Tom Bogaert (BE): Objection

Having artists and researchers from all over the globe collaborating with and taking residencies at the Ars Electronica Futurelab is of great importance to the laboratory and atelier for future systems. New forms of artistic expression serve the Futurelab as food for social thought, as an impetus to consider emerging issues, and as an opportunity to take a more multifaceted look at things.

The resident of 2023 was Tom Bogaert, who came to art after a career as a refugee worker with the United Nations and Amnesty International. His artistic practice is structured around in situ projects that examine the intersections of politics, entertainment, technology, art, and propaganda.

Bogaert is a conscientious objector who is fascinated by the ease with which the logic of war has infiltrated our daily lives. His residency project at Ars Electronica Futurelab aims to explore our relationship with the order of things that we have been taught and sold through the lens of multilateral propaganda in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The artist seeks to bend technology and engages with weaponry within a discourse of refusal, viewing it both as an act of protest and a generative process of renewal. During his time at the Ars Electronica Futurelab, he hacked weapons, strategies, industries, and geopolitics – and called it art.

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Field research included a visit to the arms fair IDEX in Abu Dhabi where he was struck by the normality of the event. Drawing inspiration from the Stockholm Peace Institute’s Top 100 arms producing companies list, he invested a portion of his grant money in acquiring shares in these companies. By leveraging the resulting profits, Bogaert aimed to further materialize his hacking plans.

At the Ars Electronica Festival, the artist unveiled the interface of his online brokerage account to the audience. Alongside it, he showcased prototypes and AI generated imagery of hacked weaponry, including tear gas canisters with blueberry flavored smoke, bullets with built-in painkillers, firework bombs that seem to make buildings bleed, snow cannons instead of water cannons, and more.

Tom Bogaert

Tom Bogaert came to art after a career as a refugee worker with the United Nations and Amnesty International in Europe, Central Africa, and South-East Asia. At the age of 38, Bogaert gave up his legal career to settle in New York as an artist. He has widely exhibited in Europe, the US, the Middle East, and North Africa—mainly and proudly in artist-run and nonprofit venues.

Bogaert is one half of the Haitian Belgian art generating business Lafleur & Bogaert. They are best known for their critically acclaimed projects for documenta fifteen as part of Atis Rezistans / Ghetto Biennale, for which they received “the Best Exhibition of the Year 2022 Award” by the International Association of Art Critics in Germany.

Tom Bogaert was the 2023 Artist in Residence at the Ars Electronica Futurelab in Linz, Austria. Born in Bruges, Belgium in 1966 and based in Rome, Italy, Bogaert works in situ.


Artist: Tom Bogaert

This project is funded by the Flemish Ministry of Culture, Youth and Media.

This project was part of the Open Futurelab at the Ars Electronica Festival 2023.