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Coffee Break
Photo by archive Daniela Zangrando
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Coffee break #0

28.03.2014 by Daniela Zangrando

The numerous facets of alpinism, that go beyond mountaineering, encountered when you lease expect it. The first act by Daniela Zangrando with her Coffee break, a space to let thoughts and fantasies fluctuate within these free moments of rest.

Capable of getting up at dawn to explore his own village. Imagine him like this. Who? - you ask. Quite rightly so. Otherwise I'd indulge in questions about alpinism, and we'd lose the thread.

I'm talking about Jan Hoet. I simply have to start by talking about him. He's not an alpinist you say? A far too simple objection, if with the term alpinist you mean someone who takes to the mountains. Who climbs. Who masters grades and summits. Who knows how to tie a knot.

Jan Hoet. Yes. The man himself. The great art curator. A life devoted to art. In Belgium. And in Belgium there are no major mountains to be climbed. No peaks to breach. Nothing could be more true. And yet Jan knows all about mountaineering. Knows isn't a mistake. Knows about alpinism. Knows about the mountains. Feels them, just like he feels the crease of those monotonous trousers he insisted on wearing. The mountains are absorbed. His. Epidermal. He also knows the pleasure of the crunch of frozen snow beneath his boots, there can be no doubt about it. He mingles with people of all ages. From all over the world. But knows about the solitude of an ascent, and it's importance and need. He knows the rugged features of those who, like him, want, want and want again, so much so until they cheat. He knows how a glance, immersed in the unreal light of the blades, can burn. He knows what a challenge is. About resistance.

Continue to shake your heads, but how else could you call someone who sells a family painting only to rustle up some cash for an expedition? Is it so fundamental that that expedition is in fact a great exhibition? Think about it for a minute and you won't be able to remain stubbornly true to a bigoted yes. How else could you explain those who wait for years, in the hope of shaking the bureaucratic red tape to get there, right there? Those who relentlessly train the arduous task of convincing others in believing a certain credo. Those who bend over backwards to embark on a new adventure. Those who go from door to door, utterly convinced that famous art is nothing but an instrument, a proposition. Those who stand by their belief until a TV network devotes an entire day to an important inauguration. Those who dream about and achieve bizarre fireworks, before the lights fade away.

Jan followed the Ronde of Flanders, year in year out, on his bike but this is of very little importance here maybe. Jan wasn't a great sportsman. But you'll no doubt agree that he was either crazy, or a leader. Nothing unlike the purest form of alpinism is what flickered within his nervousness, in his absence of peace. The ferocious membrane of his thoughts preserved the flight of an never-satiated craving. The attention to verticality. The vaulting of a hand through the air intent on tracing a line.

Is this still not enough? You want more proof. How do I know that Jan is a mountaineer? He probably never found himself above a blanket of snow. But he knows that, in spite of the early arrival of spring marmots still sleep, buried beneath metres of snow. He imagines deer's hunger. The cunning fox's chase. The squirrel's nest. Above all though, his head of ants and earthworms doesn't ignore what is going on beneath the frozen earth. He races to the badger's branched den. One level deeper. The temperature is low. Beats are reduced to a minimum. Breathing can barely be perceived. Only the toads have already begun to migrate, but that's another story.

by Daniela Zangrando


Jan Hoet
(1936-2014) was a highly regarded curator of modern art. A former boxer, he studied art and burst onto the international scene with famous exhibitions such as Chambres D’Amis, Documenta IX, Rendez (-) Vous, Over The Edges, Open Mind-Closed Circuits, Kunst in Europa na ’68.
He was the founder and director of the museum S.M.A.K. (Ghent, Belgium) and MARTa Herford (Germany).

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