in the Category: art

Jurgen Maelfeyt

‘We would rather sell two books elsewhere in the world than twenty at home. It’s not about sales, it’s about the artistic idea and what it can spark in a different context’. Those spontaneous sparks of ideas are what moves Jurgen Maelfeyt through the different facets of the art world. As a graphic designer, he built his own studio, Jurgen Maelfeyt Studio. Yet he also founded publishing house A.P.E, short for Art Paper Editions, bookshop and project space RIOT, and most recently 6’56”, a ‘multi-faceted playfield for graphic design’. 6’56” has been designing posters for KASKcinema since 2013, a selection will be exhibited at RIOT from October to January. We talked to Jurgen to get a grip on what’s happening within his web of projects.

Interview by Stine Sampers
Photos shot in Ghent by Sybren Vanoverberghe

Close-up to zoom-out, from KASK and RIOT in Ghent to the rest of the world, what is happening?

On the 18th of October a new exhibition opens at RIOT. We will be showing an overview of the posters we designed for KASKcinema. RIOT has become our local hub, a work and project space in our hometown where collaborators and artists can pop in and have a chat about their (and our) work. When we started RIOT, I thought I had all sorts of obligations to this space. I used to wonder: 'what would a classical art gallery do?' Soon I realized I’m not the type to be a gallerist. RIOT is more of a project space. We don’t necessarily try to sell the works, we invite artists who are cooking up something interesting that, according to us, needs to be shared. The new exhibition almost feels like an in-between project. Since A.P.E. has been absorbing most of our energy, the number of publications planned for this year is our biggest yet. Since we’ve started working with a couple really good distributors, the books go everywhere. International art book fairs have become an increasingly important part of our work at A.P.E. So we are travelling, too. Furthermore, we’re developing what we can do with 6’56” as a platform, which means the (re-)discovery of all applications of graphic design, away from mere design or marketing. 6’56” is the expansion or additional territory of the playfield A.P.E. gifted us: what else can we ‘shape’ besides books?

I used to wonder: 'what would a classical art gallery do?'

How did you move from one platform into the next? What incited them?

I feel like the most important ingredients to our story are chance and trust. When we started our graphic design studio we never thought we would end up with a publishing house, a project space and 6’56”, a multi-faceted playfield for graphic design. Just by chance we started working on books with a couple of artists and by trusting them we encountered lots of other to-be collaborators who added to our story. #APEfamily is a thing. It’s a wonderful feeling to get together at an art book fair and introduce the younger artists to experienced curators, ending up all having dinner together. Our graphic design studio just grew into this publishing house. Then RIOT happened and now there is 6’56”. It all went down pretty organic and accidental, you just have to take care of it when the opportunity arises. For example, 6’56” was born when we were invited to pitch an identity for Eurotopia, the Belgian pavilion at the Biennale for Architecture in 2018. Not interested in this kind of competition we proposed a collaboration, something much closer to our heart, and a philosophic persuasion. Graphic design is, in our opinion, always a collaboration. Between content and form, concept and references. Between the artist and the publisher. This is yet another example of how our project rose out of trust, chance and encounters. Eurotopia triggered the growth of 6’56”. We might venture into fashion for a bit, with a little help from A.P.E. collaborators Camille Vivier and Paul Kooiker. But who knows where we’ll end up next?

Graphic design is, in our opinion, always a collaboration.
Between content and form, concept and references. Between the artist and the publisher.

Gent Soiree 
18 Oct 2019 - Ghent

KASKcinema posters, 2013-2019
18 Oct 2019 - 18 Jan 2020 - RIOT, Ghent
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