Until recently, the Hayward Gallery in London showed an exhibition of art with a single subject: trees. In the exhibition, 37 international artists, including Ugo Rondinone, Tacita Dean and Thomas Struth, visualised the potential diversity within this theme. In the current exhibition "No Road to Hotel Bellevue" in DMW Gallery in Antwerp, the Belgian artist Dries Segers shows how much variety is possible within the genre in the work of a single artist! In this exhibition, Segers highlights a series of trees with a remarkable function, using completely different methods and aesthetics.
The practice of the Belgian photographer is quite varied. Segers: “My work should not be considered purely as photography. There are mechanisms of drawing or painting or sculpture in place that creep into my work, but the result is always a photographic image.” When Segers created work for an exhibition in the Concertgebouw in Bruges in 2018, he chose not to use a camera. Instead, he perforated rolls of film, using drills, saws and grinding wheels. After that, he walked through the building and caught the light (in several levels of luminosity) through the holes and cracks. The result resembled a galaxy. In another project, “Seeing a rainbow (through a window that isn't there)” from 2015, he showed us the visual poetry in little things - including ombre rainbow colours in a black eye that is healing slowly, a screensaver on a stranger’s computer in a cafe, a splash of oil on the street and the reflections from a cup of coffee and a stained glass window.
In a world that is increasingly digital and data based, Segers likes to deal with analogue matters. For his previous series "Fungi" (2019), he immersed himself in the world of fungi, that he photographed in Brussels. Segers: “Fungi are the oldest living species on our planet. They take over land without asking permission. They clean up toxic messes in disturbed landscapes and shake the land back to life to create liveable grounds for animals, plants and maybe humans. They have the power to transport energy between weaker and stronger trees, to keep forests alive or to kill them. Their spores are invisible and spread and spread and spread.” That fascination for a certain timelessness in nature also features in his most recent project: after all, trees have existed on this planet for over 370 million years, but humanity has occasionally adhered a different function to them. For the current exhibition in DMW Gallery, Segers made macro shots of his personal tree seed bank and made efforts to create an alternative cartography.
Dries Segers: “My latest project “No Road to Hotel Bellevue” focuses on trees that have been planted specifically to mark the boundaries between private borders, municipalities, provinces or countries. They were once landmarks, but now they are slowly being returned to the landscape, except for some trees. It is my first research project, and it is more complicated than purely experimental photographic processes. It is no longer something that can be regarded as l'art pour l'art, but must be seen in a larger context. For example, I use a laser cutter to engrave symbols in the frames in which the work is exhibited. These in turn refer to the trees themselves and that way, you get a kind of imaginative and abstract legend and information flow about that specific tree.”
Segers studied in Iceland and Brussels and previously showed his work in Bozar, the FOMU in Antwerp, the Fotoğraf Vakfı Festival in Istanbul and Warte für Kunst in Kassel, among others. He also works as a photojournalist for media like Canvas, De Standaard, Weekend Knack, De Morgen and Monopol Magazine.
The exhibition "No Road to Hotel Bellevue" will be on show until January 9 at DMW Gallery in Antwerp. Please contact the gallery prior to a visit for the most recent opening hours.