Constant Peers
Wondrous Experiences in ‘Montevideomagazijnen 2’*



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Wondrous Experiences in ‘Montevideomagazijnen 2’*

Montevideo was a space from June 1981 till the end of 1984 run by Annie Gentils and me. No additional attribute or definition was given to the name Montevideo. A non-profit organisation was launched. The vastness and height of the space offered irresistible possibilities and opportunities which where readily grasped by everybody who got involved and participated. Up to the point that some interested parties even threatened to bypass us and acquire the space for their project from the city itself.

Our interests in the various disciplines of art and cultural expression were reflected in the events we organised. At the end of 1982 almost the complete spectrum of the arts had passed the revue at a reckless speed. We could barely keep the pace, also financially, and after a year of exploration and events decided to turn our attention to large-scale sculpture exhibitions. The content and production could thus be better prepared and the shows could stay for as long as needed for a good exposure. Complete documentation of the exhibitions – including texts, background information, drawings and photographs of the works – was brought together each time in a catalogue.

Acclaimed art critic Wim van Mulders and Annie wrote in-depth analyses about the artists, how we can look at their works and situate their art. The pictures of the works in-situ, taken by Bernd Urban, Luc Van Baden, Jo Boey and myself, give a clear view of their texture and visual impact. As a trained graphic designer, I did most of the graphics and catalogue layouts myself. One catalogue cover, for ‘de eerste chauvinistische – la première chauviniste’ exhibition, was a funny silk-screened image by the artist Bruneau.

The time lapse between the opening and the release of the catalogue amounted to about one month. We sent invitations, posters and catalogues all over the world to critics and art institutions and of course also to the artists who had generously provided their work for the space.

Some of the artists, like Luc Deleu, invested heavily to realise their work in the space. It still amazes me how much support and help we received from all sides: official, informal and voluntary support from so many people, government agencies, organisations and companies. The success of Montevideo is truly also theirs.

Stan Constant Peers

*Late 19th century (1897) warehouse in the old port of Antwerp located at Kattendijkdok-Westkaai. The district where it is situated is called ‘t Eilandje (islet) and has been a derelict and dilapidated part of the city from the sixties till the early nineties. In 1990 the non-profit organisation called ‘Stad aan de stroom’ launched a contest for the urban development of ‘t Eilandje, which was won by architect Manuel de Solà-Morales. Only in this century has some progress been made in redeveloping it.

The warehouse Montevideomagazijnen 2 was divided in 11 sections with tall double doors on both sides. The inner walls could be removed so as to join adjacent spaces. The total length of the building is 124 m. The distance between the opposite doors is 62 m. The windows directed to the north helped to better conserve the wares once stocked there.

Montevideo got a license from the city (port) for section 3, 4 and 5 with a total surface of about 2.100 m². The license was revoked in December 1983, with the license to expire on the 31th December 1984. The port authorities stated that they were looking at the prospect of using the warehouse themselves. Other sections of the complex were used as studios by artists and a video production organisation. Their license was also voided at that time.

The complete warehouse stayed empty since the mid-1980s. Without maintenance, it soon fell apart and is almost completely dismantled with only the outside walls standing around the open space of 7.700 m². The private owner who bought it from the City of Antwerp is currently planning to redevelop this protected heritage (KB 29 May 2001).