Paul Hendrikse The Room of Emile Verhaeren Paul Hendrikse The Room of Emile Verhaeren2 Paul Hendrikse The Room of Emile Verhaeren3 Paul Hendrikse The Room of Emile Verhaeren4 Paul Hendrikse The Room of Emile Verhaeren5

The Room of Emile Verhaeren

What is a room for working in? Virginia Woolf stated in her famous essay A Room of One’s Own that every woman who wants to write fiction needs money and her own space in which to do so. She wrote the essay in 1929, just thirteen years after the death of Emile Verhaeren. Verhaeren (1855–1916) was the author of plays and poems, and a leading figure in the artistic scene that grew up in Belgium around 1900.

The group organized itself, exhibited together at its own, alternative art salons, and gave itself the name ‘Les XX’. Verhaeren wrote numerous articles on individual artists and the developing scene for the magazines La Jeune Belgique and L’Art Moderne, and so was responsible for creating a discourse and articulating the ideas emerging within a changing society and community. His flamboyant reviews nourished, developed and shaped the artistic scene in Belgium. His unique texts did not go unnoticed abroad either: in 1911 he was nominated for the Nobel Prize.

Verhaeren worked in his study in Saint-Cloud, near Paris, until just before the First World War, when he moved to England. The room was later reconstructed at the Bibliothèque Royale in Brussels on the initiative of the writer’s widow, Marthe Massin. In addition to original documents, it contains many works by artists whom Verhaeren knew and admired.

I filmed the study as it is now – a reconstruction in the library, not open to the public – highlighting the room again in different ways. I also wrote a text in which, taking Verhaeren’s study as his starting point, I reflect on what a place to work means today.

Camera: Paul Hendrikse, Editing: Paul Hendrikse, Light: Jojanne Hopmans, Voice: Paul McDevitt, Audio recording: Rudi Fischerlehner, an art commission for ING Belgium Art Management for the exhibition To the Point, The Neo- Impressionist Portrait, ING Cultural Centre, Brussels.

16:9, 4:42 min., sound