Residency: 03.10 - 24.10 Vernissage: 25.10 Expo: 26.10 - 10.11
KOP Artspace // Amerikalei 128 // 2000 Antwerpen

Today, KOP is sailing away. We’re leaving our safe haven on the Amerikalei to take a little boat trip from the right bank to the left, together with artists Zena Van den Block and Ramiro De Backer Mezquida. And while we’re all trying to survive on this savage river, we’re also trying to figure out what their plans are, since they’re working on an exhibition together.
Although Zena and Ramiro are both sculptors, their work isn’t all about sculpting. They experiment with a lot of different art forms, because they believe that “the idea of an artwork transcends the medium in which it is captured”.

Zena and Ramiro, you’re both sculptors. How would you describe your style?

Zena: I have a bachelor degree in photography and a master degree in sculpture. I want to be able to tell a story in many different ways. I don’t believe in one certain way of working. If it comes from within you, your style will present itself to you.


Was it difficult to change your way of working?

Zena: There are people who solely paint, sculpture or make photographs, and that’s fine. But for me, it’s important to do many different things. It always begins with a certain idea. On the other hand, the material you work with is defines the result. Materials also carry certain emotions and connotations within itself. So the material has to correspond with your idea, in order to translate that idea into your work, in the most meaningful way.


What do you like most about your work?

Ramiro: I love to watch and study different forms and shapes. They always result from the way a certain type of material behaves itself. Therefore, in my work, I work with a lot of different materials to enlarge shapes and forms into contemporary designs.
Zena: I find art the perfect reason to discover new places or unfold familiar things. Photography, for example, provides a good reason to visit new places which wouldn’t interest you otherwise.


“I used to think my work had to be universal, and understood by as many people as possible. But my way of thinking has changed.”


What are your biggest challenges as a sculptor?

Zena: I find it challenging to look for the right materials that fit the idea of the end goal. I used to think my work had to be universal, to be understood by as many people as possible. But my way of thinking has changed; my truth doesn’t have to be the same as yours. It’s already an accomplishment to let people think in another way, through your work.
Ramiro: If you go back in time, you can distinguish different lines in art. They’re all about what is happening at that certain period in history. I find it difficult to search for the cultural relevance of our time. Is it still going to be relevant in 20 years? Furthermore, as an artist, you have to seek for renewal before it is ‘a thing’.


Let’s talk about money. How important is the budget you have to work with?

Ramiro: Your working budget very often defines your work. With a big budget, you can do different things, like working with other materials. But the budget doesn’t define your creativity though.
Zena: If you’re used to work with a small budget, and suddenly there’s a large budget available, it sometimes can be paralysing. You end up with so many options, which makes it difficult to choose. I like to work with cheap materials and make something nice out of it.


“I hate it when people pretend art is the only thing that matters in the world.”


What would your dream project look like?

Zena: I would love to design a record cover. I hope someone will ask me to do that one day.
Ramiro: I would like to make more music.


It’s a match! How does your work complement each other?

Zena: We were studying together at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. Even then, we shared the same point of view.
Ramiro: We also share the same sobriety. We can laugh with each other, and with ourselves.
Zena: In our work, we like to play. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. Art is not the only thing that matters in the world we’re living in. I hate it when people pretend it is. Art is a playground, it’s like a kid who started crafting, and never stopped.


What can people expect from your collaboration?

Ramiro: There will be some kitschy cultural references. That’s what defines our work. Just like the contradictions between what is real and what is not. But most of all, we’re going to pull things open and learn from one another.
Zena: By working together, you’re being pushed. But is also feels safe in a certain way. If it all goes wrong, you’re not the only one to blame, haha.
Ramiro: If you work alone, you play alone. But if you work together, you also play together. And playing together is always nicer, isn’t it?


Let’s find out in the Artspace of KOP, during the expo CURIOSITY KILLED THE CAT.