In the run-up to the Chambres d’O living room festival, we look forward to a performance every week. This week we talk to visual artist Maaike Leyn (47), who will shed light on the podcast she makes about the artist Liliane Vertessen during the festival. She does this in her own home on Sportstraat. Or how a remarkable installation in the attic can sometimes lead to unexpected events.
In the early 1980s, Maaike Leyn’s parents-in-law invited the Limburg artist Liliane Vertessen to their home to install an erotic room with belts, neon and erotic photos. Only family friends got to see the work, and it later ended up in the attic. Forty years later, Maaike took the work from the attic because the family didn’t really know what to do with it. “My friend wondered what we should do with it, and it was definitely not the intention to decorate an erotic room ourselves,” laughs Maaike.
“The work came here eighteen months ago. Because I often listen to podcasts myself and would like to make one myself, Liliane Vertessen’s work seemed like an interesting topic. I wanted to find out who the artist really is. I first followed a course to learn how to make podcasts. I made the first two episodes, and I am now developing it further with the support of the cultural center De Grote Post”, says Maaike.
The idea not only led Maaike to Liliane herself, but she also spoke to people who had recently bought a work by Liliane and to her own mother-in-law. “In the beginning I didn’t dare bother Liliane too much. She’s a very likeable woman, but it’s strange to hold on to someone’s past. He is truly a special person,” says Maaike. Liliane Vertessen made erotic images of herself in various poses and incorporated these images into multimedia installations. This is no longer a surprise, but it was different 30 years ago.
“The 1980s were a hypocritical time. The wife of the then director of Mu.ZEE tells in the podcast that the director was not allowed to buy Delvaux’s work at the time because it showed nudity. Liliane also told herself that when she exhibited in her own municipality, the women pulled posters from the wall. It really wasn’t accepted. But Liliane just did what she wanted and thought people had nothing to say about it. It’s still a relevant theme. After all, Liliane came from a working-class family where people had to work very hard. She also had to contribute a lot to the family and was expected to be a good housewife.”
Maaike’s parents-in-law also contributed to the podcast themselves. “My friend’s father, who had the work installed, has since passed away, but my mother-in-law is still alive. She also contributed to the podcast and talks about how they got to know the work and the artist. My friend’s brother and sister thought it was strange at the time what their parents had installed. They were already teenagers then. My friend was about twelve years old and sometimes showed it to friends. Of course they thought it was exciting”, laughs Maaike.
“There was an erotic work of art in the attic of my parents-in-law”
During Chambres d’O, Maaike will play new pieces from his podcast. She also talks about the origin of the story. She receives the public in her own home in the Sportstraat. She moved from Ghent to Ostend eight years ago, but comes from Kortemark. “In recent years, we have also opened our house for a performance, but this is the first time that people have come after me. It’s exciting, because normally you only listen to a podcast and now I see immediately how people react. The people who are presented also come to visit, so it will certainly be a special experience to see what they think.”
The work is not yet visible
People will not be able to discover the work itself during the living room festival. “The work will be exhibited in Mu.ZEE in May,” explains Maaike. “I don’t want to show this, because we can’t show it properly. Originally it was a really dark room with the neon lights and the erotic images of Liliane. I also want to keep the excitement of what it looks like somewhere so that visitors will still be able to discover it in Mu.ZEE.”
You can join Maaike Leyn’s Lilian-eum on Saturday February 4 at 11 and 19 at Sportstraat 16. She will present new pieces from her podcast to the public and project the text at the same time. She will also give a preliminary account of the research. There are already two episodes of the podcast online for those curious about the story. Maaike’s intention is to end with seven episodes. She receives technical support from De Grote Post to develop her podcast. Those who want to hear more are welcome on Saturday 4 February. A ticket costs 8 euros and the performance lasts 80 minutes. You can order tickets via https://chambresdohuiskamerfestival.be.
03 east chambres maake leyn lb2