The Portrait Room. Portrait#7: Etienne Wynants


Etienne did not want to meet me, at the beginning.


Etienne Wynants (born where and when? I did not ask him) is a Belgian art historian, managing editor of Witte Raaf, and business coordinator of the Etablissement d’en face, an artists-curators run space in Brussels. Because of this blunt list of activities, we could think of him as a curator. That would be really the simpliest way indeed. But is it not the most reductive, too? Isn’t it true that curator is an umbrella term? What is a “curator”? Why don’t we stop questioning and arguing about it?
When I first met him, I thought he was a passionate art talker. The second time, I realized he was a passionate art lover. We shared the same doubts about definitions/labels and being-a-curator’s ethics/etiquette. Being a pretentiously charged word and powerful profession nowadays, most people working in art are skeptical about who names himself curator. We both agreed that curating seems more and more away from art and that his/her more urgent imperative today must be to go back to these priorities. For Etablissement d’en face exhibitions program, he and his colleagues discuss which artist has to be invited and then engage in giving him/her practical and intellectual support. Etienne Wynants affirms not to need public credit: all he cares about is the artworks he shows, the stand he takes by doing so. I felt an original, truthfully authentic committment, an invisible act of curating for art’s sake. He protects art, takes care of it: back to what curating means (from the latin curare = to take care of, to worry, to care about, to provide for). Back then, I was translating a text by Federico Ferrari: another inspiring cultural worker who strongly refuses to define himself curator. In his manifesto, he exposes what a curator should be, a comrad of the artist.
When I sent him the article, Etienne totally encompassed Ferrari and his idea of the flaneur curator: a sensible comrad, gifted of a pure, determined, disenchanted enthusiasm.
I recognized Etienne as the curator that Ferrari invoked in his article, and felt incredibly satisfied.


Useful links for the reader:

Ferrari’s Comrad of the artist, English version
Ferrari’s Complice dell’artista, Italian version


Tuesday 11/12/2013, 4 °C, Etablissement d’en face, Brussels

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by Michela Alessandrini
in The Portrait Room

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