Signature Strengths

Datum: 3 mei 2019

Locatie: Sint Lucas Antwerpen - Van Schoonbekestraat 143 - 2018 Antwerpen

Tijdstip: 15 uur

Promovendus: Boy Vereecken

Promotor: prof. dr. Luc Pauwels, Michel Van Beirendonck

Korte beschrijving: PhD defence Boy Vereecken - Antwerp Research Institute for the Arts

Everything starts with an allegorical skit about the ‘1900’ Art Nouveau style;

‘… Loos began his battle with Art Nouveau a decade before “Ornament and Crime.” A pointed attack comes in 1900, in the form of an allegorical skit about “a poor little rich man” who commissions an Art Nouveau designer to put “Art in each and every thing:” Each room formed a symphony of colours, complete in itself. Walls, wall coverings, furniture, and materials were made to harmonise in the most artful ways. Each household item its own specific place and was integrated with the others in the most wonderful combinations. The architect has forgotten nothing, absolutely nothing. Cigar ashtrays, cutlery, light switches – everything, everything was made by him. … This Gesamtkunstwerk does more than combine architecture, art, and craft; it commingles subject and object: “the individuality of the owner was expressed in every ornament, every form, every nail.” For the Art Nouveau designer this is perfection: “You are complete!” he exults to the owner. But the owner is not so sure: this completion “taxed [his] brain.” Rather than a sanctuary from modern stress, his Art Nouveau interior is another expression of it: “ The happy man suddenly felt deeply, deeply unhappy . . . He was precluded from all future living and striving, developing and desiring. He thought, this is what it means to learn to go about life with one’s own corps. Yes indeed. He is finished. He is complete!” … For the Art Nouveau designer this completion reunites art and life, and all signs of death are banished. For Loos, on the other hand, this triumphant overcoming of limits is a catastrophic loss of the same – the loss of the objective constraints required to define any “future living and striving, developing and desiring.” Far from a transcendence of death, this loss of finitude is a death-in life, as figured in the ultimate trope of in distinction, living “with one’s own corpse.”’

Hal Foster, Design and Crime (And Other Diatribes), Radical Thinkers, Verso Books 2002, pp. 13-5.

Boy Vereecken is an Art Director and Editorial Designer based in Brussels. After graduating from LUCA School of Arts in Ghent (M.A.) and the Werkplaats Typografie (M.A.) in Arnhem, he started his practice in Brussels. From 2012 till 2019 he held the position of Art Director at the Kunsthalle Wien, a position that was rewarded with the German Design Award in 2014. Recent projects include the Art Direction for the Tai Kwun Contemporary’s Hong Kong Art Book Fair and the Belgian Pavilion for the Venice Biennial 2019. In 2016 published Signature Strengths and in 2019 Herewith the Clues, both dealing around notions of publishing history. 


Individual PhD Commission (IPC)

  • Supervisor prof. dr. Luc Pauwels (Dept. of Communication Studies, University of Antwerp)
  • Supervisor Michel Van Beirendonck (Tutor Graphic Design, Sint Lucas Antwerpen)
  • Expert dr. Goran Petrović  (Research Affiliate at Ghent University and Assistant Professor at Sciences Po Paris)
  • Chair IPC prof. dr. Paolo Favero (Film Studies and Visual Culture, Dept. of Communication Studies, University of Antwerp)

External jury members

  • Laura Herman (Curator at La Loge, writer and editor, theory tutor at the Dept. of Contextual Design, Design Academy Eindhoven)
  • Sophie Nys (Visual artist, tutor at LUCA School of Arts)

Chair jury ARIA

  • Prof. dr. Bart Eeckhout (Dept. of Literature, University of Antwerp)

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