The Jan Van Veen Archive

The Jan Van Veen archive is an example of an emergency rescue, an action taken to prevent valuable archive materials from being irretrievably lost due to unforeseen circumstances.

Jan Van Veen had a well-organised archive until fate dealt him a heavy blow – an abrupt and substantial deterioration of his memory.

Fortunately, before he was taken into care, he was able to provide a few stacks of material with letters indicating where they should go; however, it was clear that these were neither thorough nor complete. Thanks to an incredibly empathetic lawyer, the CKV, the Letterenhuis and Amsab-ISG gained access to Jan Van Veen’s apartment, which also housed the archive of Dolle Mol founder and poet, Herman J Claeys, and contained a huge amount of material that still required processing.

Jan Van Veen worked as an assistant for Guillaume Bijl and also worked for several years with Panamarenko as an employee of the Galerie Ronny Van de Velde. He stored a host of documentation and photographic material during this period. Moreover, information on his various trips and work processes were preserved, just like his former colleague, Xavier de Clippeleir, whose archive contains lovely technical drawings and adaptations. In addition to this, the oeuvre of Jan Van Veen himself is present, who performed with the French Corinne Taunay in a duo in the 1980s and 1990s under the name ‘JFK Canard’, producing several ‘car sculptures’.

Jan Van Veen’s case is a challenging sample project in terms of mix and legal procedures. Different players are involved, including family and friends, the legal guardian, the medical opinion determining whether the artist has the ability to decide for himself, Het Letterenhuis on behalf of literary activities and the HJ Claeys Archive, with which Amsab-ISG was also involved due to the sizeable remnants of the Dolle Mol and the Free Press Bookshop, both of which were major rendezvous points of the leftist movement.