Godart Bakkers and Laura Herman appointed new artistic directors at Netwerk Aalst



© Kaat Pype

Godart Bakkers and Laura Herman will take over as artistic directors of Netwerk Aalst from Pieternel Vermoortel starting in April 2023. Over the past six years, Vermoortel has made Netwerk a relevant place for experimentation and cultural exchange, with a focus on artist practices and citizen initiatives, and especially on the synergy between the two. She is currently Senior Curator at Steirischer Herbst in Graz. 

The new artistic leadership will continue to develop the course of Netwerk by refining its artistic and film programme. Their efforts will be guided by a commitment to honouring Netwerk’s local significance while also ensuring its international relevance. Additionally, the duo aims to revalue the organisation’s original mission and give young artists the space to develop their practice. In January 2024, Netwerk will celebrate the reopening of its renovated house with a new programme. Bakkers and Herman look forward to engaging with the team and the renewed building, Aalst and its residents, the local and international community, and with each other.

“The organisation will be guided by the context of the city of Aalst and the Dender region, a rich and complex area where different traditions and communities interweave. Our aim is to transcend the simplistic opposition between the centre and the periphery by delving into topics that carry both local significance and international resonance. In collaboration with artists, partners, and citizens, we aspire to develop an elaborate and generous programme that allows practices to unfold freely. We want to support the development of work that might not always fit within a conventional visibility regime. Above all, we look forward to working with our new colleagues to ensure a lively, polyphonic meeting place where diverse perspectives can come together and be heard. In doing so, we keep in mind Zadie Smith’s ‘Dream City’, an imaginary city where the group speaks instead of the individual, and where the inhabitants express the fundamental realisation of reality as something infinitely complex and versatile.”

Godart Bakkers (1988, Breda) is a curator, film programmer, researcher, and organiser who focuses on the intersections between art and film. He teaches artist texts at KASK & Conservatorium/School of Arts in Ghent, organises the KASKlectures and coordinates a four-year research project on the history of the art scene in Ghent between 1957 and 1987. Since 2018, he is a co-founder of Monokino, a collective that showcases films, performances, and art about the sea on the sea in Ostend. Bakkers has a strong background in both the art world and the film world. As a film programmer, he has worked for various organisations, including the European Media Art Festival in Osnabrück. Since 2018, he has been coordinating projects for art in public spaces in Geraardsbergen. 

Laura Herman (1988, Brussels) currently serves as the programme director of the postgraduate course in Curatorial Studies, a collaborative effort between KASK & Conservatorium, S.M.A.K., and Ghent University. Prior to this, she worked as a curator at La Loge in Brussels and taught theory at Design Academy Eindhoven. From 2018 to 2020, she curated “The New Sanctuary” (Jeu de Paume, Paris, CAPC Bordeaux and Amparo Museo, Mexico, 2020), and over the past decade, she has curated numerous exhibitions both in Belgium and abroad. From 2017 to 2020, she worked as an editor at De Witte Raaf, and her reviews and essays have been featured in publications such as Mousse, Frieze, and Metropolis M. In late 2022, she was awarded the Prize for Young Art Criticism for her writing on Camille Henrot. Herman is a board member of Auguste Orts, AICA Belgium, and Outline. She holds an MA in Curatorial Studies from CCS Bard College New York (2016).