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Ben Van den Berghe (*1985) lives and works in Antwerp. He studied Photography in Caracas, Venezuela (2003-2004) and Visual Arts at the Hochschule für Gestaltung 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 (class of 2014). He was a resident at Apartman Projesi, Istanbul, Turkey (2015) and CCA Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, Poland (2016).
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; Bundeskunsthalle Bonn; De Studio; CCBerchem and FOMU in Antwerp and Frontviews gallery in Berlin.
Besides his own artistic practice Van den Berghe founded the temporary project-spaces Nogallery (2006) and ConflictRoom (2008) in Antwerp and co-founded Time To Meet (2009): an international network of artists dedicated to the investigation of photographic practice and was the co-artistic director of the photofestival Sugary Photographs with Tricks, Poses and Effects (2010). He co-founded Midnight Coffee Preview, a nomadic platform for newly and previously unexhibited artworks (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 which also commissioned and produced new lighting designs with contemporary artists, presented in the exhibition Reflector - Artist Editions by Nate Lights 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.
Since 2016, Ben Van den Berghe and Alexey Shlyk maintain a collaborative artistic practice that explores the transformative ability of photography as optical architecture. Their collaborative practice started with the project ‘The Plastic Number’ (2017), which was presented at KRIEG, Hasselt. An eponymous publication was produced. 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 and ‘Private Eden’ at Art Brussels (2018) and later at CC Hasselt (2019).
The artists experiment with monumentally scaled photography, addressing the trompe-l’oeil tradition through collages of found footage, 3D rendered images, digital photography 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.