Con Alma

Hybrid Art Fair, February 25-28 – 2022, Madrid (SP)

The Hybrid Art Fair invited EX-MÊKH to take part in their 2022 edition with the words “I was impressed by EX-MÊKH. In particular, how you develop a relationship with the spaces is remarkably in line with what I (and our collectors) are looking for“. We were already contemplating the possibility to apply because we always look for a different public. After this invitation we decided to participate. The Hybrid Art Fair is a special kind of art-fair, organized in a hotel in the centre of Madrid. It expects galleries and platforms to present their artists in a hotel room. This is a challenge but it is also an exciting idea. It made EX-MÊKH’s artists think about the neutral character of such a room and how it becomes personalized by guests.

The entering a room, opening your luggage and putting stuff in the bath room and the wardrobe, trying out the TV and checking the Wi-Fi is a ritual we all know. It is a kind of theatre as is the coming and going of guests. Out of this our idea evolved to interpret our stay in the room as a kind of drama for which we would provide the props.

Maarten Schepers built an intervention with the wooden cases and materials he took with him. As a bearer of all this he used the folding beds on one wall. It resulted in a dramatic element in the room. He also put two enigmatic sculptures on the side of the installation of Ellen on the bed, two watchmen taking care of her work.

Ellen Rodenberg covered the double bed with long strips of cardboard on which she painted colorful signs. They could be read as the hopes and fears that make up your personality which you take with you when you travel. These are the images that often occur in your dreams. Ellen interviewed the public about what they saw in it and the answers were often surprising.

Kees Koomen interpreted the hotelroom as a save-haven amidst the new impressions that overwhelm the traveler. A space in which he can reflect on what happens outside and in which he can show his vulnerability as an artist. To illustrate this he put a life size torn up naked selfportrait of himself on the wall in the bathroom. It looked like a ghost looking for his persona. This persona was partly shown in his Madrid-Diary: every day he made notes and created “Shards” from them. These are torn brown pieces of packing paper which he painted white. The notes were written with charcoal in the wet paint and the shards were put on the wall in our room each day.

Along with this we presented small works, paintings and sculptures to give the installations a context. We had the soul of EX-MÊKH take over the room. The whole idea of a theatre play for which the room was the stage worked very well when the public started entering. In it dialogues of the interaction of artists and the public evolved. Without doubt the Socratic dialogues between Ellen Rodenberg and the public were very interesting.

The second day of the fair the war in Ukraine started and the pieces got an extra meaning. Interpretations of Maarten’s intervention got apocalyptic and his minimalistic sculptures looked like helmets to put on. The pieces of body in the bathroom were showing the all the more torn mind when showing art in times of war.