We mourn the passing of Kobe Matthys (1970-2023), who died at the age of only 52.
As part of Ruth Buchanan's project A Garden with Bridges (Spine, Stomach, Throat, Ear) for the New Patrons of Mönchengladbach, Kobe Matthys was a guest advisor in Mönchengladbach in 2021 and 2022 to reflect on the development of a (community) garden with the commissioning groups. As a place that renews itself on many levels, this garden is a reflection of a city that is undergoing radical change due to the transformation of industrial processes, late capitalism and changing needs of its inhabitants. We reflected with Kobe Matthys on the process involved in creating a community garden. He generously shared his experience and immense knowledge. As an artist living in Brussels, he was a member of the Zenne Garden Collective and instrumental in developing a regenerative community garden project in a former industrial zone of Brussels.
In his artistic work, Kobe Matthys was known for the organization he founded, Agency (since 1992). His early reflections on the legal construct of all our things led him to create a variety of case studies that resisted the legal division between culture and nature, detailed our relationships to things, be they laws, objects, or practices, and invited a reconsideration of intellectual property. Through his nuanced way of working with the fullness of life, Ruth Buchanan had learned about his gardening. When they first talked to him about the garden workshops, he said that you didn't really need to have experience, all the knowledge was already there, it was just a matter of being committed and investing time.
Kobe studied at the Städelschule für Bildende Künste in Frankfurt with Thomas Bayrle from 1991-1995. Agency has been shown at CAC Vilnius (2019), Objectif-Exhibitions, Antwerp (2011), The Showroom, London (2011), Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis (2010), at the Goethe Institute, New York, in the exhibition Animism, Extra City, MUHKA, Antwerp, Kunsthalle, Bern, Generali Foundation, Vienna and Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (2009–12), Grand Domestic Revolution, Casco, Utrecht (2011–2012), Speech Matters, Venice Biennale, Venice (2011), white light, Düsseldorf (2007), Projekt Migration, Kölnischer Kunstverein (2005-06) and many more. Matthys was one of the driving forces of State of the Arts, which campaigned against the 2019 budget cuts in the field of culture in Belgium. In 2021, Agency received the Ultima Awards for visual arts in Flanders.
Our condolences go out to his family, partner and friends. He will be greatly missed.
Ruth Buchanan, Kathrin Jentjens, Susanne Titz and the New Patrons of Mönchengladbach