Chantal Akerman

Chantal Akerman

Belgian fim director


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Akerman was one of the first film directors who made the switch to visual art. She rose to fame in the 1970s as a feminist avant-garde filmmaker, and midway through the 1990s, she discovered the possibilities of the art gallery.

In 1995 she created a large spatial installation on 24 monitors based on D’Est, a film she originally made as a documentary. This marked the start of her ’second career’ within the world of visual art. The exhibition features eight of Akerman’s film installations. In addition to D’Est, they include a.o. Woman Sitting after a Killing (2001), Tombée de nuit sur Shanghai (2007-2008) and her final work NOW (2015).

As a 25-year-old dropout from film academy, Chantal Akerman acquired instant fame in 1975 with Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles. This understated, minimalist portrait of the mundane chores of a Brussels housewife and part-time prostitute was lauded as the standard-bearer of feminist avant-garde cinema. In a stripped-down and anti-dramatic style – later referred to as ‘slow cinema’ – Akerman exposed the oppressive routine of a homemaker’s existence and gave a face to the secret life of countless women.

Akerman’s work is characterized by a detached approach to what looks like ‘ordinary life’, but where a profusion of violent events, memories and emotions lurk beneath the surface. Akerman, herself the child of an Auschwitz survivor, is “charging the mundane with significance”.


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