EN / nl
Vermeir, Katleen & Ronny Heiremans
Vermeir b. 1973, Bornem, Belgium; lives and works in Brussels, Belgium
Heiremans b. 1962, Heist-op-den-Berg, Belgium; lives and works in Brussels
The Residence (A Wager for the Afterlife), 2012 Single screen video installation, 35 min.
Katleen Vermeir and Ronny Heiremans create dense narratives that explore the complex entanglements between art, the economy, real estate, and urban development. The Residence was produced in collaboration with Ma Wen, an artist and architect who doubles as the video’s protagonist, an artist–entrepreneur who views the world primarily in terms of a market economy. With the backdrop of construction sites – real and virtual – and ambitious property development projects, Ma Wen explains his belief in progress, prosperity, and the good life through the accumulation of wealth, with art providing ‘added value’ and social status, quoting a variety of sources, including lifestyle magazines, official white papers and literary works. As the plot unfolds we learn that Ma Wen has been commissioned by a wealthy investor to design a ‘house’ for his afterlife. It is a biting commentary on gentrification, the contagious nature of capitalism and its constant quest for new territories. The video deliberately revels in expensive condos, fancy interiors, fashion shows, and art openings, but an ominous sub-text emerges all the same: Ma Wen’s long-haired alter ego and the people excluded from gated communities signal the absurd emptiness of a market based on fiction, creating value out of nothing. KG