Hans Theys is a twentieth-century philosopher and art historian. He has written and designed dozens of books on the works of contemporary artists and published hundreds of essays, interviews and reviews in books, catalogues and magazines. All his publications are based on actual collaborations and conversations with artists.

This platform was developed by Evi Bert (Centrum Kunstarchieven Vlaanderen) in collaboration with the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp (Research group Archivolt), M HKA, Antwerp and Koen Van der Auwera. We also thank Idris Sevenans (HOR) and Marc Ruyters (Hart Magazine).


Zena Van den Block - 2019 - Een sprokkelend fotografe [EN, essay],
Text , 1 p.




Hans Theys



The Visual Gatherer

On Zena Van den Block’s work


The first works I saw of Zena Van den Block (°1995) were a seemingly authentic slideshow with holiday snaps of a virtual trip to Crete using ​Google Streetview, ​and photographs of Belgian landmarks published on Wikipedia containing, unfortunately, parts of the photographer’s body (as selfies gone wrong). The two works illustrate the broad spectrum in which Van den Block ​acts​ as a collector, collagist and visual artist. More recent, she has created lenticular prints of postcards ​representing​ tropical sunsets. ​Walking past them, we see the sun move​. ​Van den Block also made a jigsaw ​puzzle portrait of the Mona Lisa which ​gradually​ ​disappeared​ as ​visitors were invited to purchase their favourite puzzle piece; a selection of large light boxes illuminating pictures of forgotten movie stars, whose portraits were long preserved in someone’s wallet; and a composition of fake wooden laminate flowers based on numbered patterns found in colouring books.

Gathering visual materials of obscure importance and sentiment while playing with the boundaries of photography and sculpture, her two fields of education, we meet Van den Block as a sculptor of composed and collected images.

Another example of this attitude is the publication of three booklets ​containing street photographs supposedly commissioned by a contemporary artist named Prütscher (‘bungler’). ​Within these books, we find trivial snapshots of curious, poetic, awkward and funny situations observed in public: a car covered in a tarpaulin; a strange street sign; a poster notifying a missing cat. ​These are photographs that any beginning photographer seems to take, but nevertheless cannot publish due to their triviality. However, presented in a fictitious context inspired by ​the existence ​of an Austrian architect and designer ​named Otto Prutscher (1880-1949​), a shift of perspective takes place, similar to the unique way of framing of a photographer. Beautiful and liberating​.



Montagne de Miel, 1th of April 2020



Translated by Laura van Lokven