Emmanuel Van der Auwera


Whether through filmmaking, VideoSculpture, theatre, printmaking, or other media, Emmanuel Van der Auwera takes us straight to the core of the image, questioning our visual literacy: How do images of contemporary mass media operate on various publics and to what end? How do existing codes and conventions shape the framing of events and their entry in our collective memory? While bringing us no closer to a monolithic truth, Van der Auwera constructs new paradigms for reading images and understanding our relationships with them. His fascination with the deconstruction of the technologies of seeing stems from his investigations into the ethics of the gaze. A turning point in his practice, in 2012, he started to make works that responded to what he saw as ‘a shift in paradigm’ fuelled by the growth of social media and to interrogate the relationship between the currency of the image and the ‘currency of emotions within the image’. In this new visual economy, the spectator has also become the spectacle, trading on the authenticity of their experience and our sublime fascination with things that terrify, disgust or enrapture us. His process of creating an engaging visual experience that pulls the viewer out of their passivity, demonstrates the risk of further transforming reality into a simulation. Following Susan Sontag, these representations ‘are a means of making ‘real’ (or ‘more real’) matters that the privileged and the merely safe might prefer to ignore. Van der Auwera’s work reflects upon these chains of production and consumption and the responsibility inherent in the act of seeing.


Van der Auwera is a 2015 laureate of the Higher Institute for Fine Arts (HISK) post-academic course in Ghent (BE), a 2015 Langui Award recipient of the Young Belgian Art Prize, and the first winner of the Goldwasserschenking awarded by WIELS and the Belgian Royal Museums of Fine Arts (BE). In 2021, he was a participant in the Nasher Prize Dialogues with Jacolby Satterwhite, Mika Rottenberg, Alice Rawsthorn and Randy Kennedy. 


His work has been acquired by the MAC's - The Wallonia-Brussels Federation Museum of Contemporary Arts (Grand-Hornu, BE), ARGOS - Centre for audiovisual arts (Brussels, BE), Musée d’Ixelles (Brussels, BE), Mu.ZEE (Ostend, BE), Collection de la Province de Hainaut - BPS22 (Charleroi, BE), KANAL - Centre Pompidou (Brussels, BE), KADIST (Paris, FR), Fundación Otazu (Pamplona, ES), the Stockholm School of Economics (Stockholm, SE), the Art Vontobel Collection (Zurich, CH), the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art (Eugene, OR, US) and Dallas Museum of Art (Dallas, TX, US).  In 2020, Yale University Press & Mercator Fonds published a monograph dedicated to his work. 


In 2023-2024, Van der Auwera's work is present in exhibitions at the Biennale internationale des arts numériques de la Région île-de-France (Paris, FR), Z33, House for Contemporary Art, Design & Architecture (Hasselt, BE), the Biennale de l’Image en Mouvement 2024 - BIM 24 (Geneva, CH), KW Institute for Contemporary Art (Berlin, DE), 8th Yokohama Triennale (Yokohama, JP), Kunsthal Charlottenborg (Copenhagen, DK), Kunstverein Hamburg (Hamburg, DE) and Deichtorhallen Hamburg (Hamburg, DE). Emmanuel Van der Auwera lives and works in Brussels, Belgium.