The Voeten Collection represents a unique combination of both Belgian and international works. Currently it comprises over 1700 art pieces that have been collected during a period of more than 40 years. They are exhibited in two separate locations – at the Art Center close to Herentals and at the sculpture park near Gheel.

Stanislav Pamukchiev

Tzedila - The Slings, 1999-2000, installation; rope, cheesecloth, ash, various dimensions

Each museum collection has certain works that are its keystones – without them the identity of the place would not be the same. The installation The Slings (1999-2000) by the Bulgarian artist Stanislav Pamukchiev is such a work – it has become like a trademark of the Art Center Hugo Voeten. Upon entering the museum the viewer is captivated by the spectacular architecture of the building. Like a huge industrial chimney the central entrance space is dissecting the entire height of the five museum floors while providing passage for the day light flooding down from the glass roof. It is here where the seventeen elements of the site-specific installation The Slings appear to be "taking off" up into the sky.

The Slings is an emblematic work of Stanislav Pamukchiev. It was first exhibited in his one-person show at the Rayko Alexiev Gallery in Sofia in 2000. The work consisted of 27 elements in that space. Those are objects floating into the air – rectangular pieces of thin fabric, suspended in the air by ropes attached to each corner. The fabric is carefully treated and formed with a mixture of pigment and ash. It is airy and transparent while at the same time the shapes are frozen in space like sculpture. The traditional Balkan way of life uses such pieces of fabric when raising infants. They are called tzedilki (baby slings). Traditionally these were female woven aprons used as cradles. While working in the fields women would be carrying the baby in a tzedilka on her back which is tied up at the shoulders. At lunch time or when resting they were used as cradles suspended from the branch of a tree under the shade. For the artist the image of this ancient tradition is an expression of his attitude towards the clan memory as well as towards the forgotten codes from the past of his own family. For him the "children's cradles" in this installation are part of the humankind's procession through time.

The Slings has another meaning which comes from the specific site where the work is installed – the Art Center Hugo Voeten. The artist is using the meaning of the Bulgarian word "tzedilo", which denotes "straining" and "filtering". Here the floating tzedilki are literally filtering the light that comes in through the glass roof of the building; they are casting shadows and reflections on the surrounding surfaces.

The works of Stanislav Pamukchiev have a unique presence in the Art Center Hugo Voeten. The collection is home to some of the artist's most important pieces from the middle of the 1980s which are tracing his evolution from oil painting and the easel format to the three-dimensional object and the kinetic installation. In all these works the artist remains true to his specific plastic way of building up the surface of the work in a monochromatic color scheme. The use of ash as a pictorial material symbolic of time and mortality is also very important for him.

Text: Vessela Nozharova, January 2016