This year, at Affordable Art Fair Brussels (11 - 13 September, Tour & Taxis) we’re excited to announce that we will be working with new creative collective, Toka, who will be creating an impressive installation, designed especially to welcome you to the fair. The Brussels-based collective, who keep their identities hidden, have a passion for art and antiques and are inspired by their Judeo-Christian backgrounds.
Within their practice they create works which explore and make commentary on religion and modern day ideologies, through philosophical artistic expressions which are designed to prompt consideration of your personal beliefs.
Read on to find out more about them and their plans for the fair:
Meet Belgian collective Toka
We’re excited to be working with you this year. For those that aren’t aware of Toka, could you tell us a bit about the collective?
Toka is a newly created Belgian collective. The project began when we discovered an antique painting of a Christian Saint that was covered with fluorescent paint. It was a total revelation to us! And then by chance, on the very same day, we found hundreds of old crucifixes of all ages, shapes and materials, stored in a back room of an antique shop and on their way to the rubbish bin.
Being from Judaeo-Christian backgrounds, these religious symbols, on the verge of being thrown away, inspired many metaphysical questions. So, it made sense for us to use the antique objects and symbols within a creative context and reinterpret them with a contemporary touch.
The vision for the collective is to put our cultural and religious roots into perspective by posing artistic and spiritual questions related to the pop art market, such as: “What do we believe in in our modern society?”
Can you explain where the name Toka comes from?
Toka is reversed-slang for “catho” coming from “Catholique”.
Why do you choose to keep your identities hidden?
The make-up of our collective will be variable and will evolve depending on future projects and technical needs for achieving our ideas and artistic pieces. Additionally, just as in religion, icons and identities of protagonists are represented differently depending on interpretations, symbols or sacred texts. So, it’s important that the members of the collective remain as mystic and metaphysical as religion itself is.
What are you hoping to achieve with your collective?
Our aim is to address challenging and provoking nuances related to religion, transforming the meaning behind antique texts and iconic crucifixes, without altering them. Our artistic approach is philosophical, spiritual and conceptual, not political. We don’t want to fall into gothic, irreverent or disrespectful representations of religion. It's about questioning our past and creating links with modern ideologies that underlie modern culture, like capitalism or environmentalism, which operate with the same codes as religion with spiritual masters, Saints and a “faith book”.
Can you tell us about the work you’ll be presenting at Affordable Art Fair Brussels 2020? Will it be the first time Toka presents something to a public?
The crucifix and the body of Christ, universal symbols of religious culture, will be central to our work at Affordable Art Fair Brussels. It will be our main source of inspiration and therefore ideal for the first creative presentation by Toka to the public.
What are your plans for Toka after Affordable Art Fair Brussels?
Our future work will be presented in multiple verses. Through each verse we want to decode the traits of modern religions and ideologies such as capitalism, environmentalism, scientism, while keeping Christianity and antique objects as our main source of inspiration.
We are incredibly intrigued by this interview and can’t wait to see more at the upcoming Brussels fair. Toka’s installation will greet visitors as they enter the fair, plus a stand featuring their work will be within the fair itself. Do purchase a ticket in advance, and join us at Affordable Art Fair Brussels 2020 (11 - 13 September, Tour & Taxis) for this exciting installation and 1000s more affordable artworks under one roof.
Belgian collective Toka at work in their studio space.
Artwork created by Belgian collective Toka and images of their studio space. All images courtesy of Toka.