & Brussels based architecture practice Socle. The studio is well-versed in arts & culture, pursues luxury in density and explores physical & digital immersive experiences.

As a veterinarian, Marjan Doom (UGent) conducted research on the anatomy of the circulatory system. Today, as director of the Gent University Museum, she explores the language between science, art and society.

Heidi Ballet, Chantal Pattyn & Steven van Teeseling with Laurens Otto

Resilient Biennials

The expansionist Biennial model is increasingly coming under pressure. The current pandemic has made considerations of locality and sustainability not only urgent but also inescapable. How do Belgian and Dutch Biennales, Triennials and arts festivals respond to these developments? A conversation with Heidi Ballet (curator of the Beaufort Triennial), Chantal Pattyn (curator of the Watou Arts Festival) and Steven van Teeseling (general director of the Sonsbeek Foundation), moderated by Laurens Otto (curator MDD).

Heidi Ballet is curator of the 2021 Beaufort Triennial as well as of the 2018 edition. Based in Berlin, she is a curator at deSingel in Antwerp. Previous projects include the 2019 Tallinn Photomonth Biennial and the 2017 Lofoten Biennial (LIAF). Beaufort 2021 will take place on the Belgian coast from 27 May to 7 September.
Chantal Pattyn is curator of the Watou Arts Festival in 2021 together with Benedicte Goesaert and Peter Verhelst. Pattyn is the broadcast manager of Klara and presenter of the art programme Pompidou. The 40th edition of the Watou Arts Festival will take place from 3 July to 5 September around Poperinge.
Steven van Teeseling is general director of the Sonsbeek Foundation and responsible for the overall strategic, artistic and business management of the Foundation. Previously, van Teeseling was head of innovation and communication at the Mondriaan Fund. The 12thedition of Sonsbeek will take place from 10 April to 21 June in Arnhem and beyond.


Luc Keppens & Marc Noppen with Ann Overbergh

What world after the pandemic?

Luc Keppens and Marc Noppen discuss some of the short- and long-term effects of the corona pandemic on culture and other spheres, in a conversation moderated by Ann Overbergh.

The talk takes as its starting point Keppens’ recent book Vaccins in voorbereiding: Welke wereld na de pandemie? in which he addresses some of the changes, adaptations and adjustments imposed on our post-covid condition.

Luc Keppens has held leading positions in the banking sector and is committed to several cultural institutions and social projects. His book Vaccins in voorbereiding was born out of concerns for the virus’s impact on the social fabric and inclusiveness.

Prof. Dr. Marc Noppen is CEO of the University Hospital Brussels in Jette, Brussels, a position he has held since 2006. As part of his research, he has taught at numerous prestigious faculties in the US, Canada, France and Australia.

Ann Overbergh is general director of Flanders Arts Institute since 2019. She was a member of the College of Presidents within the current Arts Decree, a member of the editorial staff of the culture magazine rekto:verso, and a staff member of BAM, the predecessor of Flanders Arts Institute.

Chris Dercon & Philip Van den Bossche with Kathleen Weyts


Chris Dercon and Philip Van den Bossche discuss the role of visual culture and the position of art institutions within national and international contexts. Moderated by Kathleen Weyts, director of HART magazine.

Chris Dercon is the director of the Grand Palais (Paris). He has been the director of art institutions such as the former Witte de With (Rotterdam), Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (Rotterdam), Haus der Kunst (Munich), Tate Modern (London) and the Berlin Volksbühne Theater.

Philip Van den Bossche is a curator and writer working in Belgium and Morocco. From 2001 to 2007 he was curator at the Van Abbemuseum (Eindhoven) and director of Mu.ZEE (Ostend) from 2007 to 2019.

Kathleen Weyts is director of HART, the Belgian monthly magazine for contemporary art, since 2019.

Edith Doove & Frank Benijts with Janus Boudewijns


With the start of the first phase of the renovation of the museum in January, Edith Doove and Frank Benijts look back and ahead to the future of MDD. Moderated by Jan(us) Boudewijns, MDD's collection manager.

Dr. Edith Doove, curator, writer and researcher, was MDD's curator-director between 1999 and 2004.

Frank Benijts has been a member of the MDD Board of Directors since 1980 and was chairman between 1989 and 2001.

Oscar van den Boogaard with Laurens Otto


Van den Boogaard discusses authorship, the blurring of fact and fiction, and his life in Sint-Martens-Latem with MDD curator Laurens Otto.

Oscar Van den Boogaard is the author of several novels such as Jachthuis (De Bezige Bij, 2020) and stars in the TV-show Latem Leven. For the publication Prelude: Melancholy of the Future, he revisits his time in Villa Arca, in MDD’s immediate vicinity.

d-artagnan | all for advertising