INSIGHTS | Conversation with artist Valérian Goalec (Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles)

Since 2012, the General Administration of Culture of the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles has had a booth at Art Brussels. The presence of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation at the fair is meant to contribute to the dissemination of the work of its artists, both nationally and internationally. The winners of the open call for participation in Art Brussels 2020 are artist Valérian Goalec and curator Maud Salembier. They are presenting My, Our, Your, a project that proposes an exploration of proxemics as a process of being with others, through touch, sight, smell or sound. As part of Art Brussels Insights, we spoke with Valérian Goalec about the project.

Conversation with Valérian Goalec
And Louis-Philippe Van Eeckhoutte

 You will have a solo presentation at Art Brussels 2020 with the Wallonia-Brussels Federation. Can you give us some insight into the presentation?
The project designed for Art Brussels takes into account the labyrinthine and standardized aspect of art fairs. The project intends to observe the proxemics as a process of being-with-others, by touch, sight, smell or even sound. The visitors activate the existing fluxes into an imperceptible loop: traces of newspaper ink on the hands, blending with those placed on the copper bar and with the hydro-alcoholic gel distributed in vials to be activated. The installation is to be understood in relation to the paradoxes between the natural and the artificial, the industrial and the artisanal, the living and the sanitized, the organic and the mechanical.

What would you say is Belgium’s main appeal for creatives?
The networks of Belgian companies and craftsmen are very interesting. Most are open to working with and welcoming artists and their projects, which is not always the case elsewhere in Europe. There are still a lot of traditional companies. I am thinking of Belgian enamelling, for example, which produces small series for artists. What immediately attracted me to Brussels was its human scale. This quickly allows you to be connected through several cultural points and to create a very rich network. Both the numbers of artists and of old and emerging places for art demonstrate the great artistic activity in Belgium.

What does a day in the studio look like for you?
The first thing I do is prepare a coffee, and then I start to organize my day. I respond to emails, and then I draw, in the form of taking notes. I have a large number of notebooks which constantly mix several ideas in progress. I work to a rhythm at the studio. Sometimes I take a meditative nap after eating, as it is often by closing my eyes that ideas come together and find directions. I also spend a lot of time making models in different scales. My day at the workshop ends with tidying it up to prepare for the next day. I hate disorder, as when the studio is in order, my ideas are clearer.

What does being part of Art Brussels mean to you?
After nine years in Brussels, it is a consecration and a great opportunity to present my work at Art Brussels. It will be a perfect artistic synthesis of all these years. This project is the culmination of experiments and research. The collaboration with Maud Salembier, curator for the exhibition of the Wallonia Brussels Federation booth, helped me a lot to develop my ideas and to take the project further, with greater ambition and strength.

What projects are coming up for you?
I am currently a resident at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, for a period of approximately six months. My project here mainly focuses on architecture and should lead to an exhibition and a book in 2020. For the second half of the year, curator Christophe Veys offered me an exhibition in a new space which opened in the École supérieure des Arts in Mons. Finally, in collaboration with Alexis Jacob, I am working on Volume 3 of my Elements book series, which should be available in early summer 2020.


1. My, Our, Your, 2019, Colour photographic impression on blue-black, 100 x 70cm, Installation poster for Art Brussels 2020, Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles. 
2. Portrait of Valérian Goalec. Photography: Francesco De Prezzo
3. Untitled Portrait 1, 2017, electro-galvanized steel, found objects, 15 x 169 x 24 cm

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