Monique Thomaes

2018 | reflections


2018 – museum DE MINDERE – St. Truiden – B
permanent video installation


in brilliance
and light
a moment between the present and the past

entering the space the visitor becomes part of it by his own shadow

video stills

installation view

1995 | blau-äugig


1994/95, 2 parts, each 15’ colour, dv
première: CC Scharpoord Knokke, Belgium 1995

Antique sculptures photographed in Berlin’s Pergamon museum. These photos became the „raw material” for various media combinations: a photographic installation, as well as a slide projection and a video work.

Angelika Stepken
Ursula Prinz

1996 | v-ivre


1995, 2 parts, each 10’, b/w, dv
Galerie Bostoen, Kortrijk, Belgium 1996


Luk Lambrecht about the work
“The two ascetic videotapes show a ten minute sequence depicting inhalation and exhalation, taking place around the neck area of the artist.

The slowly moving, black and white self-portraits are, at first glance, not recognizable as such, but instead show a great similarity with abstract, three-dimensional texture. The video images are played back with a coarse grain; thereby results an aura of fundamental unfamiliarity and doubting concerning that which is perceived. Owing to effects of close-up’s, the pictures take on an incorporeal aspect and within the context of an art exhibition may be interpreted as gently rising, almost draped pictorial representations. They are forceful pictures because the observer is simultaneously aware of both video images; consequently life’s rhythm becomes distinctly conscious, an effect which is further emphasized by the occasional insertion of still-video pictures which thereby gives rise to short pauses during the run of the video.”

Luk Lambrecht
Angelika Stepken

installation view Niemands Adem, Temse 2005
Nationaal Museum Poznan, Polen, 1998

1997 | flux


1997, 4’, colour, sound, dv
De ongezochte Vondst, Odapark Venray, Netherlands
video installation


Out of the series observations (people, clouds, water, wind, time, light)
An observation of water in close-up, edited as an explosion.

exhibition view

1998 | point de vue

point de vue

1997, 10’50, colour, sound, dv
première: video projection Argos, Brussel, Belgium and NBK Berlin 1998
other presentations: Belgian Embassy Berlin 1998
shooting place: the Moderna Museet Stockholm during the open days before the opening of the museum


Groups of people are moving in different directions, a voice is giving some informations. The filmmaterial is manipulated: the bodies are disappearing in over-exposure, their movements are dissected into several short and long sequences. The room is not identifiable, one could speculate that they has assembled here for some specific occasion. The cuts are visible: the rhythm is given by the combination of image and sound.

– augen blenden – 1998
published in “de passage monique thomaes” vice versa verlag berlin 1998
translation by John Epstein

point de vue
… forward: The figures appear like white shades of themselves, sections left blank, a negative. Groups of figures move in different directions, advancing toward or away from one another. The room is not identifiable; one could speak of the interior of a room with a window front and then go on to speculate that a group of people has assembled here for some specific occasion. So much for the initial situation, the givens. The situation in the film is another: bodies are deleted out to light contours. Their series of movements are dissected into several long image sequences which are played back in either direction, forward and backward. The cuts represent caesuras in time and, as such, are visible. Movement in space mutates to technical movement in time. There is the time span of the video-tape (ten minutes), and there is the discontinuous time created by the broken, jagged movements which, freed from progression in actual space, drive to insanity since these images no longer spring from technical necessity but rather from pure, technically feasible, imagination. Cold, frozen time assembled piece by piece. The figures of the negative freeze in reproduction, then dissolve in fuzziness. The white shadows liquefy to a fall-out of light …

… back: In the Pergamon Museum Monique Thomaes observes how window and curtains, even the passing of the elevated train, are reflected in the glass of the exhibition display cases. Hence to her the display cases themselves appear to be ideal sculptures, transparent bodies, in that they simultaneously reveal the extensiveness of space, the outer space external to them, and even that true exterior space which is reflected via the glass pains of the window. The object undergoes a multiplication and a synchronism of appearance, the selective cognition and focalization of which are left up to the observer.

point de vue
The first photograph in history was created by the Frenchman, Nicéphore Nièpce, in the year 1827. It was entitled “Point de Vue” and it depicted a view from the window of the photographer’s study. Monique Thomaes’ most recent video work bears this same title, one which is fraught with numerous significant meanings: first of all it means “view” or “vista”, a meaning which in principle the photograph by Nièpce also includes and which encompasses the connotations of perspective, expectation, possibility, and hope; however there is another meaning to this expression which predominates above all the others and which may be translated by “point of view”, a word carrying with it the abstract connotations of viewpoint, aspect, and angle of observation. Upon closer consideration of Monique Thomaes’ works, all these aspects and levels of meaning gain both validity and relevance. The short, repetitive sequences of the video work “Point de Vue” seem like early animated photographs; the work is visually related to such predecessors both in its color scheme as well as its lack of focus. In much the same way that the first photographic attempts using the camera obscura and asphalt coated glass plates did not allow for sharpness of definition, so within the boundaries of the monitor, do the videotape’s electronic images disintegrate into vibrating “points”.

In his book “The Basic Principals of Art History”, art historian Heinrich Woelfflin observed that throughout the history of painting and drawing the dominance of line continuously diminished; it was in this phenomenon that he maintained he was able to observe the esthetic expression of a society’s successive inner, agitated states. It is in this manner that video and computer pictures, in which there are no longer lines but rather (pixels-)points, can be seen as the provisory point of termination in this line of development. Moreover, the “nervousness” of these constantly moving and striking images serves as an appropriate symbol for the frenzied rush of our time and for the outer and inner circumstance of our culture.

However, there are other reasons why Thomaes utilizes the artistic medium of video as an instrument for presenting her ideas. One overriding reason can be summed up with a sentence written by Annelie Pohlen in her article for the catalogue “Videonale 6”: “It is above all the immaterial, the illusive, that thing which cannot be defined according to temporality, location, or spatiality, or the conceptual malleable reflection concerning, yet resisting, reality, which the technical Instrumentarium video – owing also to its connection with the flow of light energy – essentially boosts. The artist herself has indicated the above with her comment: “In this form I have attempted to reach a certain immaterialness in my themes, to allow them to become fleeting.”

Monique Thomaes emphasized the important role of “light energy” (in other words light as a formative element in her work) in another context. This question of the “form of light” – in its scientific as well as philosophical dimension – was already first broached and discussed in detailed in the 13th century essay “Forma Lucis” by the Italian theologian and philosopher Bonaventura. Light as a concrete epistemological, theoretical, abstract-religious concept has, over the centuries, repeatedly played an important role in art history – among others in the history of the painting of Flanders, the artist’s homeland.

During the years Monique Thomaes has spent in Berlin, light’s representational possibilities and the processes of perception which it requires have always played an important role in her work. Thus in view of this continuing occupation with the theme of light, one may add these diverging strands in the interpretation of “Point de Vue”: “view” as the light of hope, and “point of view” as something throwing light upon an object, thereby allowing it to appear in a new light.

Light projections, time-light photographs, light reflections, and notes concerning light reflections were stations along the way to “Point de Vue”, a work which contains light flooded images of people appearing as though they have come from the heliotypic processes used by Nièpce. The corporeality of these figures seems to have been taken away; they express an atmosphere of brevity and transitoriness, this indeed being one of Monique Thomaes’ recurring themes.

During the shooting of their film concerning the first photograph of the world, which, as has been mentioned above, was entitled “Point de Vue – the view out the window”, Swiss film directors Bernhard Lehner and Andres Pfäffli were confronted with this “photo incunabulum” at the University of Texas in Austin, where it is kept. To their astonishment, they noticed that during observation of the almost invisible picture within the glass display case, outside of their own reflection there was almost nothing else to be seen.

The comment arising from this incident: “seeing and knowing – that which we don’t see is perhaps one of the secrets in image creation.” This statement could also stand as the motto for Monique Thomaes’ video creation “Point de Vue”.

1999 | femmes / messages / femmes

femmes / messages / femmes

1998-2008, 3 parts, each 3’, colour, dv

première: Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin 1999
other presentations: CC Mechelen 2006 (italian version)

Part of a work based on the photography of a plaster sculpture, a women, which was shot in Florence’s Galleria dell’Accademia. It was the basic material for a lot of photographic works and a slide-projection installation. To this diversity of images a play of French adjectives is added. Alphabetically ordened and rhythmically edited, they created images in the head, which changes by each adjective.
(3 versions: french, italian, spanish)


Leonie Baumann, Angelika Stepken, Thomas Wulffen

installation view Bethanien 1999

2001 | blue motion

blue motion

2000, 30’, colour, dv
première: video projection OEB, Berlin 2001

A succession of moving images designed in the analogue videotechnic and resulting in a meditative submersion in space and colour in a fluid rhythm.


In the staircase hall of the building I projected the videowork on a big screen placed in front of the entrance and the street: inside the silence, outside the streetnoise (passengers, cars, trains) and played them off against each other.

exhibition view

2001 | hombre


1997, 2 parts, 2’, 4’, colour, sound, dv
première: Intime Expeditionen – Badischer Kunstverein Karlsruhe 2001,
Haus-am-Waldsee Berlin 2001
video installation

Whereas in previous works static and slow-motion-effects are used, this work was the start of a new serie of image manipulation by using video-technical possibilities. a man is filmed on the cathedral place in Granada. He prepares himself for the procession. The colors are manipulated into over-exposure, his movements shortened and repeated, the rhythm decided. His motion is manipulated into a short piece of dance, of performance, showing himself. The place, the time of the day are not shown.

2002 | (e)space(s)



2000, 2 parts, each 10’, b/w, dv
première: Schloss Plüschow, Mecklenburgh, Germany 2002
video installation

Two opposite windows filmed without changing the light circumstances, each window, changing the diaphragm minute after minute. The films show the two windows progressively from the deepest darkness into disappearing in total brightness.

Angelika Stepken
Christoph Tannert

exhibition view

2003 | a cappella

a cappella

1999, 8’40, colour, sound, dv
première: Rencontres Internationales Paris-Berlin, video projection on a window in the streets of Paris 2003
and video projection in the hall at Podewil, Berlin 2003


A group of talking children filmed in a museums’ hall. The images and the sound are manipulated into a rhythmical dance and then reduced to the acoustic signals shown on the oscilloscopic display.

Distribution contact:

exhibition view Paris
exhibition view Berlin

2006 | femmes / messages / femmes

femmes / messages / femmes

installation CC Mechelen
part of the work femmes/messages/femmes (1999)
(première Berlin – Künstlerhaus Bethanien)

the text on the displays of the Cultural Center of Mechelen who shows
normally daily informations
was now replaced by the continuing play of adjectives:
alphabetically ordened and rhythmically edited,
they created images in the head,
which changes by each adjective. 
(3 versions: french, italian, spanish)

installation view CC Mechelen 2006

2006 | ochos


2004, 4’, sound, colour, dv
première: video projection Maaltecastle Gent 2005
other presentations: screening Arenbergschouwburg Antwerp, Belgium 2006
video projection


Fascination for the choreography and work of Pina Bausch is the starting point for this video work. The movement of the dancers has been observed and analysed, the physical environment extended to an architectural experience and the music reduced to a sound decor.

time / movement and counter-movement / dramastructure / silence / speed / passion / tension / superiority / balance /
constitue the vocabulary of the final result; they conduct to architectural images with an emotional and sensual tension.

video stills

2006 | breathtaking


2006, different parts, b/w dv
première: “breathtaking” 2007, Fstforward gallery, Antwerp

Video recordings of the Manhattan skyline are the starting point for this work. Hundreds of stills of this raw material are manipulated and converted into independant elements. These elements are grouped as new structures reminding to scores and choreograhpy. Time and movement are predominant: the existing architecture and its environment are subordinated to the movement, time is stretched out, tension is built up.

All these elements are flowing together into a breath-taking experience.

Marc Ruyters



1996 | de passage

de passage

Kunstspeicher Potsdam 1996
installation light projection / blue window


In the Potsdam “Kunstspeicher” a blue panel of plexiglas is placed in front of one of the gallery windows. The exterior light projected a colour intensive duplicate onto the gallery floor. Corresponding to the blue window picture in the same exhibition room “blank” slides were projected onto a large wall using three slide projectors. The slide equipment was put up in a certain distance from the projection plane so that visitors could see themselves as shadows in the rooms of light.


Brigitte Hammer
Ursula Prinz
Angelika Stepken

1995 | au lieu de

au lieu de

Parochialkirche Berlin 1995
installation display cases / blue / white glass / natural light


This installation in the “Parochialkirche” consists of twelve empty museum display cases in front of the church’s windows. In each of them two blue tinted glass plates are placed which are covered by two transparent glass plates set at a certain angle. With the movement of the spectator and influenced by the changing light the reflections and refractions flow with the observer: a “light sculpture” showing the church’s whole architecture cast in a horizontal plane through the glass plates.

2018 | the glory of the light

the glory of the light

the glory of the light
de luister van het licht
muze’um licht en landschap Roeselare
18.3.18 – 3.6.18


“the glory of the light”

a staging by monique thomaes

The architecture of MUZE’UM L challenged Monique Thomaes to draw up an art intervention in which space, light, contrast between inside and outside and the viewer are of crucial importance.

Her staging leads the light inside and invites the audience to watch. It is an interaction between observation and being perceived. Monique Thomaes studied sculpting in the Netherlands where she stayed for twenty years. The switch to Berlin has influenced her strongly: her work has evolved from sculp- ture to spatial photo, light and video installations, in which the architecture and the viewer are of crucial importance. Time, light and space are the ‘tools’ that the artist uses. No everyday instruments, but three metaphysical concepts, three ‘greats’ that transcend reality. Also the cloud constellations that she shows in photo series and video montages play an important role Thomaes not only integrates the natural light in her work, she adds ingenious light from projectors and video cameras. Light incidence and sense of space are not goals in themselves, they serve as a way of expressing an atmosphere or emotion and that always in function of man.

Conventional boundaries are broken: inside becomes outside, environment becomes work of art, object becomes subject and vice versa.

As an artist, Monique Thomaes senses these sensitivities and shows them what you normally can not see: the silence of the silence, the luster of light, emotionality, serenity, time. The emotion is realized by erasing the excesses to the essence.

Less is more. In this way her art interventions get a disarming purity.


Lut De Block
muze’umL team

2007 | lieux



1995, 3 parts, each 8’, b/w, dv
Première: CCNOA Brussels 2007
shooting place: Salzburg/Hallein 1995

A camera is statically pointed toward a large room. Gradually and successively the camera’s aperture is opened. Initially, the picture in the monitor reveals merely a narrow slit of light located at the lower edge, in appearance somewhat similar to a drawing placed upon a dark background. Slowly but surely the line fills out to a re-cognizable room volume, until ultimately in a glistening white this figure loses both its dimensions and contours and is reduced to an empty surface. An opening and a closing-up of the room/image to vision, a gentle process.
(Angelika Stepken in the book “the passage – monique thomaes” 1998)

A comment of Christoph Tannert in the catalogue “de passage”: What patience such a room needs!


Brigitte Hammer
Angelika Stepken
Christoph Tannert

  CCNOA Brussels 2007

2009 | the intimacy of space

the intimacy of space

In-Between, Antwerp, Belgium 2009

Johan Pas – abstract from his text to the Exhibition

For In-Between Monique Thomaes constructs a temporary environment about perceiving and being perceived. By doing this she tries to cross some conventional borderlines: those between art work and art audience, those between inside and outside, those between art context and art work. By putting a row of glass panels against the back wall, the wall is being deconstructed into a play of reflections. The ‘out’ is being pulled ‘in’ and vice versa. These reflections are being filmed and projected in the adjacent room. Another room contains the direct registration of the street scene. The visitors are moving in the empty exhibition space between both zones: togetherwith the images from the street they create the spectacle of reflections and projections. Two led-screens are the link between public space and exhibition space. De constant flow of words (and their reflection) generates images and ideas. It is like a score for a reflection about architecture.

Johan Pas

Johan Pas

2009 | plaatsen / lieux / spaces / orte

plaatsen / lieux / spaces / orte

Benedenzaal CC Kortrijk, Belgium 2009

In the same way as the beholder, faced with this emptiness, has an encounter with something inside himself, eye in eye with a projection of zooming into the videostills who mirror the street map of New York, in the same way the image asks for the urbanized world as a condensed place of disappearing and revival on the rhythm of our heartbeat. And this is realised out of a bird’s- eye view. Is this the view of the supposed panoptic eye? In this case we face rather an eternal researching eye. It is an eye that first of all wants to registrate. And so this eye catches the ever changing rhythm and compresses it to the abstract minimal of her regularity. As if Monique Thomaes here, in this specific spatial context, puts a selfportrait forwards. It is a portrait of a postmodern subject as the fragmented residue of an enduring visuality. Beyond every large gesture, her installation functions as the homeopathy of every pathetic sentiment. The scanty poetry of her imaging never has the intention to go into any kind of nostalgia. There’s one central thing that remains. This is what Marcel Duchamp one’s mentioned in a pointed way and in his unsurpassed French: “une optique de précison flottante”. Which we can try to translate as: “an optics of flowing accurancy”.

Joannes Késenne

2010 | ingewikkeld


2010, 2 LED displays
as part of the group exhibition „Ingewikkeld” Hasselt, Clarissenklooster
organized by Gallery De Mijlpaal


… Synonyms are different words with the same meaning …

On 2 led-displays, hanging side by side, synonyms of the words ingewikkeld(complicated) and inwikkelen(to wrap)are superposed alphabethically in a different rhythm.

In this way unattended and poetical combinations are generated again and again.

2010 | present-ed


light animation in the Loggia KMSKA
Concept Monique Thomaes
Light advice Harry Cole

Light installation as part of the third edition from Into the Light international exhibition by Error One, ( with video and light installations on public display in Antwerp South in collaboration with the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp, Middelheimmuseum, M hka, Cinema Zuid, Air and several galleries.


For Into the Light Monique Thomaes made a light installation at the loggia high on the façade of the stately Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp.

The choice of this location arises out of her interest in space, light and architecture. During the course of the project, the eleven artists’ busts are brought increasdingly into the spotlight: one by one, or in group, a powerful spotlight draws these inconspicuous images out of their niche in a theatrical and poetic way.

The architecture remains unchanged: what is already there only receives an additional accent. Passers-by are invited to look at the building in a new way.

2011 _ het ligt in jou _

_ het ligt in jou _

 light installation
part 1, 3 x 3m projectionscreen / spot / textgobo
part 2, 4 x 3m projectionsscreen / 2 spots / colourfilter

as part of the second edition from winterlicht international exhibition at the Julianapark Schiedam (NL)

several spots are directed on 2 screens, installed from each side of a lane in the park the visitors – are travelling into and through the light – become part of the work by creating shadows on the screens – activates the work

one of the spot is projecting the „title” and pronounces the content of the work.

the work is based on earlier works playing with light, time and space giving a special role to the spectator.


C. Tannert wrote about these works:
„Monique Thomaes’ on-the-spot-installations are journeys with and in light, a one-way ticket to the universal, a meditative exercise, a retrospective dream. An important stipulation of her room presentations employing light is the observer’s active experience of the room. It is exactly this correspondence which facilitates the initiation of a philosophical questioning while at the same time turning the eye inward. Silence. Opening. Now pay careful attention. Time is astray. What patience such a room needs!”

2012 | bookshowbookshop


BE-PART art center Waregem
15.4.12 – 10.06.12

Exhibition about the Belgian Artist Book
participation with the artist edition

Intimacy of space

published to the exhibition
at Gallery In-Between, Antwerp 2009
concept Monique Thomaes
text Johan Pas
co-production Gynaika

2012 | high_voltage

High Voltage

Gallery De Mijlpaal, Heusden-Zolder
parallelevent to Manifesta 9 Genk
3.6.12 – 26.8.12

participation with

_coup de foudre_
interactive light-installation
neon – high tension – sensor

The work is placed on the frontside of the gallery
behind the screen with the gallery’s logo,
thus creating a big screen-projection
every moment anyone is passing by

/minimal shifting of lightintensity/
/in a permanent dialogue/

2014 | bloed

BLOED (blood)

Landcommanderij Alden Biesen,
in cooperation with Gallery De Mijlpaal, Heusden-Zolder
05/07/2014 – 31/08/2014 group exhibition

participation with

_ bloed_stroom_

interactive light-installation
2 displays with words-play
10 glassplates 300 cm x 40 cm
2 filmprints


for the entance space of the exposition “blood” I created a provisional environment with main topic observing or being observed

– two displays are hanging on the ceiling with the back to the entering visitor
– a number of overlapping glass plates are leaning against the opposite wall

The displays shows an animation of „blood”words:
A game of broken mirrored words arises in the glass-wall.

In first instance, the spectator is confronted with the mirrored images he is invited to move into the space between the two poles (displays and glasswall). His mirror image is mixed with the flow of words. The spectator is included in the work of art.

2004 | gestes / gesten

gestes / gesten

2004, 2 parts, each 5’30, colour, dv
première: Video Festival Rencontres Internationales Paris/Berlin 2004
2nd presentation: exhibition Stippels en Pixels, Zebrastraat Gent 2005

work in progress
TV-images from the daily international news out of the period of 11.9.01 observed and noted down the images: analysed, isolated
the material: manipulated, alienated, accentuated and assembled in a succession of a hundred of stills suggesting an innocent causerie.

place, time, theme become universal

A text by Vilém Flusser is cited: this is not meant as a subtitling but the words are moving the images to an higher plane of imagination.

2007 | andante


2007 6’40 colour dv
première: video/multimedia days Antwerp, Belgium 2007
video installation
other presentations: “passie voor het ongrijpbare” St. Truiden, Museum Vlaamse Minderbroeders, Belgium 2007

The videowork “andante” is meant as an hommage to the filmmaker Ingmar Bergman.

The fascination for the monumentality of the images has resulted in different essays. Some details were taken out of the films, manipulated and assembled to a new composition where the movement and the repeating of the quiet action is creating a new visual experience.

Antwerp 2007
St. Truiden 2007

2008 | plaatsen / lieux / spaces

plaatsen / lieux / spaces

part #01, 3′, b/w

part #02, 3′, b/w

part #03, 3′, b/w

première: Artchitectuur – Monumental – Bornem, Belgium 2008

exhibition view

the work and the viewer
the existing architecture
its specific surrounding
subordinated to
movement and time
the place

2017 | present_ed: celibataire divas

present_ed: celibataire divas


2 juli – 3 september 2017
Herkenrode Refuge Hasselt

participation with

video-installation 2 parts – each 14’

critic in H ART – 6/2017 Gust Ghijsens

Hunting for wealth and power and yet conduct a spiritual life?

The exhibition »celibataire divas« shows the work of more than sixty contemporary artists who portray this eternal quest for escapisme each in his own manner.

Monique Thomaes’ video installation summarizes symbolically this mix between the aristocracy of the treasure house and the mind.
This sets the tone as a metapher for modern art shown here: the tension between religious surrender and earthly ambitions.

2005 | sea_light_see


2005, 6’15, b/w, dv
picture: belgian northsea 2005

text: weather report tagesspiegel berlin 1995
première: double video projection in the exhibition Hot-Re-Strike – Warande Turnhout, Belgium 2005

“sea_light_see points our eyes to the heavens, although the title awakens more associations to the sea. The phenomenon of bioluminescence – the illumination of the sea through millions of single-celled algae – shows a very strong relationship to the atmospheric play of lights in the atmosphere over our heads. The sun, the most important heavenly body, is our natural source of ultraviolet radiation. The large part of the radiation invisible to the human eye is absorbed by the earth’s atmosphere. It appears that the heavens can be grasped only in the veiling play of clouds”.

(Text on the exhibition by Stef Van Bellingen – Curator)

2001 | courandair


aerotecktura grosser Wasserspeicher (great water tower)
Berlin Prenzlauerberg 2001
6 synthetic pipes, ventilators, fabric


Air – the element most delicate in substance – is essential to all life. But can it be represented visually? Air can really only be felt, and usually we only perceive a lack, an impurity, or a movement thereof. A transparent pipe system slices through all the rings of the water tower in both directions (entry/exit). Ventilators move strips of cloth inside the pipes: a suggestion of how warm air is apparently being drawn in and cold air expelled.

installation view

2012 | clara 1212–2012

clara 1212-2012


historical and present interpretation

Museum De Mindere, St. Truiden (B)
18.3.12 – 17.06.12

group exhibition
participation with
– led display wiht text interpretation
– animation shown on 2 digital photo displays
and 1 control monitor

1994 | time sculpture

time sculpture

installation view

Martin Gropiusbau Berlin 1994
installation display cases / photographic paper / natural light


In a corridor of the Martin Gropiusbau 5 museum display cases were placed. Every minute, for five hours during an afternoon, a sheet of unexposed photographic paper was dated and then put it in the glass display cases. These time notations remained there until evening, free to the further processes of exposure.

When later the sheets were collected, those from the early hours were darkened, while those exposed to late evening light had hardly undergone any development.

Time was visible.

Angelika Stepken

– augen blenden – 1998
published in “de passage monique thomaes” vice versa verlag berlin 1998
translation by John Epstein

time sculpture
… repeat: Any cognition requires time, also when standing before an immovable sculpture. However in this case time is that time which the observers needs, takes, in order to establish a relation to the visible. Time, or perception, before a sculpture is latently open-ended because it establishes a kind of dialogue situation with space. The time of technical picture media is dictated. The observer follows – even if the work in question is of an “interactive” nature – the time, tempo, and rhythm of the apparatus. Before Monique Thomaes began working with the video camera’s moving picture, she observed in several experimental situations the phenomenon of light in time, as, for example, in the case of photographic direct exposures. Her studio, then in “Künstlerhof Buch“, became transformed into a camera obscura. Thomaes spread out photographic paper on the floor and observed the etchings which light created during different times of day and under various weather conditions. For her 1994 exhibition in “Martin-Gropius-Bau”, she dated, every minute for five hours in the afternoon, a leaf of unexposed photographic paper and then displayed it in one of five glass display cases. These time-notations remained there until evening, free to the further processes of exposure. When Thomaes later collected the sheets, those from the early hours were darkened, that is shadowed-over by light, while those exposed to late evening light had hardly undergone any development.

1994 | tu te souviens

tu te souviens

Künstlerhaus Berlin 1994


In this work the slides change every five minutes, each transparency showing a cloudy sky at various times during the course of a day. Correspondingly, for respectively 30 seconds each time, a text is blended in “14:40 Berlin 9.5.1993 tu te souviens”. The time of the slide presentation is identical with that time which has been photographed: namely, from 14:40 till 17:35. The “tu” in the text is essentially addressed to the spectator.

– augen blenden – 1998
published in “de passage monique thomaes” vice versa verlag berlin 1998
translation by John Epstein

tu te souviens
The relation of a single point in time to the span of time – whereby the former is always determined by the person observing – led Thomaes on in the same year to the slide projection “Lichtung”. In this work the slides change every five minutes, each transparency showing a cloudy sky at various times over the course of a day. Correspondingly, for respectively 30 seconds each time, a text was blended in “– 14:40 berlin 9. 5. 1993 tu te souviens – 14:45 berlin 9. 5. 1993 tu te souviens – 14:50…”. The time of the slide presentation is identical with that time which has been photographed: namely, from 14:40 till 17:35. This “tu” in the text is essentially addressed to the spectator – however it refers to a figure who remains simultaneously anonymous though near, thereby suggesting reliability; this being a relation, an unspecified kinship, which appears again and again in Thomaes’ works. In the confrontation between text and picture or, in other words, between measures of time and memory, Monique Thomaes alludes to a melancholy correlation to the stored photographic image. If one is able to recall a definite, meaningful event or situation by means of a picture, a reversion to events occurring in the sky is doomed to failure. Cloud constellations are momentary, just as is memory. Both these moments, – reflection upon media and upon self – which are hereby broached, appear in her following work in an evermore explicit, tension-ridden relationship …

1992 | Räume


Hackesche Höfe Berlin 1992
installation glass / natural light


A year later, 1992: an installation in a room belonging to the “Hackeschen Höfen”, which at that time had not yet been renovated. The glass plates now lie closely together, directly on the floor thus forming a large area. This work is no longer a sculpture but now refers to the volume and surface of the given room as well as to the room’s exterior space. The glass reflects inner and outer space. Owing to the glass plates’ edges, the reflection is distorted and fragmented. The empty room invites the beholder to observe.

– Construction of space and time in the light of events – 1998
published in “de passage monique thomaes” vice versa verlag berlin 1998
translation by John Epstein

Quiet strength and a highly charged emotional atmosphere are the predominant qualities which come to mind when regarding those works of Monique Thomaes which instigate the apprehension of space through examination and experience. Her sparing use of materials permits a minimal shift in the light intensity of a multi-layered process of self-reflection to activate the observer’s self-experience and to set free a grandiose quality of experience. However, the nervous system of the observer is not overly stimulated by this occurrence of the “event culture“; rather, what is increased is his abilities to feel in the manner of a cultivated and finely tuned sensibility.

In order to examine how the artist achieves this effect, an intense occupation with her procedure, which brings into the foreground complex concepts through an application of simple means, is required. At first it might appear to be a simple matter when, in 1992, the artist laid down on the floor of a room in the then still un-renovated “Hackesche Hšfe“ (a late nineteenth-century living and business complex located in the district of Berlin Mitte) plain, rectangular-cut glass plates; the effect, however, was astounding; yet it was not astounding only owing to the fact that the visitor was initially unsure as to whether he may walk into a room with such a floor covering.

The mirroring of the windowpanes on the floor depicted not only the light falling in through the wall’s outer opening, but also the window’s form as well as the constant transformation of reflection caused by the continuous increase and decrease of light intensity in the outer room, this latter being a process which usually is unnoticed because it occurs “un-reflected“. What is interesting here is that the observer can only become conscious of and discover such processes when he is willing to surrender himself to the act of observation for a good amount of time; the reason for such patience is that, as a rule, the changes are more likely take place – allowing for the fact that thunderstorms or similar dramatic weathers events are not happening – slowly and progressively.

– augen blenden – 1998
published in “de passage monique thomaes” vice versa verlag berlin 1998
translation by John Epstein

A year later, 1992, Monique Thomaes constructed another installation in an at that time still not renovated room belonging to the “Hackesche Höfe”. The glass plates now lie closely together and directly on the floor thereby forming a large jointed area which allows only a narrow space of maneuverability about the room. This work no longer has any sculptural, corporeal character; rather, it now refers to the volume and surface of the given room as well as to the room’s exterior space. The supporting capacity of the architectural base is visually canceled out; the glass covered floor becomes the room’s picture/the picture’s room. It is both a sensitive substance and a mirroring surface. The glass reflects both inner and outer space: the ceiling, the radiator, the mullion and transom, the building on the opposite side of the street. Owing to the glass plates’ beveled edges, the reflection is distorted and broken up. The empty room invites one to peek in. It is illuminated by natural light changing according to whether conditions and the sun’s position during different times of the day and thereby permitting the reflection on the floor to wander. Time moves the transparency, almost as a photograph, or a moving image. It is simply that this supporting material, or rather the medium used in this room installation, has not the storage capacity of celluloid; therefore manipulation of the image is not possible …

1991 | heute


Künstlerhaus Bethanien berlin 1991
installation / glass / wood


The installation exists in a glass square: 4 x 4 quadratic glass plates are supported by 5 x 5 wooden cubes. The cubes are not like a pedestal, they are integrated into the sculpture. There is tension between the fragile glass plates and the wood, tension between materiality and immateriality. Wood carries glass. In the same space a second sculpture was installed, based on the same principles, but reversed: glass carries wood.

… back: In the beginning a sculpture stood here: quadratic four by four glass plates were supported twelve centimeters above the floor by five by five wooden cubes: a strict geometric order comprised of single components and which is, in principle, expandable. Formally and materially the work combines dichotomies: bodies and surfaces, opaque and transparent materials, and the principles of the post-and-lintel system. It is without a pedestal – unless one would like to consider the load-bearing wooden cubes as a pedestal, even though they are integrated into the sculpture. One observes the sculpture from above and consequently sees the levels of glass-plates as creating ambiguity too: they lead one’s glance down towards the floor while at the same time displaying the pictorial qualities of a reflecting surface. Another aspect of the sculpture’s visual impression is created by light: it both falls through the glass plates and is reflected back by them; it becomes absorbed by the black wooden cubes. Material and immaterial appearances balance each other out. In addition to this minimalist quality, the sculpture also has something playful about it, like a box of building blocks which, in a manner of reduction or extension, can be added to and built upon in numerous ways.

exhibition view
exhibition view

2010 | move_d


CC Ter Vesten, Beveren-Waas, Belgium 2010
Chapel Vrasene
4 tables/plexiglass/video installation


Stefaan Van Biesen
text to the exhibition – abstract

“… Monique Thomaes considers the architectural space as an integral part of her work.
A dialogue emerges between thinking, place and image. The artist improves space with a minimalistic zen attitude an lets the public participate its marvel.

For her installation she takes existing elements from the chapel, transforms them using light and projection and adds them back to the space.

So she filmed all the stained glass windows with increasing and decreasing exposure times – from dark to light to dark – and selected therefrom the ovals containing different personages and situations.

The video-montage, projected on the front-wall, resembles a portrait gallery: sculptures in a shining ebb and flow, as if the shining and disappearing of the visible were a metaphor for the changing and elusive light in space.
The same light coincides with the reflection of the seven stained glas windows on the four tables placed in the chapel and breaks on the blue plexiglass surface on the tables.
The image becomes an architectural abstraction: it is spread horizontally, exhibited and moved from the window to another place in space.

It is an invitation to look in another way to a space one thinks to know.”



2 juli - 3 september 2017 Herkenrode Refuge Hasselt groupexhibition participation with present_ed video-installation 2 parts - each 14’