The long-term research project of NP3
From September 17th until November 27th 1994, the S.M.A.K. in Ghent organized the exhibition This is the show and the show is many things. The exhibition took place in the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent, because at the time the S.M.A.K. did not have it’s own location.
Curator Bart de Baere, using the text ‘Moods and Modes’ as a first building block, invited 13 ‘upcoming’ and ‘famous’ artists to take part. Besides the artists Mark Manders, Louise Bourgeois†, Jason Rhoades†, Henrietta Lehtonen, Eran Schaerf, Uri Tzaig, Claire Roudenko-Bertin, Luc Tuymans, Anne Decock, Suchan Kinoshita, Honoré d’O, Fabrice Hybert en Maria Roosen, critics and visitors also became part of the whole process. Over the course of two months the artists were working, discussing and presenting in the various galleries of the museum. The homonymous catalogue ‘This is the show…’ became, in both literal and figurative sense, part of the artistic process; there was space for the moment, the processes and developments.
With this remarkable exhibition This is the show and the show is many things, the concept as envisioned by Bart de Baere was to reverse the ‘closed’ museum walls; he opened the museum up for the development and presentations of new artistic flows and processes. Bart de Baere launched a concept that pried open the perched frames and conventions of museological guidelines for exhibitions. He literally brought the artist, his studio and the artistic process into the museum and there the exhibition unfolded itself and grew right in the midst of it. Here, the visitor also had an active role and was positioned in the middle of the artistic process. In a very direct way they become acquainted with the artists and saw the work originate or transform, guided by their own perception. The exhibition was never formally opened; on September 17th 1994 the start of the project was announced, and became accessible for the public from then on.
Only the press was inquired about the start of this exhibition by means of a press release. Starting from the first day, the first weeks and even years afterwards This is the show became the subject of many reviews in various magazines, papers and newspapers and was complimented as well as criticized for it’s ‘unconventional’ assembly and execution. This project caused a lot of controversy in the Arts Scene, has been an inspiration to many a curator or artist and in it’s wake possibly even influenced the initiation of new, following projects, exhibitions and forms of presentation. Which makes it all the more surprising to NP3, that only little concrete information can be found on the WHY, WHAT and HOW of This is the show and the show is many things. This is the reason why This is the show has become an intangible, elusive art myth. With each question that was answered, new questions arose; a perfect chance to devote an intensive research to this special exhibition.