The highly individual and visionary work of James Ensor (1860-1949), familiar for its masquerades, carnival scenes and grotesque caricatures, is not easily categorized under any modern genre. Ensor had close ties with Ostend, where he was born and continued to live, and it was the source of inspiration for many of his works. In 2000, which was ‘Ensor Year’, the installation artist Guillaume Bijl made a short fictitious found-footage film entitled ‘James Ensor in Oostende ca. 1920’, which shows the painter at this resort with his friends. We see them having a drink, strolling in the arcades of the Thermae Palace and sitting on the beach. Bijl’s meticulous choice of locations, belle époque dress (including bathing costumes) and his cinematographically perfect imitation of the rather jerky black & white images, as well as the patina and the perfectly imitated scratches on the film emulsion, all resulted in a perfect replica: an apparently forgotten roll of film from the days of silent film. Bijl himself classifies this faultless slice of life, one of his rare excursions into film and video, under ‘cultural tourism’, one of the elements of his work in which he popularizes cultural history subjects and reduces them to clichés for the general public.

This work has been digitised in the frame of DCA Project