A huge world of architecture meeting art

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We met Minne De Meyer Engelbeen one hour before the opening night of Sick Architecture at CIVA. Minne, a graduated architect, and florist and now studying Curatorial Studies at KASK, took the time to guide us through a history of diseases and their relation to architecture. While everyone was adding the last details to the exhibition, we delved into the explanations of the researchers. Minne is the assistant curator for this exhibition and if you want to have your own little private tour, be sure to keep 09 June free.

Hi Minne, how’s your internship at CIVA going? 

It’s going really well. From Curatorial Studies out, they want us to call it a mentorship instead of an internship, which allows us to gain more responsibility and a little more authority in the internship which I really like. Now they really treat me as an assistant curator and not as an intern that's volunteering for nothing. [laughs]

I wanted to gain as much knowledge as possible in the curatorial field and CIVA is giving me this chance. They included me in everything. I was able to write texts, make selections with the head curators and do research… Everything that the organisation of an exhibition needs, I was able to dive in. I loved it, it’s the best mentorship I could have imagined. 

What’s your aim in combining architecture and curating? 

When I did my Master's in architecture, I worked at CRIT. architects where I was involved in different exhibitions and I noticed that architecture and exhibition displays, but also architecture as content for exhibitions can be part of my architectural parcours. I noticed that there’s this huge world of architecture meeting art and architecture wanting to put themselves forward in the form of exhibitions. This leads to this interesting dialogue: do you see yourself as a scenographer/architect or as a curator? 

For the Sick Architecture exhibition at CIVA, we worked with an architectural firm to make the scenography while the content is also about architecture and it’s in an architecture institute but it’s an exhibition, so it should be curated. It’s this in-between thing that I really want to explore more.  

I had a lot of satisfaction in architecture, but I knew, job-wise, that I wouldn’t feel it that much. I knew I had to look for something else, where I could still use my love for architecture and this is just ideal. Everything just makes sense now.

Do you think you will miss creating stuff as an architect? 

A bit, but I still do it. I call it my architectural practice. I recently had two exhibitions where I displayed works that were based on one part of my graduation project. They are textiles where I'm trying to navigate to the place 'somewhere'. It's a very vague idea, but for me, it's architecture because I made it as part of my master thesis in architecture. So the creating process is still there.

The idea of creating things as an architect, working on projects and then they get built-in real life, I don’t have the aim or the ambition to have something being built with my name on it. But I like the idea of creating things and being able to share them with people. That’s why I took night classes to become a florist as well. Working with my hands, creating things that people will find beautiful, finding meaning in them and giving it to other people. The idea of creating is still there, but differently and just not as an architect in the sense of ‘builder of buildings’.

I don’t have the aim or the ambition to have something being built with my name on it

Can you tell us a bit more about Sick Architecture? 

The exhibition talks about sickness and architecture and how these two influenced each other throughout the years, going from Covid-19 times to the Spanish flu to tuberculosis. It’s an exhibition that combines history with contemporary research and architecture. Our guest curator is Beatriz Colomina and it started from her book X-Ray Architecture which begins with the idea that modern architecture has been designed to fight tuberculosis. the dates match and there's this big alignment in architecture becoming very transparent, very white, very clean and tuberculosis hitting sky rocks at that moment.

It begins with the idea that modern architecture has been designed to fight tuberculosis

How did Covid times influence architecture? 

We don’t have the infrastructure for pandemics like Covid-19. For example, the big hospital in Wuhan was built in only ten days. It had to contain everybody that was contaminated with Covid-19. That shows that we don’t have the infrastructure when something like this happens. With diseases, especially contagious diseases, the infrastructure of architecture is the first thing that needs to be built to contain them. It has been there in history all the time. You have to build infrastructure, literally architecture.

We don’t have the infrastructure for pandemics like Covid-19


Can you tell us something about the event on 09 June in the framework of The Nocturnes? 

CIVA will be open till late at night and Subbacultcha members will be able to subscribe for a free guided tour to go around the Sick Architecture exhibition with me at 7 pm. We can delve into the explanations of the researchers a bit more. So for those interested in architecture and/or sickness: just come!


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