The objects in Donckers’ pictures show themselves as traces, abandoned in mid-action, of urban and spatial struggle. Perhaps Belgians, and more specifically the Flemish, look at a cadastral plan as a necessary evil to stop private property from colonising the whole country, which in itself is difficult because it is not clear what ‘country’ means. They do know what ‘private’ means, however, and this shows in variations ranging from discrete marks to unashamedly questionable taste and private monumentality.
In the past, the regulating state authority was largely mute, and when its voice was expressed what came out was deaf howling, usually contributing to fragmentation, estrangement and a sense that the objects in the street have been placed with no regard for one another. How remarkable the difference with our northern neighbours, for example, who embrace common state regulations and direct verbal debate, where regulations are regarded as values for all, affecting what you can and cannot do in your own private house. Conversely, the Flemish allow private and local endeavours into the public or national sphere, which they often regard as a failure.
David Claerbout in: “The Camera that sits, arms crossed”, in: Niels Donckers, Sected Works 1992-2017, pg 11, De Garage 2017
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