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Your story. Strength by Sappi. You are holding this magazine because you love quality, craftsmanship and visual impact. For these attributes, you can count on Graphius Group. As do we. Sappi has found a loyal partner in Graphius Group, prioritising high and sustainable quality. Together we can create paper that generates impact. So that you in turn can produce print that goes further than you ever thought possible.
12 Dixie Dansercoer Polar pioneer
‘‘That was an oﬀer you couldn’t refuse.”
04 Bridgehead in Brussels
A chat with Luc Roesems
Daniël Ost Living art
22 Zoute Grand Prix Classics and fast cars
18 Ten years of DAMn°
Siegrid Demyttenaere looks back and ahead
Speciality labels Presentation Etiglia
books & tickets You can win many of the books mentioned in this magazine! Go to www.graphius.com/game for a chance to win books, catalogues, tickets and even Belgian beer.
Stageco From Werchter To The World
Photo cover © Polar Circles / Dixie Dansercoer
CREDITS: Members of Graphius Group: Geers Offset, New Goff, Sintjoris, Druk In De Weer, De Duurzame Drukker, Deckers Snoeck, Boone-Roosens and Etiglia. Editor-in-chief: Denis Geers, Eekhoutdriesstraat 67, 9041 Ghent, Belgium. Subscriptions: subscribe for free through email@example.com. Graphius, Eekhoutdriesstraat 67, 9041 Ghent, Belgium. Tel. +32 (0)9 251 05 75. firstname.lastname@example.org, www.graphius.com Printed with vegetal inks on a Heidelberg XL 106 – 10 colour press with a hybrid screening 250 lpi. Blistered with compostable and biodegradable plastic.
the difference is
in the detail KOLENIK Eco Chic Design The designer Robert Kolenik is partial to eye-catching stunts: a kitchen island that is essentially a fish tank with a marble countertop, a vertical garden in the living room, or a floating wall encasing an open fire. Even the cover of his photo book is extraordinary: the hard cover has the letters cut out of it by laser. Published by TerraLannoo, 196 pages
AMANIA MO This winter fashion catalogue glitters like gold, with the texture of the paper and the printing combining to make the brochure literally sparkle. The same precision and colour control is reflected in the designs of the winter collection, which present a real challenge for any printer. www.amaniamo.be
ORGAN BUILDER Thomas If you think that church organs are a thing of the past, you need to get your hands on a Thomas box sharpish. For the past fifty years, the company Manufacture dâ€™orgues Thomas has been building and restoring church organs all over the world from the village of Ster, Francorchamps. These 263 organs take up no fewer than three volumes, which are presented as a boxed collection. www.orgues-thomas.com
THE COLOURS OF THE GREAT WAR The millions of soldiers fighting in France or Belgium didn’t see the horrors of the Great War in black and white, but we usually do. Colour images of this bloody conflict remain rare. Historian Alain D’Amato decided to restore the original colours in some 200 pictures, giving a present-day aura to an almost forgotten war. 1914-1918 Les hommes, les mots, la guerre, Alain D’Amato,
Editions Aldacom, 224 pages
Brussels Bigbook Brussels is exactly what its name implies: big! With a format that’s almost A3, it takes up a large chunk of your coffee table. This lifestyle magazine from ‘The News & Modern Editions’ presents itself as ‘The official magazine for Belgian quality and Belgian insiders’.
NESPRESSO RECIPES You will never say “it’s just coffee” about a cup of coffee again. The ‘cup of Joe’ is definitely a thing of the past. Nespresso has turned making coffee into a fine art. How about a Latte Macchiato Speculoos Indulgence? Or perhaps an iced vanilla latte? This recipe book, designed by the communications agency ACT*, is enough to turn any aficionado into a barista. Nespresso even has a variation for cocktail lovers: a Caipirinha coffee, anyone?
conversation with Luc Roesems
Luc Roesems believes that printing is to the world of communications what vinyl is to the world of music: modest in volume but absolutely indispensable for the luxury segment. You could describe it as the niche for connoisseurs. “We offer exceptional quality to that market”, says Luc. As proof of this, he picks out a couple of shiny brochures for car brands. “We print this magazine for an Aston Martin dealer. Last year, we won Knack’s Grafisch Nieuws Excellence Award in the corporate and client magazine category. Take a look at the sharpness of the photographs. We work with special software for this and an LPI of 300. Most printers don’t go over 175. This fine resolution ensures that the photos printed are outstandingly sharp and clear. The grey metallic shine on the cover mimics the colour of the Aston Martin that Daniel Craig drove in the James Bond films. Only the best is good enough for 007”, he laughs. Boone-Roosens also prints brochures for Lexus. Again: high-end printing. Luc Roesems: “We first make corrections to the colours on the proofs of the photos before we actually go to print. The luxury market is one of the niches that we have carved out for ourselves.”
Close to clients As a grandson and son of printers, Luc Roesems grew up immersed in the printing world. Boone-Roosens was founded in 1918 in the parish of Ruisbroek, later moving to new premises in the Lot industrial park in Beersel in 1995. In 2012, Luc Roesems gave the company fresh impetus by investing in automation and web applications. In 2013, it made its first foray into wet-glue labelling for bottles (see also page 33). Recently, Boone-Roosens became part of the Graphius Group, which pools together six printers of East Flanders origin at a single production site in Ghent. Is BooneRoosens also planning to move there? Luc Roesems: “Not at all. We are in the perfect place for our clients. Traditionally, we cater primarily for the Brussels and Walloon markets. For many companies in these regions, Ghent is quite a long way away. Or at least that’s what it feels like. We will therefore become a second production site for the group, perfectly located for the central and southern parts of Belgium. Our name, team and commercial approach will stay the same. A huge benefit is that our sales team can communicate in both French and Dutch and that we have already been working with companies in Brussels and Wallonia for years.” At the same time, Boone-Roosens will benefit from the economies of scale of a large international group. Coming together with Graphius Group makes it easier for us to save money on purchases. Luc Roesems: “Through the group we can also make further investments in new technologies. It also means that we can recruit and train new staff. If you don’t grow, you die, as they say.”
Luc Roesems is not afraid to admit that ‘smaller’ players find it hard to take on these kinds of investments alone. “Joining the group fits in with a broader wave of consolidation in the Belgian graphics sector. We are traditionally a country dotted with a mosaic of family printing businesses. In the space of a couple of years, this landscape has been completely shaken up. Many family businesses have been wiped out. They often can’t bounce back from the costlier investments. In the nottoo-distant future, there will only be a few large groups and they will be the ones that can continue to invest and compete with other countries.
Ordering through a web app Boone-Roosens also wants to explore some specific niches in the future. Clients can already order printing through a web portal. Luc Roesems: “We print instruction manuals and promotional material for a client and store it in our warehouse. We know exactly what the client still has in stock, as we print it and store it ourselves. The client or a representative of the client can then tell us how much material has to be delivered, where to and when for, and we send a courier straight away.” The next step in digital services is a web app through which clients can upload the layout of some printing they want done (poster, brochure, magazines etc.) and order it in a particular print run. “A bit like when you get your photos printed. You do need to do that on a European scale though. Belgium alone is too small for that. Graphius has been active there for quite a few years. We are now developing a brand new application.” There are further plans for other niche markets. We try to get Luc to spill the beans but he signs that his lips are sealed with a zip. “I can’t say anything about it”, he laughs, “but we have big plans for the Graphius Group. We will be able to unveil them all within the next six months.” Overall, Luc Roesems is rather positive about the future of paper. “A couple of years ago, a few companies decided to stop printing completely. I think that was a wrong move. Even young digital natives who are constantly on Facebook or Snapchat are quick to ignore the advertising on their screens. Or they get annoyed by it. Do you still read marketing e-mails? (The ones that have got past your spam filter, that is.) Do you look at adverts on a website? Whereas an advert in a beautiful magazine has a way of sticking, I think. Perhaps it’s not a conscious thing, but it does. Some companies are already backtracking from their initial decision not to print any more. Paper is here to stay, but it will change to become an addition to online, and in smaller print runs, but with more added value. Do you know what I’m also hoping? That printed instruction manuals make a comeback. You just don’t want to know how much money is spent on ink cartridges because you now have to print manuals out yourself.”
“We are the bridgehead for Brussels and Wallonia.” Luc Roesems
Frustration Frustration! The fallen leaves from the bamboo on her terrace and the way refugees are treated at our eastern borders. Frustration! The bamboo, Marie-Jo can handle (“They have to be off my terrace, full-stop. They’re out of here.”) But the stream of refugees is something on which she has less of a direct impact, and this frustration shines through in her latest series of paintings. The living area in Marie-Jo Lafontaine’s loft in Schaarbeek is full of art, right through into the kitchen. These aren’t her own works, but works by artists such as José María Sicilia. To see her paintings and photographs, you have to go into the adjoining studio, a strikingly clean space with large windows and plenty of sunlight. On the first table there is a model of Guy Pieters Gallery in Knokke, where she is exhibiting a whole series of new works. The white walls of the gallery have been painstakingly reproduced, just like a doll’s house, with tiny frames barely two-centimetres wide around her paintings. It gives her a good picture of what the final exhibition will look like. The real works are piled up against each other in black frames at the back of the studio.
By Lafontaine’s standards, the paintings are fairly small: thirty centimetres high, a good sight less than her photographs, which fill walls at two-metres high. Each painting is made up of two square abstract paintings. “The two paintings represent two worlds that have been juxtaposed. Between them, you automatically get a line, a border. The inspiration for this came from the recent influx of refugees and my frustration as to the way in which we are handling the situation.” Marie-Jo Lafontaine’s work is Marie-Jo Lafontaine. Beautiful, charming, attractive, but if you make the effort to look deeper, you perceive a dark cloud. Landscapes of flowers show some signs of decay. Photographs of businessmen wearing animal masks (based on the fables of her namesake Jean de la Fontaine) have a sinister streak. The fragile and ostensibly endearing black-and-white photos of children
“It’s going to be an exhibition with primarily new works, in a completely new direction. No more photos or videos: I am going back to painting.”
Troubled waters, 2013 (monochrome & photo, 195 x 120 cm)
make you smile at first glance, until you see in their eyes that their childhood is soon to be lost and they will soon be doing all the things—good or bad—that grown-ups do. In parallel to the paintings, she is preparing a new video installation in conjunction with the Flagey museum in Brussels. The theme is music, with Brussels as the decor. This is a large-scale commission with scores of musi-
cians from genres ranging from rumba to hip-hop.
Pioneering in video Lafontaine (b. 1950) made her international breakthrough with her video art, when this genre was still wet behind the ears and she had to fight against the established values of the art world to be taken seriously and earn recognition. In 1987, at the five-yearly celebra-
tion of contemporary art in Kassel, her video installation ‘Larmes d’acier’ (Tears of Steel) set the tone for a whole generation of video artists. Born out of frustration (that word again!) at the beauty ideals and fitness fads of the day, Lafontaine showed a bodybuilder on multiple television screens, built into an installation that was itself a work of art. This was a pioneering work, which causes a headache to museums that want to show
her first video works again. “The screens I used then aren’t made any more. I had the very last ones ever made brought over from China. When those break, the museums that install my work again will have a big problem.” The S.M.A.K. (the Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art in Ghent) is wrestling with just this kind of dilemma as we speak. Their solution is to slightly adapt the surrounding installation to today’s flat screens.
At the palace
Banana kisses and frozen margaritas, 2003 (monochrome & photos)
Most famous photographers make the most of their name with portrait commissions. A studio portrait of your daughter on her birthday, or even one of her pony? Marie-Jo Lafontaine visibly recoils when I ask whether she does this too. She prefers to choose her own subjects. However, there is one famous exception. “Yes. I know. But that was an offer you can’t refuse. If you are asked to do a royal portrait of the new King and Queen, you don’t really have a choice. You have to accept.” Those photos have now become her most widespread works. They hang in every town hall and court. “I didn’t photograph the royal couple in their palace, which is full of
chandeliers, brocade and gold decorations, as my predecessors did. Until I stepped outside, by chance, onto a rotunda and saw the capital in the background. That was the shot I needed: the King and Queen in front of their Kingdom.” There could be no greater contrast between the royal portrait of Queen Mathilde (in a fairly simple blue dress, a purple ribbon embroidered with decorations, and a tiara) and her recent series of life-size photographs featuring a naked, hanging woman. Marie-Jo Lafontaine: “It became a series of naked women. What you can’t see in the picture is that they are holding onto a beam. The fact that they are hanging changes their posture completely. This creates a striking image about loss of control. I cannot explain why this image seemed important enough to be made. Images just come to me. And then my selection criterion is whether an image will become part of art history. If not, it has to go!”
Don’t force things, just surrender
Four people ever have succeeded in crossing both the Arctic Ocean and the Antarctic continent. Dixie Dansercoer’s face will forever be engraved in the Mount Rushmore of polar expeditions. What is his secret? The calmness to surrender to the circumstances. “You can’t appear in the poles as a foreign body. There has to be a symbiosis with nature.”
At 18 years of age, Dirk Dansercoer left for the States as part of a development programme. He learned a life-changing lesson there: “That was not the America I’d dreamed about. At the time I dreamt of becoming a bass player. I had long hair, earrings and felt like a real rocker. Music was my first love. Then I ended up in conservative Idaho. I had to go to church three times a week with my host family. With hindsight, I learned to be flexible there, to accept what isn’t perfect and to be open to new experiences by not forcing things and just surrendering. The ability to surrender is a good quality to have, especially when it comes to Mother Nature, who is always stronger than you and to whom you’re no more than a pinhead in a mass of ice and snow.” There’s another souvenir you still have from that time. My host brother in Idaho, who was a fun guy, thought it was important that I should blend in at school. In the last year of high school either you’re in or you’re out. He said: “Dirk rhymes too easily with jerk so let’s call you Dixie”. My friends have embraced my nickname. My family still calls me Dirk but that’s OK. It isn’t something that I am strict about. It just grew organically. Greenland was your most recent large expedition. Yes that’s right. In 2014, Sam Deltour and I went on an extended follow-up to our expedition from three years previously with the same quest: to prove that it’s possible to start and end an expedition around the major ice caps in the same place. I wanted to prove that the Coriolis effect and the rotation of the earth would allow us to complete a circular route. Success and two world records was the outcome. That’s great because it shows that you can still always become a pioneer in your sector, because what else can you do? Everywhere has been travelled, everywhere is on the map, but that kind of mission is something you can still be first in. You always travel with a partner? That is a promise I made to my loved ones. With two people the risks are halved. You are of course reliant on that person so it’s an important choice. I follow my gut feeling when I approach candidates. I look at what they’ve already done and how humble they
are. And whether they can be pleasant in difficult situations. You also spend a lot of time together. What do you do in a tent when you can only wait? Music is always vital at those times. You can listen more intensely and more analytically. The same goes for literature. Now you can load an e-book with hundreds of books. That makes a difference in terms of saving on weight. In my early years, we would cut the cover and the initial pages out of books. Now we don’t need to do that anymore. What are you searching for? To be honest, I am driven by personal ambition and a lust for discovery. That’s still generally the case with pioneers. I have no interest in imitating others and being faster than others. Stepping into the unknown: that’s what drives me. You can still do that nowadays, despite Google and all the maps and satellites. You are confronted with difficulty, danger and monotony. You’re away from our aspirational society that is always looking for more luxury, protection and safety. That’s just one big illusion. It doesn’t interest me. Do you find people on the whole soft? Certainly not, but society can make you that way. We as people are still survivors, we have to fall back on what we have in difficult situations. We do have a lot of potential. But there aren’t any TVs with buttons you have to stand up to turn any more. Everything is only getting easier and that has its consequences. Think about issues such as childhood obesity and diabetes. I would rather see people move a bit more often. You have already used the word “pioneer” a couple of times. Where does that urge to be the first to do something come from? That is another dimension to curiosity, to keep on learning. Being pioneering is all about being enterprising, about building a structure within which you can make a difference. Not imitating the competition, but creating a new vision to define the future. At the end of my career or my life I want to look back and know that I’ve done something meaningful.
What makes you wake up one day and say: “Mum, I’m just off to the North Pole. I’ll be back in a bit”? (laughs) Just like the other passions in my life, it grew slowly. I have always kept my body fit and I was always taking on challenges to test my limits. And as soon as I knew these limits, I wanted to know the limits of my mind. I combined both: from sport to adventure, camping, mountain biking, climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering, and then I was confronted with an ice cap. That
really scared of losing my cheek but it healed in just two weeks thanks to that miracle product, Aloe Vera. Are you scared that an expedition could go wrong? You always have to have a healthy level of fear. I’m really conservative with my decision-making. There is a red line that you must never cross. But I’m not actually really scared. The advantage of polar expeditions is that it is relatively safe, with few victims.
“I am driven by personal ambition and a lust for discovery. Stepping into the unknown: that’s what drives me.” was love at first sight. An infection that you never get rid of. In that strange world, you sometimes fall flat on your face but you learn from your mistakes, and by growing bit-bybit you end up an expert. That learning curve can be hard. One of your cheeks was once frozen during an expedition. I was really angry with myself. I used to be proud of never having had frostbite because I would stave it off with almost military care. On an icy day with sharp winds, a layer of ice formed on the inside of my mask and reached my cheek before I’d noticed. In a couple of hours my cheek was frozen. I was
One death every five years is relatively low, fortunately. There are thousands of deaths a year from mountain climbing. If you stay alert, polar expeditions are quite safe. What or who is your biggest enemy on the ice? Damp, because it can come from many sources. You can’t actually sweat in the cold because it will seep through the insulation in your clothes. When you cook, you also have a lot of damp that you have to evacuate from your inner tent. And then you have the snow and the water that you have to keep out. Not only to protect us from the cold but also our materials, which could suffer from it.
Humans are not made to live in such temperatures. Do you feel the pressure to overcome nature, to surpass yourself? Others have already proven, a long time before us, that you can temporarily overcome these conditions. That’s not what I do it for. But physically confronting nature in its purest form is extremely refreshing. Do you consider the poles a second home? I do think that I can claim that a bit. I feel completely at ease there. It is my artificial habitat. You can’t kid yourself into thinking you could live there but I do know it well, down to the finest details. That depth is crucial to me. You really feel at one with nature. Absolutely. I feel a bit like an animal because an animal has to be constantly alert. The dangers, the wind, the sun, the ice creations, the carpet of snow, damp … All of these factors determine my conduct in that foreign habitat. Everything is much easier if you embrace that feeling rather than resisting it. In such a situation, when the weather suddenly stops being rough and the wind dies down, you feel that nature is rolling out its red carpet for you and giving you right of way. Can you enjoy those moments to the full? When everything is going well, you experience moments of euphoria that you store in your photographic memory. When you’re stuck in a traffic jam or have to process twenty files, you can stop for a minute and picture that moment. These are moments
that you don’t always capture on film, but without knowing it, you keep those images in your memory forever. Can you still enjoy “normal-person tourism”? I am also a person who just has to stand in queues. I don’t want to resist everything I see as negative right off the bat. I have no issue with mass tourism. Because you group a lot of people together, it is even environmentally friendly. But it’s not for me. Antarctica is a continent in its own right. The Arctic is a frozen ocean. How different are these environments to cross? In Antarctica the ice is four thousand metres deep. It is therefore a very stable continent. On the Arctic Ocean there are maybe two or three metres of ice adrift, barely a sliver. There is a greater diversity of fauna and of ice flows, which are determined by the moon and tides. That and the damp nature of the environment make it more difficult. You have to be constantly alert, because the Arctic is much more dangerous, but it is also more intense and more beautiful. The effects of global warming are also clearer to see there. In the media, we do hear disaster stories about the Arctic because the ice melts faster there. That’s logical. The polar bear problem is also inherent to this. They flee to the mainland, where they don’t belong, find other sources of food and mate with grizzly bears. Making the pizzly bear, which is not a
pretty sight. It is important to convince people that there is still time in their lifespan to start making a difference. It is not too late if we start now. With Polar Circles, you take others in tow to discover the polar regions. It is unbelievable that I have been able to turn a hobby that got a bit out of hand into my profession. We take small groups to a place of stillness and creativity, where people can find themselves. First they get training. For example, your participants make their own cups of tea. That isn’t hard, it just needs time and a bit of dedication. It makes the whole experience fresher and more intense because afterwards there is a bigger dose of self-respect. You always know you have done it yourself. Is such an expedition not incredibly expensive? Absolutely not if you compare it with similar experiences. We have had postmen come with us, people who really wanted to go on an expedition and try the real thing. We receive applications from motivated people and from companies. For the latter it is good to get to know each other away from daily worries. It has to offer more than just team building; there must be productive results. We demonstrate that the complexity of generations in the workplace doesn’t have to lead to clashes. Good preparation and clear communication can lead to a rapprochement between age groups. I myself have only good memories of my younger travelling companions.
Do you want to show your own personal winter wonderland to your own children? Of course. For my 50th birthday, my four children, who are aged between 13 and 24, gave me a blown-up photo of them photoshopped in between a tent and a sledge. It was a clear hint: “We want to come too one day”. Planning that could be a challenge but they are certainly welcome. A family trip wouldn’t be possible but one child at a time could work. It would also be more intense. What do you still want to do? In 2017, I want to go from the North Pole to Franz Josef Land, based on the story of the Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen who had already understood the presence of Transpolar Drift early on. I would like to relive that journey. We will also study the ice at the same time. In addition, it will be a celebration of our first great expedition through Antarctica twenty years ago. Will that close the circle? I will be 55 years old then. These expeditions take their toll. You have to see it as starting a new business from scratch each time, with everything that entails. By that time, I’ll just be happy to have the whole guide structure well organised, but then again “never say never”.
www.polarcircles.com www.polarexperience.com www.polaroffsites.com © photographs Polar Circles / Dixie Dansercoer
news ON TOUR Frankfurt - Paris - Chicago Every year, Graphius treks from
book fair to book fair. The biggest
MUSÉE DU LOUVRE
Graphius has won a
book fair in the world was in
Graphius is proud
October. Graphius also had a stand
to present Etiglia,
King Philippe of Belgium
at the ‘Frankfurter Buchmesse’, not
our newest division,
made a visit to Volvo in
to sell books but to introduce itself
building on Boone-
Ghent to celebrate 50
as a printer to book publishers.
years of vehicle production.
These are already on our tour list
in labels and adding a
Graphius astounded the
new contract with the
The various pumps in the
for the near future:
Royal visitors by printing
prestigious Musée du
bindery were replaced
• Paris for the Salon du Livre
200 celebration photobooks
Louvre for its digital
by a single central
focus is on stylish
to mark the occasion in
and offset printing for a
system. The noise and
period of 4 years.
electrical consumption in the bindery fell sharply.
(17-20 March 2016) • Chicago for the National
packaging for beer
less than 50 minutes. The
Museum Publishing Seminar
bottles, wine bottles,
special edition features
(12-14 May 2016)
pots for jam and jelly,
a photograph of the King
The warmth from the
Are you in the neighbourhood?
milk bottles, wraps
taken just as he arrived.
pumps is centralized and
Let’s meet up!
around coffee cans,
Printing and binding
used in order to heat
sleeves, and more.
operations were carried
the bindery in the cold
out simultaneously and the
books were finshed and delivered in record time.
Boss Barack Obama put it very succinctly: “I’m the President, but he’s the Boss.” The album ‘Born to Run’ catapulted Bruce Springsteen to international stardom in 1975. The film-maker and environmental activist Barbara Pyle, a young photographer at the time, gained entry into a world to which nobody was later given access, and took photos while the E Street Band were at work in the studio. She also documented their tour. Forty years on, the best photos have now been turned into a book. We phoned her in New York to talk to her about ‘Springsteen & The E Street Band 1975’.
band over to my parents’ house in Oklahoma for a barbecue. That was the day the album made the top ten.” “Bruce created himself”, is what you say about his image. “I shopped with him a lot at the time. He experimented with clothes and gradually evolved towards the Bruce you see on the cover of ‘Born to Run’. Casual, yet classy. That is the real Bruce Springsteen, the kid who grew up in the streets of New Jersey, but it is also carefully thought out.” You also always show other band members such as Steve van Zandt (Silvio to fans of The Sopranos) and Clarence ‘Big Man’ Clemons. “It wouldn’t have succeeded without their talent and contribution. I have been asked many times to make a photo book of Bruce, only featuring photos of Bruce. But I have always refused. They were a team, him and the band. They needed each other. I’m glad you saw that in my photos!”
Barbara, the glamour of rock seems miles away in these photos. The band looks exhausted and The Boss doesn’t even seem able to break a smile. “They were all suffering mental breakdowns” she laughs “and Bruce was actually depressed. He was in a dark place. The band had been working on the album for fourteen months. It was like Groundhog Day: record, mix, remix, and start again. It was never good enough for Bruce. The pressure was intense. If ‘Born to Run’ had been a flop, the record company would have dumped him.”
Springsteen & The E Street Band 1975, Photographs by Barbara Pyle, 228 pages
One of your photos of a rehearsal was even referred to by Springsteen as “the scariest thing you’ve ever seen”. “They had been in the studio for four days with hardly any sleep. And they had to perform that evening. They looked terrible. I hardly dared to print them. But I was also there when the stress eased off. During the tour, I’d invited the
hardback, was published by Reel Art Press and printed by Graphius. We have five books waiting for readers of this magazine. Run to page 1 to enter the competition.
© 2015 Inga Knölke
the magazine that wants to be a book
Can you conquer the world with a Belgian magazine on design, architecture and art? DAMn° has been proving that it can for 52 editions. “We believe in paper and in longer, in-depth articles. DAMn° wants a place on your bookshelf.”
en years ago, Siegrid Demyttenaere gave birth to her (paper) baby, DAMN°. Five years ago, she gave birth to another (flesh and blood) one. As her daughter Romy bounces off in a cloud of pink tulle and toddler chatter, mum orders a glass of wine. We have until the end of the ballet lesson. “As a thirty-year-old, the thought of having children couldn’t have been further from my mind. And then my biological clock said ‘it’s now or never’ (laughs) and I’m glad that’s how it happened. I have always taken her everywhere with me. And Friday ballet lessons are the perfect excuse not to have to work late on DAMN°, at least once a week!” DAMN° is now celebrating its tenth birthday and is on its 52nd edition. What were she and co-editor Walter Bettens thinking when they started an English-language magazine on contemporary culture? She’s not quite sure she remembers herself. “It certainly wasn’t a clearly defined project, let alone one with a business plan. I had already had experience in designing newspapers and I also made the trends book for a communications agency. The 2004 Courtray Biennale was a chance to test the waters to see whether a new magazine could catch on. Edition zero went down well and in 2005, the first official edition followed. It took around three years for us to grow into a fully-fledged European magazine, and another couple of years to take over the world! It is still a niche magazine though. For example, we are in Chile and Argentina but only in Santiago and Buenos Aires, in specialist bookshops, museum shops and large newsagents.” A copy of DAMN° costs €12 and its income comes primarily from advertising revenue from high-end design brands like BMW, Molteni, Flos, Duravit, and Dornbracht. Siegrid Demyttenaere: “We would love to distribute DAMN° for free but that is not possible for the moment. We have only just put a few turbulent years behind us. As an international magazine, we need international budgets. After 2008 these all of a sudden dried up. There was only advertising money left over for national and regional magazines and we were dumped from budgets everywhere. Over all these years, we have been working hard
on building relationships with advertisers, which means that the relationships we now have last longer than a single edition.” The paper DAMN° has a very well laid-out online counterpart. This is where all the fast, current-affairs-related content goes: lots of images and little text. Towards the end of this year, young designers will also be able to promote their work through links on the site. But the paper magazine remains. Isn’t paper falling into oblivion? “Not for us”, says Siegrid. “Mainstream magazines are struggling, but we have always had a niche. This is in a market in which beautiful publications are the norm. You don’t throw a DAMN° away, you keep it on your bookshelf to leaf through later on, or to read an article again. This is why we are contemplating going from six editions a year to four, longer editions. We also dream of an ad-free DAMN°. We would have one advertiser sponsoring a 16-page section in return for a mention. We have already been talking about this for five years (laughs), but you never know ...”
“We dream of an ad-free DAMn°.” Siegrid Demyttenaere
Surviving on one magazine alone is a struggle. The network that has been built up over the years with a lot of care and patience, is now being harnessed to create new income streams. “We organise events where we bring together the important players of the design world, who would only otherwise know each other online. At Milan Salone del Mobile we set up a meeting point for advertisers, designers and other professionals. As someone who is starting out, you don’t normally get your foot in the door with such a big player. But at our networking event, talented young newcomers could talk to big names such as Andrea Branzi and Michele de Lucchi. It’s funny when you later hear that it was thanks to this that they started to work with the big names of our world.” The 3 youngest DAMN° magazines can be won by ten of our readers. To participate go to page 1.
Charlotte a appris à lire son prénom sur une tombe. Elle n’est donc pas la première Charlotte. Il y eut d’abord sa tante, la sœur de sa mère. Les deux sœurs sont très unies, jusqu’à un soir de novembre 1913. Franziska et Charlotte chantent ensemble, dansent, rient aussi. Ce n’est jamais extravagant. Il y a une pudeur dans leur exercice du bonheur.
Charlotte David Foenkinos’s novel Charlotte met with great acclaim as soon as the first edition hit the bookshelves in September last year. It has already won two prestigious French literary prizes: the Prix Renaudot and the Prix Goncourt des Lycéens. In the meantime, a good 500,000 copies of this novel have already been printed. Charlotte recounts the life of Charlotte Salomon, a painter who died at the tender age of 26. She was pregnant at the time. After spending her childhood in Berlin, she was excluded from German society by the Nazis. She ended up having to flee to France, where she started work on a series of autobiographical, modernist drawings and gouache paintings. When the Nazis began to penetrate Paris, she left her works with her GP, saying only “they are my whole life”.
Charlotte, by David Foenkinos, with the gouache paintings of Charlotte Salomon. Editions Gallimard, 258 pages. Printed by Graphius.
A lot of readers asked David Foenkinos where they could see Charlotte’s works of art. Because of this, the new edition of the book includes fifty-odd of the hundreds of gouache paintings that Charlotte Salomon left behind and a dozen photographs that show her dayto-day life and that of the people around her. David Foenkinos, novelist, scriptwriter and musician, has already written thirteen novels that have been translated into forty languages. In 2011, he worked with his brother to turn his own book into a film, La Délicatesse, with Audrey Tautou and François Damiens in the starring roles. This edition with Charlotte’s works of art gives a unique new insight into her life. David Foenkinos fans will now have the chance to experience with even more intensity the emotions already richly conveyed by this unforgettable novel.
limit A fine blend of classics, fast cars, culinary delights and skilful organisation, all topped with a sprinkling of salt from a sea breeze. What are we talking about? It has to be the Zoute Grand Prix. There can be no better location for this than the cosmopolitan sea resort of Knokke. The name ‘Grand Prix’ might be seen as a tad misleading. Racing enthusiasts who get their kick from pure, unadulterated speed, will be disappointed. However, car enthusiasts will feel completely at home at the Zoute Grand Prix. The most beautiful cars will be showcased individually, turning Knokke into a sort of open-air car show. And there’s more: the four-day event is made up of five sections. The highlights, for most visitors, will be the Zoute Rally for clas-
sic cars from 1920 to 1965 and the GT Tour for Gran Turismo models from 1995 onwards. Sophie Braems is one of the people managing the organisation for Zoute Events: “Car events are a fascinating world. Our visitor numbers show that we welcomed an estimated 100,000 visitors: a great success! Thanks to the Grand Prix, the town and its retailers also do a roaring trade, even though it is outside the traditional seaside season. This appears to
have been a conscious and strategic choice: “That way we extend the season and attract crowds of people to Knokke, even though it’s the second weekend in October.” To keep a record of all these visitors and events, since the very first edition, the Zoute Grand Prix goes hand in hand with its own magazines. This year, the preview’s circulation has been increased to 11,000 copies. “The magazine can now be bought in newsagents for the first time”, Sophie reminds us. “We have opted for a lifestyle magazine, with an emphasis on our main theme: beautiful cars. We have seen this publication become a collector’s item for participants and visitors alike.” That is also the case with the review, which is already available on the last day of the event. “In the review, we talk about all the events and we publish a lot of photos, including of the gala evening on the Saturday”, says Sophie. “That means
that our photographer has to hand in the photos really quickly and the magazine gets printed at night.” Graphius receives those files around 1 o’clock at night. Just 8 hours later, 4,000 magazines are delivered to the venue in Knokke. After all, top speed is an integral part of the Zoute Grand Prix.
Zoute Grand Prix is made by Choisi and printed by Graphius. Info on the event: www.zoutegrandprix.be
Minimal impact Companies committed to sustainability can opt for sustainability reporting. Graphius’s first report is set to come out shortly. No shortage of sustainability expertise: Halina Bletek has already written a number of sustainability reports for De Duurzame Drukker (which now forms part of Graphius), one of which even won an award. “In 2009, we published our first report (the first Belgian SME to do so), and in 2001 we picked up the Award for Best Belgian Sustainability Report. In contrast to annual reporting, sustainability reporting is not a legal obligation. It is, however, an ideal tool for businesses that want to communicate openly and clearly on what is going on in their organisation. How do you, as a company, limit your impact on the environment without jeopardising your bottom line? How do you interact with your employees? It is not only important for your own employees to know what ‘their’ company is doing, but also for the outside world: clients, suppliers, neighbours etc.”
Staying realistic Printing presses on the go all the time, using hundreds of litres of ink and tonnes
of paper … Isn’t it incredibly difficult for a technology to achieve these goals. The susprinter to be truly sustainable? “A printer tainability report is therefore a tool for mondoes indeed need a lot of energy to be able to itoring evolution and communicating results print”, says Halina Bletek. “Graphius knows and goals.” that only too well, but we are conscientious about our energy use. We do our best to There’s always room for keep the impact on the environment down improvement to a minimum, for example by using more The first report that will come out in autumn environmentally friendly types of paper, provides an insight into the current situaand by providing training to our employees. tion and shows possibilities for the future. Things do however need to stay realistic “Graphius already performs well in terms and financially viable. You can keep a close of sustainability. However, there’s always eye on the balance between traditional and room for improvement. This is why there are also action points and KPI’s. 100% recycled paper, and try In the following sustainabilto increase the proportion of Graphius Duurzaamheidsverslag 2014 ity report—which is planned recycled paper. The sustainfor next year—we will look at ability report is a handy tool which points were achieved, for managing this. It indicates which weren’t and why.” the explicit goal of management to strive for a better balance between ecology, The first Graphius sustainability society and productivity and report is available upon request to keep moving forward in the via email@example.com search for the best available www.graphius.com
duurzaamheidsverslag 2014 // 1
Floral Art and the Beauty
of Impermanence The difficulty begins with the name. What do you call what Daniël Ost creates? A flower arrangement? Certainly not. And still, you have the feeling that if you leave out the word ‘flower’, you leave out something essential. But what do you call it? Sculpture? Sculpture doesn’t breathe the way this does. A work of art? That goes without saying. It’s art, and it’s very clearly work. Cees Nooteboom
DaniĂŤl Ost, Floral Art and the Beauty of Impermanence, Published by Phaidon & Marot, hardback, large format, 402 pages, printed by Graphius. DaniĂŤl Ost has signed two copies of his book, exclusively for readers of Graphius magazine. Take a look at page 1 to participate.
Thereâ€™s a label to fit every jar A myriad of labels clamour for consumersâ€™ attention on our supermarket shelves. Printing wet-glue labels may be a niche, but the marketing impact of those small pieces of paper is immense. Label specialist Etiglia prints millions of labels every year for brewers, bottlers and food manufacturers. 33
delicious beer in a stylish bottle, topped with a shiny cap. A good product it may be but it won’t get sold if the label is loose, or even worse, torn. Stijn Glorieux, the wet-glue label specialist and man-of-many-talents at Etiglia, luckily enough possesses sufficient expertise to keep the margin of error down to a strict minimum: “We carry out tests with every product and we constantly monitor all the technical details. We try to guarantee a maximum tolerance of 0.4 mm.” It is also crucial for the colour to be exactly the same in each batch. “If there is a discernible colour difference between two batches, consumers wonder whether the beer has already been on the shelves too long. Our clients are aware of that. That is why we work consistently per client group.” And this is not only for beer products, because Etiglia also prints labels for wine, jam, jars of coffee, milk and much more. The name Etiglia is a contraction of the Italian words ‘etichetta’ and ‘bottiglia’, (label and bottle), to symbolise the finesse of the products that roll off the press. The company is part of Boone-Roosens and therefore also comes under the Graphius umbrella. With an in-house label department and cardboard packaging department, everything is in place to offer fully finished products. This is where Stijn’s job satisfaction lies. “You see your products everywhere, from a café to the shops, to your fridge at home. What is annoying is that you can’t resist scrutinising and comparing these products all the time.” And that’s not only annoying for him. “My wife goes mad when I go shopping with her.
I take twice as long in the beer and wine aisle as in the whole of the rest of the supermarket! Most of the time she leaves me behind while she does the shopping. (laughs)”
“You buy with your eyes. Labels with gold foil sell significantly better than traditional labels.” Stijn Glorieux
We can’t all be wine or beer connoisseurs, so consumers judge a bottle by its label. “You buy with your eyes”, explains Stijn. “Studies have shown for example that labels with gold foil sell significantly better than the same product with a traditional label.” With these embellishments it is best to listen to the needs of the client. “For refillable bottles, we only use high-wet-strength paper and we print with alkali resistant inks. This is so that our clients can avoid contaminating their rinsing baths. Changing the rinsing water always costs a lot of money. Rinsing baths of that calibre are the same size as a two-story, five-colour printing press. So, a good-sized swimming pool.” Developing the wet-glue labels is also a surprisingly complex task: “Advertising agencies often come up with fantastic ideas, which are unfortunately not always achievable in practice, or unable to be properly affixed by the end client. For labels, you always have a limited range of paper types, and this is where our expertise often comes to the fore.” It is clear that Etiglia tries to be more than simply a supplier. Stijn, who refers to the division as a city state within the company, jumps to the rescue like a Head of State if any client struggles with a setback on the production lines. “We have already intervened on a number of occasions to raise the production speed for clients. That kind of
Small improvements, great results
on-the-ground technical support is greatly appreciated.” With a digital printing press, the label specialist has, above all, the rather unique advantage of being able to offer numbered or personalised labels. For limited quantities, but also to offer a standby in emergencies: “We have already had a large client come to us after having problems with a broken laser. They urgently needed 100,000 labels with a date on them. We were able to do that for them in just one day”, says Stijn proudly.
Belgium, beer country At Graphius we welcome our visitors at fairs with a cold beer during our own happy hour. This is the perfect opportunity for networking, certainly for a Belgian company. The beer country par excellence also ensures that potential clients are never far away for Etiglia. “We have clients in the Netherlands and through De Proefbrouwerij we also
have a presence all the way up to Denmark, although most of our clients come from Belgium. Belgian breweries are springing up like mushrooms. It’s not difficult. Anyone with a big basin at home can brew beer.” OK. We’re off home now then to have a quick rummage through our cupboards. We already know where we can get our labels printed. Cheers!
Are you looking for a label printer that guarantees consistent colour quality and minimal size deviations, offers on-site technical support, and helps you to find solutions? Go to www.etiglia.be or get in touch with Stijn Glorieux at firstname.lastname@example.org or on +32 (0)479 72 22 77. Graphius is offering three lucky readers a case of Reinaert Tripel, donated by Etiglia. Go to page 1 and take part in the competition.
Symeta, print provider for all the Colruyt Group’s business units, is reaping the rewards of a longstanding relationship with Etiglia. Purchaser Frederik De Cremer says: “When our own printing press closed, after a round of interviews and in-depth testing, we chose Etiglia. Our main aim is always to purchase a high quality product that is easy to process. Since we started working together we have changed our type of paper and glue for labels. The problems we had in the past with labels have now been solved. These may be small improvements, but they have produced great results. The maintenance of rinsing baths is now done as it should be. We don’t have to do any more. Add to that Stijn’s professional advice, and the fact that we can go to Etiglia for a whole range of finishing options, and we know we’ve made a great choice. It really is a one-stop shop, which is an important factor for our continuity. We don’t want to hop from one supplier to another from job to job. That is why we consciously chose a partner that we could trust over the long-term.”
slow motion 36
Pictures from Arctica, The Vanishing North by Sebastian Copeland.
Photo © 2015 Sebastian Copeland. All rights reserved. www.sebastiancopeland.com
Sebastian Copeland has fallen through the ice, been chased by polar bears and suffered merciless winter storms. The feeling of wandering lost in a white wilderness, lashed by biting icy winds, all belongs to the heroic quest for survival that exploring nature at its wildest entails. When he is back in warmer climes, the pain has gone and only the memories remain, but his photographs can transport him right back to the Arctic to relive those sensations. And now you can share them! Copeland has collected together his most breathtaking photographs in his new book ‘Arctica: The Vanishing North’.
Photographer, explorer and environmental activist are the three words that Sebastian Copeland would use to describe himself. His first book won him the title of Professional Photographer of the Year at the 2007 International Photography Awards. Three years later, his first documentary ‘Into The Cold’ was also a winner, this time at the renowned Tribeca Film Festival. And along the way, he has also broken a couple of world records, including that for the farthest distance kite skiing in 24 hours. With his art, he hopes to be able to make a contribution to environmental awareness. The effects of global warming are most visible at the poles, but have catastrophic con-
sequences for the whole world. Copeland is an international public speaker on the climate crisis, a member of the Explorers Club and he sits on the board of Gorbachev’s Global Green USA. Sebastian Copeland has made protecting the environment his mission in life. He hopes that through his pictures, readers will fall in love with this world. Their world.
Another planet The book ‘Arctica: The Vanishing North’ is a magnificent collection of photographs from different expeditions over a period of ten years. The photos also serve as a warning: the poles are vanishing at an accelerating speed.
An alarming truth, which is painfully evident in the book. “The temperatures in the Arctic have already risen quite dramatically over the last few years”, says the Anglo-French photographer, who now lives in the States. “This trend will continue if we don’t make considerable efforts to stem it now. Global warming is a race in slow motion, and it’s happening now.” Copeland has discovered that it is no mean feat to warm people (no pun intended) to the idea that the poles need protecting. “We protect what we know and love. That is human nature. It is difficult to focus attention on the vulnerability of nature in the Arctic. For a lot of people it’s a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’. Which is of course wrong.”
Photos © 2015 Sebastian Copeland. All rights reserved. www.sebastiancopeland.com
“I fired a couple of warning shots, but my heart was beating louder than the sound of the gun.” Sebastian Copeland
© Arctica: The Vanishing North by Sebastian Copeland, published by teNeues, € 98 – also available as a Collector’s Edition, www.teneues.com Printed by Graphius. Two books are ready and waiting for readers of this magazine. To take part, see page 1.
An expedition to the Arctic is risky business. Even if it’s just because the sub-zero temperatures take their toll on the photographic equipment. But that’s not the only challenge: “The predominance of water, in frozen or liquid form, and the low angle of the sun give you a limited colour spectrum, while the bare landscape demands extremely sharp focus”, explains Copeland. “In reality, visiting the poles can best be compared to visiting another planet.” But it’s all worth it: “The combination of ice, sun and air gives you an ever-changing visual spectacle.” This is material for which a seasoned photographer like Copeland can only be grateful: nature in all its magical manifestations.
Coming eye-to-eye Despite all the challenges this entails, the charismatic artist makes every effort to photograph animals as though they just hap-
pened to pass by his lens. However, this is far from easy: “There is very little fauna in the Arctic. So every time you come across an animal, it’s a real experience. In his book, the award-winning photographer tells the story of a hungry polar bear who gave him the fright of his life: “In the pure white of the North Pole you stand out like a sore thumb. When a polar bear spotted me and made a first attempt, and then a second attempt to attack, I obviously had nowhere to go. At his third try, he came to within 3 metres of me. I fired a couple of warning shots to scare him off, but my heart was beating louder than the sound of the gun. In between, I grabbed my camera.” Copeland’s furry friend only stopped the attack when he was startled by a splash of water, the result of a fortuitous shot in a puddle. That was a very real brush with danger for our polar explorer, but it meant that he came away with some spectacular photographs.
The two faces of
Snoecks Snoecks is a true part of Flemish heritage. There is a Snoecks in every home. To my surprise, I’ve even come across one on my own bookshelf. A Snoecks from 86 no less. How it got there is a mystery: I didn’t even have a bookshelf in 1986! The Snoecks from back then contains ads for banks that no longer exist, a plethora of glamorous nudes and interviews with author Harry Mulisch and the still young godfather of art, Jan Hoet. Snoecks was a coffee table book, which, just like Playboy, one read “just for the interviews”. Editor-in-chief Geert Stadeus recalls the past with a smile: “I did use to get older gentlemen saying to me that the first naked woman they saw was on a photo in Snoecks.” Snoecks started off as a literary yearbook. Geert Stadeus: “The first edition came out 92 years ago. At the outset there was a lot of focus on Dutch-language authors, but as printing presses became more sophisticated, and the family Snoeck could deliver increasingly high quality, more photos began to appear. Tourism, literature and the like saw their space increasingly taken up by photos, and nowadays the magazine is mainly a showcase for contemporary photography.” Fast-forward to this year and it has turned into the work of over twenty photographers, which includes a series on plane crashes, women who have survived an acid attack,
a nature report on poisonous frogs and yes … as always a good helping of glamorous nudes. In the meantime, a tradition has grown up of celebrating the birth of each new Snoecks with an exhibition at the Schipperskapel in Bruges. Many of the images that appear in a relatively small format in the book can be admired at their full size there. The new Snoecks 2016, which is now in the shops, has two different covers: one version with a glamour model (by fashion photographer Tony Kelly), and a version with a flying house (by artistic photographer Laurent Chehere). They sit amicably side by side in the newsagents, each appealing to their own audience. “Everyone knows Snoecks, but not everyone sees the direction in which we are going. Tourism, sport and history have disappeared from Snoecks. We are increasingly becoming more of a photo book. That’s why we have the version with the work of artistic photographer, Chehere, on the cover.” Snoecks is available from bookshops and online at www.snoecks.be, and is printed by Graphius. Christmas shopping idea: the Snoecks photo books make an excellent gift. Editor-in-chief Geert Stadeus has set aside ten copies (five of each version) for readers of this magazine. Take a look at page 1 to see how you could be in with a chance of winning a copy of Snoecks 2016.
On the road with the
Salesians VIA Don Bosco helps youths in the southern parts of the world by offering training and work opportunities. With the magazine ‘Samen op Weg’ they keep their supporters informed of progress. VIA Don Bosco’s story began in the suburbs of Turin in 1840. The dreadful poverty there deeply moved the young priest Giovanni Bosco, better known as Don Bosco. He wanted to offer a way out for the unemployed young people who were wandering aimlessly through the streets, and he started up various projects to give them the chance to build a future for themselves. That work carries on today through his followers or ‘Salesians’, in schools, youth welfare centres and the Belgian development organisation VIA Don Bosco.
cation and there are numerous street children. The group Chicos de la Calle, which we support, works on the streets every day to win these young people’s trust. Once they have done that, they offer them the opportunity to join the project, where they learn about their rights and they get access to school canteens and healthcare, as well as psychological and social assistance.” VIA Don Bosco also tries to involve Belgian schools in their work. VIA Don Bosco likes to be extremely clear and transparent with sponsors on how those millions of euros are used, primarily through their quarterly magazine, Samen op Weg. This transparency inspires trust among private donors and gives companies ideas. “The dredging company DEME wants to dredge the Congo River in the next ten years and wants to prepare a local team to get the job done. For this, they come to us: we search for young people in high school in the Congo who are eligible for this task and offer them training at a maritime school here in Belgium.”
Etienne Vandercruyssen, VIA Don Bosco: “We try to help underprivileged young people in the south with education and work by helping with such things as investing in technical and professional schools. The Belgian government also contributes financially. For each euro donated to us, the government adds a further four. Spread over three years, we have around twenty million euros to invest.” VIA Don Bosco has projects in Benin, Bolivia, the DR Congo, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, Madagascar, Mali, Peru and Tanzania. “In some places we are involved in training a group of teachers, in others we set up a new study discipline, and in others still we build a new wing to a school building. But sometimes our work starts on the streets. In Ecuador, 14% of young people don’t finish their basic edu-
The magazine Samen op Weg is printed by Graphius. You can find further information about the organisation at www.viadonbosco.org.
interview with Hedwig De Meyer
Sharing a pack of chips with
One minute you have Deep Purple playing in a church hall in your home country and the next minute you’re building The Claw, the legendary podium for U2’s 360º Tour. Stage builder Hedwig De Meyer barely suppresses a sigh. “It’s flown by.” Time for a retrospective in the form of a book: ‘Stageco: 30 Years - From Werchter To The World’. 42
© Arne De Kneght
etallica, Guns N’ Roses, U2, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Foo Fighters … Whatever top group is doing a world tour, they are doing it on a stage built by Stageco. And it all began with a party at Werchter. Hedwig De Meyer: “Every year in July, Chiro would throw a party, on a Saturday night. I was already earning a bit with my disco bar, Flash Experience. But there was room for more. This is why I organised the first Werchter Rock & Blues Festival the day afterwards, in 1975. The tent was already there (laughs). Through Guy Mortier, I had already booked Kandahar and Banzai and we had invited Big Bill from the Leuven scene.”
tent and in 1979, we became an open-air event. We couldn’t find a stage we liked on the market. So we built one ourselves.” That first stage looked a little rough around the edges. At the front of the stage, where the singer would normally stand, there was a pole in the way, smack bang in the middle. “We built it with scaffolding materials and tubes. They weren’t sturdy enough to support the entire width of the roof. It wasn’t a good look (laughs) but we were as proud as peacocks. I still remember the trial run in my parents’ backyard. We felt like pioneers. We just stood there admiring it for a while. That’s how good we thought it was. Just like a group of kids with their first bike. The next year, the pole wasn’t there any more though.”
In 1977, Herman Scheuremans came on board. “Herman took care of the contacts and PR. I took over the organisational and logistics side. We quickly grew out of the
The division between the stage and the audience lasted quite a few years: a head-height wall made of concrete slabs. The kind you can sometimes see enclosing a vegetable patch or a football field. (he bursts out laughing) “We thought hiring fencing was way too expensive. Those concrete blocks would last for ages. What an ugly thing that was. That’s why we ended up asking Kamagurka to decorate it. Humo paid for the paint, we paid for Kamagurka. He filled the wall up with weird blokes, giant penises and random absurdities. It was hilarious but we were a bit worried about what the local community in Werchter would make of it. We had a good relationship with the priest and Chiro you see. So we painted over it. With our apologies to Kama of course.”
best thing is to work on a large scale: as many concerts as possible on large fields or sports stadiums. And to put on a good show. Bands and festivals nowadays are all about creating a unique experience. That, you can’t download. Our first major tour was Genesis, in 1987. A year later we were with Pink Floyd in Australia. From the 90s onwards, the big names would keep outdoing one other with increasingly spectacular shows. We were happy to be a part of this.” At the top end of the market, you have no competition. “For small stages, people can find others locally. But not for the top groups. The only question is: how much can they spend?” The apex of this trend was The Claw, the spider-shaped stage built for U2. It was the most expensive ever, at three million euros. “Times three: for Europe, Asia and the States. When I saw the design, my first thought was ‘impossible and prohibitively expensive’. But U2 have always been daring. It’s a real treat to be able to work for people like that.”
While you were busy perfecting the art of stage building, there was a musical revolution under way. CD sales took a hit. Was that good news for you? “Even world-famous artists in top groups had to earn their keep, and concerts became the only way to earn money. The
The band members even showered you with compliments for your work during the shows, but you don’t know them personally. “No. I’d rather keep a distance. I don’t want to appear in magazines with rock stars.” But you did share a pack of chips with Bono & Co? “At the beginning of the tour, yes. Bono told me that he had a picture of the prototype hanging up at home, with the Werchter church tower in the background.” In 2012, you came up with the XXL stage. Is this giant stage the limit of what can be done? “You can’t transport parts any bigger than these with a van or in a container. We have already used the XXL for Madonna, Rock Werchter, Hyde Park, The Wall, and Lady Gaga. We hope it’s here to stay. This price point is only affordable for the stars and major festivals. The future will show whether there’s enough demand for it.” In the meantime, you’re discovering new markets? “We are diversifying. We are increasingly working for the fashion industry. This is good for us because most fashion events take place in winter and indoors. This means that we get to keep our people in work outside the summer season.”
And in fashion, lots of people wear black too. Except perhaps without AC/DC on their backs. “Yes. There’s not really much difference! We work for creative people with an idea, which we achieve together. But on the day of the show, our people keep out of the way …” Are dance festivals an important client for you? “Dance is this century’s festival experience. Tomorrowland in Boom or Electric Daisy Carnival in Vegas are the new pioneers. A ‘things are better if we do them ourselves’ kind of attitude. Just like us back in the day. It is a completely different world to the rock scene though. It’s more assertive. For us, it took some getting used to. We were able to help the organisers when they were growing so fast that they were bursting at the seams. With dance music, the experience and the look are just as important as the music. Budgets are huge too. Electric Daisy Land has a production budget of forty million euros.” Dance has become a religion. “And God is a DJ” (laughs). Music being everything to people is nothing new though. For us, music was everything too. Woodstock and Easy Rider, listening to Radio Luxembourg at night, hearing The Small Faces for the first time, The Byrds, Françoise Hardy, Creedence Clearwater Revival. The whole world was changing, and the change was driven by this wonderful music. We are lucky to have been able to experience that.”
Five books can be won by the readers of this magazine. Take a look at page 1. ‘Stageco: 30 Years - From Werchter To The World’ was written by Geert Vandenbon and printed by Graphius. The book is published in Dutch and in English. To order: www.pinguinproductions.be
This story simply had to be told Geert Vandenbon wrote ‘Stageco: 30 Years - From Werchter To The World’. A labour of love, as he says himself, born out of the wonder at what Stageco has built up in the space of thirty years, both literally and figuratively. “Stageco and Hedwig De Meyer weren’t exactly strangers. This story goes back to my childhood fascination for concerts and festivals. In my youth I did some jobs at Rock Torhout and when I later needed logistics for my communications and events agency, for the Tour of Flanders, I found it at Stageco. It is also just a nice business, with hard working people. Hedwig De Meyer is a charming man who works with the best artists in the world, but always stays in the shadows. That is a conscious thing. He shies away from the spotlight. But you can’t fail to stare at what he has built with an open mouth. So one day I went to Hedwig with a simple brief: Stageco is a great story and it simply has to be told. And there we go. It worked! The Stageco book is a perfect trio, encompassing my love of books, events and music.”
The codes in musée
d’Orsay When Henri Toulouse Lautrec painted these two persons in 1892, and dared to exhibit the work again at an exhibition in Paris, the beau monde was scandalised. Why was that? For 21st century observers this is a mystery, because over the past century-and-a-half we have forgotten how to decipher the codes in the paintings of the past. The same lot befell ‘Olympia’ by Edouard Manet: a life-size young woman is painted naked, reclining on a bed, while in the background, a black servant brings her a bunch of flowers and a black cat sits on the bed (the audacity!). Nowadays, we see ‘Olympia’ on post cards and lunch boxes but when the painting was unveiled in 1863, Paris was too small. Why was that? Any woman in those days would have been able to tell you – blushing - that it was only too clear that the young lady was a prostitute. Their look is unabashed, they wear frilly underskirts or a cat appears somewhere in the scene. And if that doesn’t make it clear enough: “It is clear to see that these young ladies are neither married nor widows”, wrote Pierre-Joseph Proudhon with barely concealed indignation.
The ‘Splendour and Misery’ exhibition in Paris once again brings up these codes: the clothing, the looks, the archetypal wallpaper, and the small details that make a reference to prostitution. The exhibition doesn’t gloss over the misery either. When Edvard Munch painted his sad ‘Christmas in the Brothel’, it screamed loneliness. In 1850, Paris had a million inhabitants. Twenty years later its population had doubled. Fortune-seekers from the countryside streamed into the City of Light, often to encounter no more than poverty and exploitation, dreadful living conditions and epidemics, even though now, this misery seems to have been equally forgotten.
‘Splendour and Misery’ runs until 17 January at Musée d’Orsay and then moves to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. www.musee-orsay.fr Go to page 1 and win one of five catalogues or one of five duo tickets for the Musée d’Orsay.
Now, we have lost sight of these codes. Which paintings have an edgy side and which ones don’t? We easily group all of Toulouse Lautrec’s works together, but for his great retrospective in 1896, he hung a series of paintings in a separate enclosed space. Toulouse Lautrec only brought out the key for good friends. Those doors remained closed even to art collectors. Why was a lady seen from the back washing herself in a basin of water so scandalous in those days?
The catalogue to accompany the exhibitions in Paris and Amsterdam: Splendour and Misery. Pictures of Prostitution 1850-1910, published by Flammarion (hardback, 310 pages) was printed by Graphius. Henri Toulouse Lautrec, Dans le lit, 1892 (fragment).
prizes FERNAND BAUDIN PRIZE The Fernand Baudin Prize, the prize for the most beautiful Books in Brussels and Wallonia, has been initiated by graphic designers active in the world of the book. The prize is a special recognition for books with outstanding quality both in their conception and production. Out of a range of 104 books the jury selected 12 books. Four of them where produced by Graphius. Schakelpauzes, LUCA School of Arts. During the exhibition, the Studio Will be Close, WIELS Contemporary Art Centre. Film as a form of Writing, WIELS Contemporary Art Centre + Motto Books. Reweaving the Urban Carpet, ed. International Architecture Biennale Roterdam, Architecture Workroom Brussels, Province du Brabant-Septentrional.
GERMAN PHOTOBOOK PRIZE Shark, fear and beauty by Jean-Marie Ghislain and printed by Graphius wins the Deutscher Fotobuchpreis. This yearly competition organized by the Goethe Institut Philippines recognizes extraordinary photobooks.
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Published on May 24, 2017