Tel: +32 475 21 19 09
About me, short and abstract
Ciel Grommen (1989) extended her training in architecture at the University of Leuven (2012) with a master in contemporary art at the HEAD in Geneva (2015). What follows is a trans-disciplinary practice, based on intense fieldwork, and playing with models, maps, furniture, constructions, and sharing stories ...
Works have been exhibited in Artsonje Art Centre, Seoul; Live In Your Head Gallery, Geneva; Zolder Luchtfabriek; Beursschouwburg Brussels; Z33, centre for contemporary art in Hasselt...
Works even more often appear in the "real" world, such as Petit Chateau, asylum centre in Brussels, in the post box of my neighbour, on the Aldi parking lot of Borgloon, online ...
On a freelance basis I worked for KULeuven; Z33, centre for contemporary art; Bozar and A+ architecture in Belgium; Bitbook publisher; Gijs Van Vaerenbergh; Ief Spincemaille; Dirk Claessen & Hedwig Snoeckx; ... and others.
About you, maybe
Don't hesitate to address me. It is necessary to get response, of any kind.
About my methodology, some key concepts
Research by habitation— research to places by inhabiting it: spending time, assuming a role, observing, exchanging, testing… I am inspired by fieldwork methodologies from urbanism and anthropology, with a special attention for interpersonal aspects.
Spaces of exception— after my thesis in a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan (in 2012), I developed a strong interest in places and societies with an exceptional ‘legal’ status. The laws, absurd bureaucracies and organizational frameworks have strong consequences for daily life and spatial development. How simple and very universal aspects of life unfold in space.
An artistic agenda— what I subsequently do can take up different forms: maps, images, but also furniture, installations/architecture or events. All are the result of an interaction and again a tool to continue the interaction. They aren’t art object with a sacral status, but rather tools or frameworks for experiences. All works have a strong social dimension, but it is different from social work in the ambition to be original and to make a symbolic gesture that questions our cultural history.
An art of addressing— Whom do I address? Even though this isn’t habitual in the field of art, I am always very conscious about whom I am addressing, about the context in which I work, in which things are introduced…. I like to introduce contrasts, I see the value of bringing people into contact with differences (be it symbolically, mentally or actually). In this way my work is said to be socially engaged.
About the trajectory of the works on this website
This website starts just after my master paper in architecture in a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan (2012). Living there for two months in a close relationship with the refugees, I became very aware of the paradoxes of our political world order made of nation states. Architecture didn’t seem to be the ideal response to this renewed consciousness and personal concern, so I searched and found a revitalizing freedom in the field of contemporary art.
The following years, I continued to research the theme of the ‘state of exception’ as a student of the HEAD, school of arts and design in Geneva: letters after my research in the camp, an art project on invitation on the DMZ, the border zone between North and South-Korea, a workshop with the research group of Bruno Latour “SPEAP” in the nuclear research centre CERN and a self-initiated residency and ‘public’ observatory in a container in the freeports of Geneva. The dissonances between academical theory and/or administrative realities on the one hand and the everyday life in place on the other hand inspired me a lot.
Returning to Belgium in 2015 and being confronted with the threat of terrorism, the emergency measurements and the ubiquity of refugees, I understood that the state of exception is everywhere at the moment. The anxious reactions of compatriots but also the hospitality of others, the changed streetscape of Brussels, my voluntary work in an asylum centre… many questions made me reach for literature about hospitality, made me draw speculations on habitation.
The concepts brought me to my former hometown, a small agricultural town, that drastically changed shape and demography because of the scaling of fruit market and the arrival of thousands of seasonal laborers from Eastern Europe. I set up "Seasonal Neighbours" (2016 - ...), a project to enter into contact with these people, and research how it is to experience home and identity in this temporary society.
The project is still ongoing and more and more talented people get involved. A fruitful collaboration with Maximiliaan Royakkers also extends beyond the borders of this project. Different projects are in the making (but not yet documented on this website.) It can be summarized as an inquiry into new cohabitational forms between living species of all kinds, and their architectural and habitual translations of course.