Ben Van den Berghe (*1985) lives and works in Antwerp. He studied Photography at the Cristóbal Rojas Institute in Caracas, Venezuela (2003-2004) and Visual Arts at the HfG Offenbach am Main, Germany (2007). He holds a MA in Visual Arts, St. Lucas Antwerp (2008) and is a laureate of the Higher Institute for Fine Arts in Ghent (2014).
His artistic practice originates from a strong interest in the ways individuals and society at large give meaning and structure to life through religion, traditions or psychology, often resulting in multi-media installations. Gaining or losing control over one’s mind and body and the desire to escape reality, is a recurring subject in his work. There is a thin line between creating and curating as the artist does not only produce images, but also assembles and shapes them into exhibitions, publications and collaborative projects.
Van den Berghe had solo exhibitions a.o. at De Nederlandse Bank, Amsterdam; Studio MDM, Warsaw; KRIEG, Hasselt (BE); International Photo Festival, Knokke (BE); VIP Lounge, Art Brussels; Mikro Projektraum, Düsseldorf; Emely, Sint-Martens-Latem (BE); Bar Nadar and CASSTL in Antwerp and was part of numerous national and international exhibitions including: Julia Stoschek Collection, Düsseldorf; Untitled, Miami (US); RHoK and Bâtiment Vanderborght, Brussels; CC Hasselt (BE); Corridor Project Space and de Brakke Grond, Amsterdam; CC Zwaneberg, Heist-op-den-Berg (BE); HISK, Ghent (BE); Raketenstation Hombroich, Neuss (DE); PhotoBiennale PhB, Thessaloniki (GR); The Collective, Durban (SA); Voorkamer, Lier; Ringling, Sarasota (USA); Galleri NON, Istanbul; Texture Museum, Kortrijk; Bundeskunsthalle Bonn; De Studio; CCBerchem and FOMU in Antwerp and Frontviews gallery in Berlin. He was a resident at Apartman Projesi, Istanbul, Turkey (2015) and CCA Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, Poland (2016).
He founded Nogallery (2006) and ConflictRoom (2008), two project-spaces in Antwerp and co-founded Time To Meet (2009): an international network of artists/photographers as the co-artistic director of the festival Sugary Photographs with Tricks, Poses and Effects (2010). He worked as an assistant for Geert Goiris (2008-2011) and commissioned photographer for Rinus Van de Velde (2011-2013). He co-founded Midnight Coffee Preview (2011–2013) and curated a number of exhibitions including Jesters/Gestures at RHoK, Brussels (2010), Potemkin Village, Novylon at Antwerp (2010), How To Stay Awake at Novylon, Antwerp (2011), Edi Winarni: Dorner/Lissitzky at Sint Lucas, Antwerp (2013). He was the co-founder of Nate Lights (2014-2019), an online gallery for Mid Century Modern lighting design and Artist Editions, presented in the exhibition Reflector at Plus One Gallery in Antwerp (2016). He is the co-founder of the photo-studio We Document Art, specialized in reproductions of artworks and documentation of exhibitions in Europe since 2010.
BEN VAN DEN BERGHE AND ALEXEY SHLYK
Since 2016, Ben Van den Berghe and Alexey Shlyk (°1986, Belarus, lives and works in Antwerp) maintain a collaborative artistic practice that explores the transformative ability of photography as optical architecture. The artists experiment with monumentally scaled photography, addressing the trompe-l’oeil tradition through collages of digital photography, found footage, 3D rendered images and pixel-software. Their work often revolves around tensions between controlled and uncontrollable environments. The preoccupation with architecture and a shared background in photography launched a collaborative investigation into photographic architecture asking how it can generate immersive experiences. This led them to investigate decisive modernist authors such as the Dutch monk and architect Dom Hans Van der Laan and Mexican architect Luis Barragan. The artists navigate a space between the modernist paradigm of hygiene and self-control, and the contemporary Private Eden: an escapist virtual space where we surrender. In their work, physical transformations of the space are achieved through computer generated image environments (3D renders) which become physical (in the form of monumental wallpaper prints), or as the continuation of the image into the exhibition space (wallpapers with calculated perspective, water on the floor extending the image, marble bar sculpture juxtaposed to facsimile images of its surface). A constant theme throughout the work is crossing the border where image ends and reality begins, the breaking of the fourth wall.
Their collaborative practice started with ‘The Plastic Number’ (2017), which was presented at KRIEG, Hasselt. Later that year they won the “Art Contest” in Brussels with their photographic installation ‘San Cristobal’ (2017). They continued to develop large photographic installations such as 'Freak Wave Platform’ (2018) in Mexico City, ‘Private Eden’ at Art Brussels (2018), CC Hasselt (2019) and Texture Kortrijk (2021) and their latest project Swan Song — Virtual Escape at GALLERY GALLERY in Antwerp (2021).