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Terenja van Dijk



Ghent veldstraat

Project on ephemera and the transformation of a shopping district

Commissioned by Ghent City of Culture [2005]

Concept and realization of exhibition

The University of Ghent’s collection of ephemera documents daily life in Ghent (1865-1913) on the basis of more than one million advertisements, letters, and other seemingly banal paper documents.

The collection makes it possible for us to form an image of the evolution of a nationally known shopping district concentrated around Veldstraat in Ghent. A book, a film, and the exhibition ‘Gent Veldstraat’ established a link between the ordinary world of the shopping district and the extraordinary aspect of the university’s collection. Hotel d’Haene-Steenhuyse and Veldstraat, April – May 2005.

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The exhibition was conceived as a route from the beginning of Veldstraat to the heart of the exhibition: the monumental D’hane Steenhuyse in the middle of the street. A 19th-century quotation about shopping on Veldstraat was displayed on banners stretched across the width of the street and accompanied today’s shopping public. Through transparent flyers affixed to the display windows of the shops, the visitor was literally able to look at the present through the past.

A selection of original pieces from the university’s collection – advertisements and shop catalogues from ca. 1905 – were displayed in a scale-model of the street in the hall of D’hane Steenhuyse. The model reconstructs the appearance of Veldstraat around 1905 on the basis of building permit requests submitted between 1785 and 1905. This was deliberately contrasted with the appearance of the façades lining the street today. In this way, the model registers key changes that have taken place on Veldstraat: the transformation of the merchandise on offer, and the ground floor itself – the display window.

Concept and project coordination
  • Ghent City of Culture
Scenography and exhibition production
  • Terenja van Dijk
Graphic design
  • Randoald Sabbe
Scale model / furnishings
  • Arthur De Roover in cooperation with David Van Severen
Façade photos
  • Wouter Rawoens
  • The Ephemerist. De zakbibliothecaris van de Veldstraat
Direction and scenario
  • Didier Volckaert
Codirection and production
  • An van Dienderen
Exhibition photos
  • Anja Hellebaut