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campaign image Chantal Akerman - Passages, still from Hotel Monterey
campaign image Chantal Akerman - Passages, still from Hotel Monterey

Exhibtion, films, talks & events

Chantal Akerman


1 June — 30 August 2020

exhibition interior Chantal Akerman - Passages (© Studio Hans Wilschut)
© Studio Hans Wilschut

In 1995 she created a large spatial installation on 24 monitors based on D’Est, a film she originally made as a documentary. This marked the start of her ’second career’ within the world of visual art. The exhibition features eight of Akerman’s film installations. In addition to D’Est, they include a.o. Woman Sitting after a Killing (2001), Tombée de nuit sur Shanghai (2007-2008) and her final work NOW (2015).

This summer, Eye Filmmuseum is presenting a major solo exhibition of work by Chantal Akerman. Akerman was one of the first film directors who made the switch to visual art. She rose to fame in the 1970s as a feminist avant-garde filmmaker, and midway through the 1990s, she discovered the possibilities of the art gallery.

exhibition interior Chantal Akerman - Passages (© Studio Hans Wilschut)
Chantal Akerman, NOW; © Studio Hans Wilschut
exhibition interior Chantal Akerman - Passages (© Studio Hans Wilschut)
Chantal Akerman, Hotel Monterey; © Studio Hans Wilschut

As a 25-year-old dropout from film academy, Chantal Akerman acquired instant fame in 1975 with Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles. This understated, minimalist portrait of the mundane chores of a Brussels housewife and part-time prostitute was lauded as the standard-bearer of feminist avant-garde cinema. In a stripped-down and anti-dramatic style – later referred to as ‘slow cinema’ – Akerman exposed the oppressive routine of a homemaker’s existence and gave a face to the secret life of countless women.

Akerman’s work is characterized by a detached approach to what looks like ‘ordinary life’, but where a profusion of violent events, memories and emotions lurk beneath the surface. Akerman, herself the child of an Auschwitz survivor, is “charging the mundane with significance”.

exhibition interior Chantal Akerman - Passages (© Studio Hans Wilschut)
Chantal Akerman, Marcher a coté; © Studio Hans Wilschut

“...what the exhibition especially invites you to do, is to look... In Chantal Akerman - Passages, the installations enter into a beautiful dialogue with each other...”

De Volkskrant, *****

A world outside movie theatres

Around 1995 – by then Akerman was the celebrated director of classic films such as News from Home (1977), Toute une nuit (1982) and Nuit et jour (1991) – the filmmaker discovered a world outside movie theatres. Her first video installation was D’Est in 1995, in which she presented hypnotic images on 24 monitors to show how people try to survive behind the Iron Curtain in the countries of the former Eastern Bloc. Her observational images of people and landscapes lack any dialogue or narrative. This installation marked the start of a ‘second career’ within the world of visual art.

Avant-garde approach

Much of Chantal Akerman’s pioneering work testifies to her avant-garde approach to the medium she employs. Features of her distinctive personal style are long shots, frontal camera positioning and wide frames, enabling her to put forward a new interpretation of time and space. Akerman’s works embody history, memories, lives that seem normal but are not. They display an “almost tactile sense of what it is like to observe from a respectful distance, the people and places they record”.

International art world

The international art world quickly recognized the remarkable quality of Akerman’s visual work. A series of exhibitions in renowned museums followed, including Walker Art Center (1995), Jeu de Paume, Paris (1995), Documenta XI, Kassel (2002) and M HKA, Antwerp (2012). Akerman also took part in the Venice Biennale in 2001 and 2015.

“...does justice to her revolutionary oeuvre... So simple, so direct, so powerful...”

De Filmkrant


The exhibition is accompanied by a richly illustrated publication with texts by Chantal Akerman herself, supplemented with essays by Cyril Béghin, Dana Linssen and Roos van der Lint. You can order it via the Eye shop.

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publication Chantal Akerman - Passages
publication Chantal Akerman - Passages

“...In Eye, it's proven that the work of Chantal Akerman lends itself well to a transition from cinema to exhibition space...”

NRC Handelsblad, ****

Take a virtual tour through the exhibition:

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exhibition interior Chantal Akerman - Passages (© Studio Hans Wilschut)
Chantal Akerman, In the Mirror; © Studio Hans Wilschut
portrait of Chantal Akerman (© Kenneth Saunders)
© Kenneth Saunders

Film programme Focus Chantal Akerman

To accompany the exhibition Chantal Akerman - Passages, Eye presents a programme with films and guests in its cinemas. Akerman's most influential feature films and documentaries will be screened, films whose images and sequences recur in the installations of the exhibition, as well as a documentary about the filmmaker.

Guests will examine different aspects of Akerman's work during special thematic evenings. The below video interview was a preview of Spatializing Cinema, where Claire Atherton, editor and artistic collaborator of Chantal Akerman, talked about their years of collaboration.

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still from an interview with Claire Atherton on Chantal Akerman

During the special Be Pretty and Shut Up!, University of Amsterdam Professor of Film Studies Patricia Pisters focuses on the life and work of Delphine Seyrig (1932-1990), star of Akerman's Jeanne Dielman and a major feminist figure in the 1970s who directed a number of feminist films.

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still from a lecture by Patricia Pisters on Delphine Seyrig (and Chantal Akerman)
poster Chantal Akerman - Passages

Films, talks & more

The exhibition is accompanied by a programme of films, discussions and other activities.

campaign image Women Make Film

Akerman's cinematographic work will feature in Focus Chantal Akerman, a film programme that is part of the larger film programme Women Make Film, featuring the best films made by female directors.


Chantal Akerman - Passages is curated by Jaap Guldemond in collaboration with Marente Bloemheuvel.

Director of exhibitions / Curator

Jaap Guldemond

Associate curator

Marente Bloemheuvel

Project managers

Claartje Opdam in collaboration with Judith Öfner, Keely Vulkers

Graphic design

Joseph Plateau, Amsterdam

Technical production

Rembrandt Boswijk, Indyvideo, Utrecht; Christophe Leunis, Vertigo, Antwerp; Martijn Bor

Audiovisual equipment

Vidi-Square, Zandhoven


Syb Sybesma, Landstra & De Vries, Amsterdam


Maarten Warmerdam, Theatermachine, Amsterdam

The exhibition is organized in collaboration with the Chantal Akerman Foundation & Marian Goodman Gallery Paris, London, New York.

Film screenings are made possible with the help of Cinémathèque royale de Belgique.

This exhibition was made possible by:

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