Ciel Grommen (1989) extended her training in architecture at the University of Leuven (2012) with a master in contemporary art at the HEAD in Geneva (2015). What follows is a trans-disciplinary practice, based on intense fieldwork in well-defined contexts, academic research and collaborations with a close network of people and institutions. With models, maps, furniture, installations, events and stories, this art practice tries to invent new narratives of co-habitation.
Works have been exhibited in C-mine Genk; Artsonje Art Centre, Seoul; Live In Your Head Gallery, Geneva; Z33, centre for contemporary art, Hasselt; Vai, Antwerp; Red Cross Museum, Geneva...
Works even more often appear in the "real" world, such as an asylum centre in Brussels, the post box of a neighbour, the parking lot ofAldi market Borgloon, at the foot of the terril of Winterslag...
At this moment I am elaborating this practice in a pHd at LUCA school of arts (Ghent), in the research cluster Art, Pedagogy and Society.
In the past I have been working on a freelance basis for KULeuven architecture department, Z33, Bozar and A+ architecture in Belgium, Bitbook publisher, Gijs Van Vaerenbergh, Ief Spincemaille, Dirk Claessen & Hedwig Snoeckx ...
What does it mean to inhabit a space nowadays? — I mean a physical space, like for instance a camp, a neighbourhood, a farm, a region, a care centre… We are living in an era characterised by acceleration, digitalisation, migration, climate change and a diversifying society. All this puts challenges to traditional ways of living and belonging. I am interested in new notions of co-habitation .
Research by habitation— By inhabiting different spaces myself and inviting others to do the same, I try to deal with this question. By habitation I mean: spending a lot of time somewhere, inventing a role for oneself, setting up an activity, entering into relation with other inhabitants...
Collaboration— As much as I like the interaction with local inhabitants and experts, I cherish the value of collaborating with other artists and designers. The last years collaboration has been particularly fruitful with Maximiliaan Royakkers, Maxime Brygo, Dieter Leyssen, Clementine Vaultier, Claire Chassot, Jonathan De Maeyer, Anastasia Eggers, Ioana Lupascu, Mona Thijs, Dallas, Ewoud Vermote, Ines Marita, Yacinth Pos, Karolina Michalik, Ode Windels, Pia Jacques …
Critical spaces — The kind of spaces I prefer to work on are spaces where notions of domesticity and ownership are particularly challenged. The early years I have mainly been working on ‘spaces of exception’ —as described by the political philosopher Giorgio Agamben—: Husn refugee camps in Jordan, the demiliterised Korean border zone, Geneva’s freeports and warehouses... More recently this focus moved to industrial and post-industrial landscapes, like agricultural towns in Western Europe, Stellantis Factory Valenciennes and C-mine, the former coalmine site of Winterslag.
A temporary interruption or in-between space — My practice aims at the design of a temporary interruption in this context, an experimental space and time where contrasting visions can meet. The practice is something between architecture, performance and social practice. The ambition is to make an original and symbolic gesture that goes beyond a particular context and that relates to our cultural history at large.
Expo and publications — Sketches, traces or reflections from these in situ interventions are shown in exhibitions or publications. The works take the form of maps, images, (activated) installations, lectures ... They aren’t art objects with a sacral status, but rather tools or frameworks for storytelling and interrogations.
Seasonal Neighbours , on cohabitation and seasonality on Europe’s countryside︎︎︎
Areaal, on art projects in rural space, led by Plan B︎︎︎
Veldwerkers, on the future for the terril of Winterslag, led by C-mine Cultural Centre