DIETER DE LATHAUWER. I LOVED MY WIFE
With I Loved my Wife, this young artist, trained at KASK, Ghent, takes us to little-known corners of one of the darkest pages of history.
On trips to Austria between 2012 and 2015, Dieter De Lathauwer chose to understand the landscape via the scars left by the second world war.
At first view these are just buildings surrounded by lawns, with only a bay of the facade visible, a wall or a few windows.
Sometimes masked by dense foliage, the subject seems to hide from view. It can only be approached on tiptoe, after prolonged observation. The artist has taken care to avoid any spectacular element and, image after image, to plunge us into a deaf, icy universe.
These structures, at once mundane and austere, are none other than the psychiatric institutions which, during the Nazi period, became the theatres of mass killings. From 1939 onwards, a series of euthanasia campaigns in Germany and Austria led to the deaths of patients with psychiatric problems, including many children. Hundreds of thousands of victims, considered as inferior because of their mental issues and ruled to be a cost to society, were killed by the medical staff themselves. This is the case described by a Nazi propaganda film, where a man declares that he sacrificed his wife for the good of the fatherland, from which the title “I Loved my Wife” is drawn.
The exhibition presents both the artist’s photographs and archives of the period in a visual and sound installation. Dieter De Lathauwer hints at more than he reveals of the terrifying past of these places which are still in use today, and captures the profound silence that cloaks them with reserve and intelligence.
Dieter de Lathauwer (1978) lives and works in Ghent.
His work has been shown on several occasions in personal and collective exhibitions (Wewantosee, Museum of contemporary art, Kanazawa, Japan, 2016; Conversations Rooms, Zebra, Ghent, 2015; Sense of place, Bozar, 2012; Landscape Night, Recyclart, 2012, Introduction à l’aventure du rêve lucide, FOMU, Antwerp, 2010, etc.)
He is also the author of two photographic works: Nightlife and Sado, self-published in 2013.
Dieter De Lathauwer has received a number of prizes and honours including “Bozar Photography Award”in 2012, appeared in .TIFF, the magazine published by FOMU in Antwerp, and won the “Unseen Dummy Award Amsterdam” in 2016 with I loved my wife, which will be the basis for a print publication 2017.