Heart on the Tongue

Eva la Cour and Mia Edelgart

9 August26 October 2024

Exhibition, Onsite

Opening 9 August, 17:00–19:00

Jef Cornelis’ paper archive at Argos – center for audiovisual arts, 2023 by Eva la Cour and Mia Edelgart

In the exhibition Heart on the Tongue, visual artists Mia Edelgart and Eva la Cour turn their gaze towards the public broadcasting of the 1970s and ’80s through a study of the work of Belgian film and TV producer Jef Cornelis (1941-2018). These broadcasts stem from an era and media landscape radically different from today, where debates branch out into countless smaller forums on digital platforms, drawing polarised lines and hindering collective discourse. Their revisitation of this pioneer of television culture seeks to both introduce his unique practice to a Danish audience and draw insights from his methodologies.

Edelgart and la Cour’s exhibition centres around Jef Cornelis, whose films and TV programmes produced for national Belgian television challenged ideas of what the medium can and ought to be, in both form and content. During his time, TV was a public broadcasting medium which served to create a common frame of reference and unify the population – unlike today, where the individual can choose from a plethora of on-demand streaming services.

Cornelis used the television medium as a platform for his evocative, sociocultural investigations. This is evident, for instance, in his architecture programmes featuring essayistic meditations on the development of urbanism and urban spaces in the 20th century, as well as the impact on inhabitants’ lives. Another one of Cornelis’ recurring themes is the art world, and in his portraits of artists and art events he portrays a comprehensive cultural-political apparatus of capital and power.

The title of the exhibition is a direct translation of the Flemish expression ‘hart up de tung’, which the two artists came across during their research. A former colleague of Cornelis used this expression to describe the approach and tone of Cornelis’ talk show programmes. The title captures the passion and directness of his productions, and in Flemish, the phrase can also be phonetically confused with ‘hard op de tong’, meaning ‘hard on the tongue’.

Edelgart and la Cour feel particular kinship with Jef Cornelis’ methodological approach and for the exhibition, they have created a series of new works in conversation with Cornelis’ archive. Through interviews and staged conversations, Edelgart and la Cour highlight the collaborative nature of Cornelis’ work and explore the relationship between communication and presentation, as well as process and production. Cornelis left behind a modest paper archive that sheds light on his working methods, but his television programmes have themselves become a unique archive of cultural and art historical documentation, and his productions have since been featured at various festivals and art biennials.

The exhibition presents two new film works and an installation by the artists alongside four TV productions by Jef Cornelis. In one of the films, Edelgart and la Cour visit Jef Cornelis’ archive in Brussels. The film is not a traditional documentary about a significant cultural figure, instead reflecting on how to access the past, and who takes care of and controls access to a legacy. In another work, they explore some of Cornelis’ television techniques, testing their effectiveness in contemporary discussions on the climate crisis.

Visual artists Mia Edelgart and Eva la Cour have put together a film programme featuring a selection of Jef Cornelis’ productions. It will be shown during the exhibition period in collaboration with Cinemateket, Terrassen, Copenhagen Architecture Festival and Art Hub Copenhagen.

The exhibition has been created in collaboration with the research centres Center for Practice-based Art Studies (PASS) and Art as Forum at the University of Copenhagen, with which the artists are associated. The production of new works is supported by the two centres and the Danish Arts Foundation.

The exhibition is supported by ARGOS, the Augustinus Foundation and the Ny Carlsberg Foundation.

Biography

Jef Cornelis (1941-2018) studied set design and film direction at the Netherlands Film Academy. After completing his education, he settled in Antwerp, Belgium and was hired as a director at the art department of BRT Television in Belgium (later VRT). He worked here from 1963 to 1998 as a producer, director and screenwriter, and over these 35 years, he created over 200 TV programmes – reportage, portraits, talk shows and documentaries, many of which were live broadcasts.

Mia Edelgart and Eva la Cour are visual artists and friends. They have collaborated on projects such as self-organised educational programmes in Siggalycke – a decommissioned school in Småland, Sweden – as well as teaching and workshop activities at institutions including Art Hub Copenhagen and the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. For many years, la Cour and Edelgart have been occupied by methodologically oriented questions in relation to collaborative, experimental and precarious film practices.

Mia Edelgart is a graduate of the Danish Royal Academy of Fine Arts and currently works as an artistic researcher at PASS, Centre for Practice-based Art Studies at the University of Copenhagen. 

Eva la Cour is a graduate of the Jutland Art Academy and holds a degree in Media & Visual Anthropology from Freie Universität, Berlin, as well as a PhD from HDK-Valand in Gothenburg. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow affiliated with the research centre Art as Forum at the Department of Arts and Cultural Studies at the University of Copenhagen.

Archive