Alexandra Crouwers is a visual artist and artistic researcher in the digital realm, working as an experimental film maker, media art explorer and writer, and is currently externalising eco-anxiety in relation to new mythologies through virtual quackery.
My work is concerned with deep time, deep ecology, and deep technology, with a focus on digital media (art forms such as photogrammetry and AR, 3D animation, CGI, ‘the internet’, consumer technology, and blockchain) and spatial installations. Special interest goes to the tension and connection between escapism x activism.
Between October 2019 and 2023, I’m a doctoral candidate at the Associated Faculty of the Arts of Leuven University and LUCA School of Arts (Belgium), focusing on the collapse and regeneration of a former family forest that fell victim to a climate- and ecological crises induced bark beetle infestation.
As such, I’m part of the deep histories fragile memories research cluster in the Intermedia research unit. The PhD is supervised by Wendy Morris.
In this context, artistic research is considered as informed imagining.
Outline of the doctoral research trajectory.
In 1964, my grandfather acquired a hectare of land, covered in spruce saplings. Over the course of the decades, these grew into a patch of forest: dark, dense and silent. It was left alone, until heat and drought stress came in effect and ground water levels started to drop while nitrogen levels were rising.
The little forest degraded, and became host for the European spruce bark beetle: Ips typographus.
In the Fall of 2019 all spruce had died, and the forest was cleared. The clear-cut transformed into The Plot in my PhD trajectory.
The Appeal of The Unreal is a working title, referencing the dioramic gaze: an observational method relating to purposeful inaction as action, and radical un-interactivity.
Peer reviewed article for VIS Nordic Journal for Artistic Research issue #6, themed Contagion, published October 2021. This Research Catalogue exposition – a multimedia online publishing platform – was awarded 2nd place at the Annual Prize for Excellent Research Catalogue Exposition 2021 by the Society for Artistic Research. Language: English.
Peer reviewed article for FORUM+, volume 29, issue nr. 2, published online and in print in May 2022. Language: Dutch.
HD, colour/sound, 20’20”, 2020
Wednesday, April 29, 02020 anno covidii, I was supposed to give a talk over lunch at the end of my two months involvement in Residency Unlimited in New York. This, of course, took place in another universe.
Instead, after two weeks while the world installed the first pandemic related lockdowns, I flew back home to Belgium.
As an alternative, I produced this PowerPoint-on-steroids, outlining my research at that stage.
Information panel (print on dibond mounted on wood, QR code, 118 x 71cm) in custom weathering steel frame, 2022. Permanent installation at The Plot (NL).
Five information panels, print on dibond, mounted on wood, QR codes, 118 x 71cm, 2021. Placed in the public Park Brialmont (Antwerp, Belgium) during the Summer and Fall of 2021.
12″ 180 grams black vinyl record, recto: 33rpm/45rpm audio, verso: engraving. Sewn felt sleeve, 60×60 folded poster, 30×30 inlay, 2020.
A selection of talks and lectures, participation in seminars and conferences, and research related tutor assignments.
VSAC / Visual Science of Art Conference, Louvain (BE)
Botanical Bodies, On the political and ritual meaning of plants, Netwerk, Aalst (BE)
Research residency at RU, New York (US)
The Plot, The Compositor, and Mourning/Mistakes. Peer reviewed publication for VIS Journal for artistic research #6.
The Plot. Seminar as part of the Regenerative Aesthetics course by Volkmar Mühleis at LUCA, Gent (BE).
Digital Dimensions. LUCA School of Arts, Brussels, animation and film department. A course exploring digital developments in moving image.
Presentation at Unconference, Digisoc at BAC, Leuven (BE).
De Letterzetter. Peer reviewed article for Forum+vol. 29 nr. 2.
Lecture and discussion as part of the Research in the Arts class by Wendy Morris and Laurens Dhaenens for the LUCA audiovisual arts department, Brussels.
Loops: The snake biting its own tail, Groundhog Day, and the Infinity Cage, lecture and artistic presentation for Re:anima, LUCA School of Arts, Genk (BE).
Rooted Encounters / Fields, Forests and Other Imaginings, symposium of research cluster dhfm at LUCA, Brussels and Middelheimmuseum, Antwerp (BE).
Tutor/advisor master’s papers Film, LUCA, Brussels.
Artist talk Academie Noord, Brasschaat (BE).
Throughout the years, I’ve published series of columns – most recently on NFTs in relation to contemporary fine art –, exhibition reviews, essays, and exhibition texts. Some are in Dutch, others are in English. A selection:
Limited column series, published on the website of Belgian art magazine HART.
“In a fairly recent development, digital art can be traded and collected in editions through NFTs. Starting from her own digital artistic practice, Alexandra Crouwers is building up a collection of works both by established artists and anonymous creators. In this column, she highlights a new piece from that collection each time.”
As it turns out, much of the turmoil surrounding the NFT—the non-fungible token, often erroneously dubbed crypto-art—arises from a wide range of misunderstandings. Since Spring 2021, I’ve actively been exploring the phenomenon from the perspective of my professional artistic digital practice, which took off in 1998 with a discarded office computer and CorelDraw. This resulted not only in an explosive network expansion but also in a growing digital art collection. As with all things, this virtual field is endlessly more nuanced than it may appear from the outside.
Lorna Mills is a monument of .gif-art and a connoisseur of the inappropriate. Mills descends into the catacombs of the internet only to surface with disturbing, comical, creepy, and slightly offensive artefacts in the shape of roughly cut .gif-animations.
In 1966, the now legendary Destruction In Art Symposium (DIAS) took place in London. The event was centred on destruction as a performative act and featured, amongst many others, Yoko Ono’s famous Cut Piece, where the audience was ‘invited’ – with the aid of a pair of scissors – to cut up and tear the artist’s clothing.
The internet is populated with fabricated identities. In some cases, only the maker’s user name is known, calling to mind the theatricality of performance pseudonyms such as Peaches, Lux Interior or Snoop Dogg. Fictional identities are the smoke machines of our social media stages.
Jeffrey Sconce connects technology and the exploration of supernatural phenomena in his book Haunted Media. Electronic Presence from Telegraphy to Television (Duke University Press, 2000). Invisible forces of nature, such as static electricity or the disembodied voices traveling through the ether by means of radio-waves, are made detectable through equipment acting as mediums.
This header collects a selection of writings: either self-published online, as part of a research project, or in the context of exhibitions.
The text uses Charles and Ray Eames’ iconic film The Powers of Ten to move between some of Richardson’s and Sassoon’s works.
The more things change, the more they remain the same.
(Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose) – Alphonse Karr.
Born as a lament for the loss of a particular taste and a real costumer complaint that fell on deaf ears, this text became part of the peer reviewed publication The Plot, The Compositor, and Mourning Mistakes (2020-2021).
Frustrated by another round of culture budget cuts, this text attempts to reconstruct the reasoning of the Flemish and Dutch governments in relation to the arts. Published in 2020 on the website of E-tcetera, magazine for performance arts.
Much of my body of work manifests on-screen as experimental digital animation.
I’m a super-user of digital means, and a virtual hoarder. The x, y and z axes of my software shape my main studio. My work involves 3d animation, .gifs, audio, machine woven tapestries, open air sculptures, QR-codes that lead to custom websites, photogrammetric models, and text.
In relation to my research trajectory, much of my work is produced with this quote in mind:
Here’s the paradox: If the scientists are right, we’re living through the biggest thing that’s happened since human civilization emerged. One species, ours, has by itself in the course of a couple of generations managed to powerfully raise the temperature of an entire planet, to knock its most basic systems out of kilter.
But oddly, though we know about it, we don’t know about it. It hasn’t registered in our gut; it isn’t part of our culture.
Where are the books? The poems? The plays? The goddamn operas?
(…) I mean, when people someday look back on our moment, the single most significant item will doubtless be the sudden spiking temperature.
But they’ll have a hell of a time figuring out what it meant to us.
Bill McKibben in What the warming world needs now is art, sweet art.
A selection below:
vertical HD (1080x1920px / 9:16), colour/audio, 12’00”, 2022. Below: Chapter 1. The Anthem for the End of the World as we Know It.
“Who would’ve thought the end of the world
would look like mowed lawns,
a holiday to Greece,
or a new pair of jeans?”
“what a fascinating film–i’ve never seen anything quite like it. i’m very glad to have played a small part in inspiring it!” – Bill McKibben, January 2023.
Above: installation view at Collectie DE.Groen, Arnhem, 2022.
Vertical 4k video (2.160 x 3.840px, 19:6), colour/audio, 4’20”, 2022 + HD video, colour/silent, 6’00”, 2020-2022. Pink light, custom bean bags, curtain
Each self-help trajectory starts with the subject finally taking responsibility: acknowledge the problem, and accept one’s role in it. Only then, the healing can commence.
Complicit uses the visual cues and auditive tropes of new age meditative spaces to nudge the visitor into accepting collective blame concerning the ecological and climatological system crisis. It’s an attempt to address the global crisis as a shared mental blockade that first needs solving in order to finally move on to tackling the issues at hand.
Needless to say the installation is massively confusing: a harsh message wrapped in soft light, comfortable seats, and a soothing soundtrack.
Single screen HD video loop, colour/audio, 2’00”, 2022
‘The White Hide [v]’ centers on two deer that are locked in a perpetual fight. Their hypnotizing dance is set in a grand vista at dusk, reminiscent of Romantic era landscape paintings. This sublime and utterly desolate view is contrasted with the holographic appearance of the deer, questioning the ‘realism’ of the scene. Where – or ‘when’ – are we, exactly? Is the viewer presented with an echo of a distant past or a glimpse of a dystopian future where wildlife is reduced to simulations?
In March 2021, I became aware of NFTs. I started to experiment with the Tezos blockchain: a more sustainable alternative to Ethereum.
To digital born works, NFTs provide a partial solution to certifying files – whether they are .jpegs, code, or elaborate films – and an accessible way to distribute and trade art. A vivid and exciting scene arose. I’m proud to have experienced the first Hic et Nunc platform and, after its discontinuation, was part of the subsequent emergence of the Teia platform.
Just as important as the possibility of selling art through NFTs is the collecting of other artist’s work. In line with my own body of work, my collection is focused on moving image and art x ecology.
NFTs from my collection are also used as an entrance for a series of short columns on digital art forms, published on the website of Belgian art magazine HART.
Three gobelin woven tapestries, (organic) cotton, wool, viscose, acrylic, 162 x 296cm, 2019. With support of Textielmuseum Tilburg, Kunstloc Brabant, Mondriaanfonds, and DeBuren, Brussels.
The three tapestries of The Three Motions of Loom departed from two fragments of Wildevrouw, Belgian author Jeroen Olyslaegers’ novel-to-be (publication by De Bezige Bij in December 2020).
Wildevrouw is set in 16th century Antwerp, on the verge of the Middle Ages and modernity. At the time, The Southern region of The Netherlands was the epicenter of the tapestry industry.
In an attempt to make artistic additions to the internet and consumer technology, I submitted two emoji proposals to Unicode.
Both stone tool and hand stencil were declined, even though I argued their conceptual merits would outweigh their projected limited use. Hand stencil, in particular, honors the first universal pictogram.
3-channel video installation, HD1080, b/w, sound, 10’00”, 2014/2015
‘Inertia’ is a homage to dystopian science fiction, the word referring to the slowdown in a pendulum movement. The work is a digital animation, entirely constructed with 3D software.
The viewer visits an abandoned and lifeless planet – ours? In this barren desert, a large bunker like building contains remnants of a lost civilization. In large glass cases, possible scenarios of the destruction of the planet are preserved. Hints of what might have happened are hidden in the film.
FeralVerse. Curated by blockchain poetry collective theVerseVerse for the digital art/NFT platform Feral File.
Collecting took place between April 6 and 16, 2023. Includes ‘Some Last Questions’ by poet Victoria Chang, interpreted by me.
Victoria Chang x Alexandra Crouwers, Lillian Yvonne Bertram x Dina Chang, P. Scott Cunningham x Connie Bakshi, John James x Soliman Lopez, Seth Bockley x Helena Sarin, Denise Duhamel x Diane Drubay, Ana Maria Caballero x Nancy Baker-Cahill, Kalen Iwamoto x Julien Silvano, Sasha Stiles x Nathaniel Stern, Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello x Gretta Louw
FeralVerse is an anthology of multidimensional poems that embody theVERSEverse’s mission to explore the myriad ways in which words and image intertwine, growing together. Since 2021, our collective of poets, artists and technologists has explored the creative potential for composition and publication via blockchain, a realm where writers are empowered to transact their work, transcend the printed page, and collaborate with each other. Our Feral File offering — the first exhibition of verse on this platform — is planted here as a seed for the poetry journal of the future, in which authorial imagination is unbounded, language and art exist in symbiosis, and every contributor is a vital force in a literary ecosystem in which connection to verse can lead to collection. In celebration of both National Poetry Month and Earth Month, the texts published here as non-fungible Tezos tokens – each a collaborative performance between writers and artists at the avant-garde of web3 poetry, including some of the planet’s most renowned voices – reflect diverse perspectives, aesthetics, and approaches to the worlds around us and inside us, always in flux. Every work invites its reader to step into a reality augmented through the art of poetry, and to engage deeply with the untamed universe of possibilities for writers on (and off) the blockchain. In true literary form, FeralVerse will be initially offered as an anthology — simultaneously a multiplicity and a unified body — to collectors.
Who Is Online? Are we still wondering who is online, or do we already know that we may soon have to ask ourselves what is not on the blockchain and can be traded as NFT? At a time when the production and collecting of art online has become a game, often based on opaque rules and promises, artists are using blockchain and NFTs to address this loss of control and the potential applications of a new technology.
The exhibition Who Is Online? Game Art in the Age of Post-NFTism, curated by Anika Meier, presents works that critically comment on the new online art world, in which blockchain and NFTs with their game characters have long since become a matter of course.
Artists: UBERMORGEN | Jonas Lund | Mitchell F. Chan | Alexandra Crouwers | Rachel Rossin | John Gerrard | Theo Thriantafyllidis | Ziyang Wu | Lawrence Lek | Kenny Schachter | Sarah Friend | Kevin Abosch | Simon Denny | LaTurbo Avedon and more.
Is it a spectacle, a scientific illustration, a children’s toy or a therapeutic tool? Originally conceived as a sophisticated, painterly light show at the interface of art and entertainment, dioramas have been a favourite visual aid in natural history museums since the early 20th century.
This form of presentation, combining painting techniques, scenic solutions and optical illusion, is intended to illustrate a scientific or anthropological result or theory to the public in a delimited box space, creating the illusion of reality, as an immersive installation. The diorama appears in all artistic forms, yet it is a rarely discussed concept.
Curators: Zsuzska PETRÓ, Jan ELANTKOWSKI
ALBERT Ádám | BABOS Zsili Bertalan | BP. SZABÓ György | Alexandra CROUWERS | Mark DION | Nathalie DJURBERG & Hans BERG | Daniel ERNST | Janie GEISER | GOMBOS Andrea | Eva GONGGRIJP | GWIZDALA Dáriusz | ICKO Dávid | KARÁCSONYI László | Tomasz KULKA | OVÉ PICTURES (Veronika OBERTOVÁ & Michaela ČOPÍKOVÁ) | PISTA HORROR | Curtis Talwst SANTIAGO | Wieland SCHÖNFELDER | Tracey SNELLING | SZABÓ Eszter | SZAUDER Dávid | SZÖLLŐSI Géza | TRANKER Kata | UJHÁZI Péter
While artworks signed by a man increase in value, they decrease in value if they are signed by a woman. “Alex/andra Crouwers” is part of Unsigned, a conceptual artwork by Operator and Anika Meier and collection of signatures from 100 women and non-binary artists.
UNSIGNED is bringing in the new year in downtown LA (DTLA) with a video billboard featuring 100 signatures from women and non-binary artists created to reverse the ongoing negative value of the signatures through their transformation into artworks themselves. A project by Operator and Anika Meier, on view until December 31st.
ARTISTS: Ada Ada Ada | Addie Wagenknecht | Aleksandra Jovanić | Alex/andra Crouwers | Alida Sun | Ana Maria Caballero | Angie Taylor | Ania Catherine | Anika Meier | Ann Ahoy | Anna Carreras | Anna Ehrenstein | Anna Lucia | Anna Ridler | Anne Spalter | Arvida Byström | Auriea Harvey | Ayla El-Moussa | Bea | Carla Gannis | Chanel Verdult | Christa Sommerer | Claudia Comte | Claudia Hart | Colette Robbins | Connie Bakshi | Daria Jelonek | Dejha Ti | Diane Drubay | Eleni is bored again | Emily Xie | Erin McGean | Evelyn Bencicova | Faith Holland | GISELXFLOREZ | Giulia Bowinkel | Gretchen Andrew | Gretta Louw | Harriet Davey | Helena Sarin | Hermine Bourdin | Iskra Velitchkova | Ivona Tau | Ix Shells | janice mascarenhas | Jenni Pasanen | Judy Mam | Julia Beliaeva | Kalen Iwamoto | Kate the Cursed | Kelly Richardson | Klara Vollstaedt | Lapin Mignon | Lauren Lee McCarthy | Linda Dounia | Linda Loh | Lisa Orth | lizvlx | Lorna Mills | MABLAB | Margaret Murphy | Maria Pleshkova | Marjan Moghaddam | Martha Skinner | Martina Menegon | Melissa Wiederrecht | Michelle Thompson | Mieke Marple | Mikey Woodbridge | Mona Ardeleanu | Nancy Baker Cahill | Nengi Uranta | Nicole Ruggiero | Nye Thompson | OLGA.F | Olga Fedorova | Primavera | Rhea Myers | Rose Jackson | Sam Clover | SamJ | Sarah Friend | Sarah Meyohas and more.
NGMI, solo show at Collectie DE.Groen in Arnhem (NL). June 11 – September 11, 2022. Including Bits & Pieces, a continuous video program with a selection of moving image works from my NFT collection.
NGMI stands for ‘not gonna make it’, an expression often used for bad investments in the crypto sphere but here, it covers post-pandemic sentiments towards the ecological and climatological system crisis.
The exhibition encompassed three video spaces and the presentation of tapestries in the beautiful atrium of DE.Groen.
Time and Again, group show at Museum M, Leuven (BE). May 6 – August 28, 2022. Curated by Melanie Bühler (Frans Hals Museum, NL).
Curator Melanie Bühler selected twelve artists out of 340 submissions for the ’transhistorically’ themed ‘Open M: Time and Again’: Daniël Bellon (1976), Paul Bogaert (1968) en Jan Peeters (1978), Ralph Collier (1990), Josefien Cornette (1994), Alexandra Crouwers (1974), Joke De Pever (1993), Laurence Durieu (1972), Bram Rinkel (1996), Witold Vandenbroeck (1994), Danny Vandeput (1974), Jean-Luc van IJperen (1981), Muriel Verbist (1971).