In memoriam: Kobe Matthys

It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing away of Kobe Matthys (1970–2023). As we put away the curtain that was covering our archives for almost 10 years, and re-organize them in preparation for the opening of Nina bell F. House Museum at our office gallery, both visually and organizationally, we are reminded of the extensive shelves of “things” collected by Agency (b. 1992), the organization initiated and taken care of by Kobe Matthys. Things–of all sorts and from all around the world–are objects that underwent juridical processes of disputes, evidentiary and divisive arguments, and settlements in regard to intellectual property such as copyrights. On occasion, and in collaboration with (art) organizations, Agency (which Kobe implicated himself by calling it “we/us”) would summon selections of things to assembly and let the participants re-visit the legal cases around them. What the assembly leads to is then not a (new) judgment of things but a “moment of hesitation” held together. This moment enchanted the objects into things, things into togetherness. We, at Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons, had several opportunities of working with Agency (2002, 2004, 2010, 2012) and thereafter remained in conversation. No doubt, Agency taught us in many ways, from how a thing before, after or beyond an “artwork” of originality and authorship can live in and for the commons, to how we can organize an assembly that is instrumental yet not reduced to a conclusion. We also remember Kobe regularly contributed to a community farming project in Brussels and was one of the driving forces behind State of the Arts, an action group that stood up against culture cuts in 2019 in Belgium. In 2021, Agency received the Flanders’s Ultima Awards for Visual Arts.

Thank you very much, Kobe. We will continue to embed Agency in our practice. You will be missed.

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