A Family Project
AP: The challenge in a project like this is not to fetishize the artist, but to activate them. I do not approach Constant from the art historical perspective, where you distance yourself and see the artist as a phenomenon. I try to penetrate Constants’ practice and understand the core. I then enter into a dialogue based on my own practice.
AJG: For me, this project is also the unknown vs known. On the one hand, the well-known academic setting, working with Zippora, Antonis and curator Hilde de Bruijn. And on the other side, the unknown, the relationship with Kim from Fondation Constant. This allowed me to almost feel Constant at times. Constant to me is a kind of a pantheon of childhood heroes like: Spiderman, Super Man, Hans Solo, Ché Guevara, on a level with John Lennon and Jimmy Hendrix.
ZE: What is it like to relate to that?
AJG: It was an unknown investigation for me, that personal connection, being able to visit the house, the intimacy of the family relationship. That’s how I got inside his world. It almost feels like a family project.
Kim van der Horst (KvdH): That is actually a challenge for me, as an estate manager. As a family, my mother and I are never objective, so the question is always whether you have enough voices around you to counterbalance that subjectivity.
ZE: You are of course a private foundation, but objectivity is not guaranteed with public institutions either.
KvdH: It’s about the stories for me; I want to invite as many perspectives as possible; the anecdotes you know, the history you gradually discover and the new stories that arise in the dialogue between Constant’s work and that of contemporary makers. I am also aware of the fact that, as an estate manager, I am the last generation to have known Constant personally. This has the advantage of the personal approach, but you also have to watch out for the bias it carries.
AP: I study modernism and came across Constant as a present. Through the relationship with Kim and Trudy, the human aspect was introduced. Of course, you always see that aspect in the work. It can never be completely separated from each other, but the contact with the foundation made it more tangible and exciting.
ZE: This was also a reason for me to join the Constant 101 project as a curator-at-large. I am also an art historian and then you can suddenly walk around Constant’s house and meet his wife. You suddenly get so close to the stories, you get to see what kind of person he was. As a curator you are naturally interested in the artist’s practice, but that personal element does add something.
For Constant 101, we went in search of various artist practices, institutes and disciplines to help us look to the future. In order to collect different perspectives, but also to reflect on such a canonical artist, can we escape the narrative of the canon and give space to the homo ludens?