Respect unveiled


There’s always a playful tension in the work of Sanne De Wolf. The Belgian artist is quite outspoken when it comes to certain evolutions in today’s society. Whether that involves feminism, religion, migration or other contemporary issues. Sanne consistently incorporates her personal opinions and feelings in her artistic work. Take her Salon des Refugiés (2016), where she worked with female refugees who after a dialogue with Sanne stitched and handworked their way straight into the MuHka in Antwerp or this year’s Sentinel project, bringing the artist to Iran’s capital Teheran. There, Sanne would build up her moment, selling her scarves at busy crossroads for fifteen minutes at a time. A guerilla sale that brought about fantastic reactions of clients that immediately fell in love with her art: a product for daily use, but a conversation starter none the less.

The words ‘playful’ and ‘tension’ are carefully chosen. Sanne’s work always involves a second meaning, a kind of double entendre that is meant to be understood, yet not necessarily needs more explanation. With her art she dares us to stretch our mind and hopes to invoke a discussion, and why not: a world of contradicting opinions. For her Sentinel project, the scarves are exactly what they are meant to be: regular hijabs so to speak, perfect for a safe walk in the park in muslim territory. Yet, upon further inspection, the print gets surrealistic dimensions. It raises questions. What exactly does the print mean? What does it stand for? Is it bold criticism, in a country that is making progress, but (to our Western eye) not fast enough? Will it empower women, in a regime that wants to silence them rather than give them a voice? Or is it a simple poetic gesture, that is yet strong enough to break the silence?

Sanne De Wolf always points out clearly what we as human beings feel deep inside, watching or reading the daily news. Through her art, she voices her own frustration and her own anger, but eventually that feeling evolves towards utter respect, imminent change, and hope. For without hope, we are nothing. A credo Sanne treasures. 

Veerle Windels, january 2019