Surprised by
the View

Rudi J.L Bogaerts collects postcards and
found objects into playful dioramas


By Kate Mothes

The word “anecdote” appeared in French in the 17th century, derived from the ancient Greek anekdota, which roughly means “thing unpublished” or “revelation of secrets.” Anekdota was also the title used for Procopius of Caesarea for his 6th-century biography of Emperor Justinian, which collected the ruler’s previously unpublished memoirs, chronicling a series of brief incidents in the Byzantine court. By the 18th century, the use of “anecdote” in English had decayed to its current association with a “brief, amusing story.”

In Rudi J.L Bogaerts‘ playful series Anekdota, he explores the nature of nostalgia, memories, and telling stories in playful dioramas that center on the postcard as a means of storytelling. He orients found objects like rocks, screens, utensils, toys, and abstract shapes onto small shelves made from dismantled orange crates. He starts with a story in mind, then creates “a web of references that stimulates the imagination of the viewer and evokes new stories in turn.” The titles hint at the original story, but he prefers only to give hints so that the viewer is allowed to interpret and imagine based on their own memories and associations.

“I often play with the aspect of scale to create pieces that are carefully constructed with both the imagination of a child and the precision of a model train hobbyist,” Bogaerts says, who has been making assemblages since 2015 that often reference migration and borders. He was particularly moved by the devastating reality of African and Middle Eastern migrants seeking entry to Europe via the Sicilian island of Lampedusa. In 2013, a ship carrying hundreds of migrants sank, resulting in the devastating deaths of more than 360 people, and between January and April 2015 alone, more than 1,600 migrants fell victim to the deadliest migrant route in the world.

For Bogaerts, the idea of a touristic postcard took on new meaning: intended to be collected or sent as tokens to remember happy holidays by, he saw the potential to add layers of meaning or irony, drawing attention to dark undercurrents and adding “an extra interpretation to small stories or events from my childhood and recent events.”

Find more of Bogaerts’ work on his website and Instagram.

A memory of the shelter, 2017. Mixed media, 13.3 ✕ 29.4 ✕ 7 centimeters
The ugly truth, 2018. Mixed media, 25 ✕ 47.5 ✕ 11.4 centimeters
Surprised by the view, 2018. Mixed media, 17.5 ✕ 29.5 ✕ 9 centimeters
The demystifying and deconstructing conference, 2018. Mixed media, 16.8 ✕ 44 ✕ 11.5 centimeters
“Each work becomes like a diorama, a web of references that stimulates the imagination of the viewer and evokes new stories in turn.”
A cellar full of gaslighting, 2019. Mixed media, 18 ✕ 44 ✕ 11.4 centimeters
Moving up, 2019. Mixed media, 52.5 ✕ 83 ✕ 11.4 centimeters
The wrong choice, 2018. Mixed media, 12.5 ✕ 44 ✕ 11.4 centimeters
Crossing the border, 2017. Mixed media, 13 ✕ 29.4 ✕ 6.8 centimeters

All images © Rudi J.L. Bogaerts

Header: Me Too on the Grass, 2018. Mixed media, 23.3 x 44 x 11.5 centimeters

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