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Letter in Support of Els Silvrants-Barclay

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To Whom It May Concern,

We the below signed artists are writing in support of Els Silvrants-Barclay.

As artists who have all worked directly with Els over the years through different capacities and institutions, we wanted to communicate our experience with her. We find this particularly important following her untimely departure from her position as co-director of Netwerk Center for Contemporary Art, in Aalst. While the circumstances of this abrupt departure are certainly troubling, we don’t wish to comment on them here. We do hope, however, to counter any impression that such abruptness might have misrepresented.

Els has worked tirelessly for art and particularly for artists in facilitating the realization of their work and its relationship to the public. She has used her position to be an outspoken and strong advocate for independent artistic practices and the urgency of their institutional and political support, consistently working against all types of precarity, exclusion, and unfairness that she’s encountered. Els is not a hands-off director/ curator/ team member- she gets involved with the projects she takes on, to try and consider all aspects- conceptual, discursive, aesthetic, practical...- in order to interrogate what an artistic project does- for the public, for the local context, for the state of art in general. In a contemporary environment where neo-liberal tendencies are often in the headwinds, Els has often taken on these tendencies, not out of self-interest but out of a strong ethical compass and a belief in supporting art’s potential for modeling and experimenting with notions of autonomy, inclusion, and community.

Els has repeatedly demonstrated an ethic that artists should be in closer conversation with each other, that the trend towards the hyper-individualization of artists should seek to find alternatives, and that hierarchies between institutions and artists should be at all levels questioned.

Few have approached their work with as much enthusiasm and genuine love for the work and respect for the people that make that work possible than Els, and so we write with gratitude for the ways in which she has made our work possible, made it better, and more relatable without any sacrifice of its complexity.

We also write to wish Els the best in her next endeavors, to wish that she will be able to continue this important work in other places moving forwards, and to publicly state our support for her in that future.


Danai Anesiadou

Pedro Barateiro

Sirah Foighel Brutmann

Hans Bryssinck

Ash Bulayev

Gaia Carabillo

Robrecht Desmet

Alison M. Friedman

Ronny Heirmans & Katleen Vermeir

Mette Ingvartsen

Tamás Kaszás

Jean Bernard Koeman

Chrysanthi Koumianaki

Wouter Krokaert

Lucy McKenzie

Vincent Meessen

Christophe Meierhans

Karthik Pandian

Diederik Peeters

Anna Rispoli

Imogen Stidworthy

Tea Tupajić

Robin Vanbesien

Jozef Wouters

Andros Zins-Browne

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