Raymaekers and the press, then and now
For the past two years, as a team of scholars, authors, photographers connected to Rotor and UGent, we have been conducting research on Raymaekers, one of the most flamboyant protagonists of the reuse-of-building-materials-scene in post-war Belgium. The research reveals the complex afterlife of valuable architectural fragments in a context of intense building and demolition activity. Our ambition was to shed new light on the forgotten figure of Raymaekers and the scene that surrounded him but also to honor the many contractors, craftsmen, private commissioners, architects, friends, professionals and amateurs who helped extend the life cycle of these elements, creating some remarkable architecture out of them.
Our team interviewed not only Raymaekers many times over (we also read more than 100 old interviews) but also a great number of his former clients, collaborators, and family members. This provided a nuanced insight into Raymaekers’ personality and ethics. It also confirmed he is not a man we endorse morally, nor do we propose retrieving everything about his practice. We discuss this explicitly in a detailed disclaimer at the beginning of our book Ad Hoc Baroque. Please take this in consideration when you read this lengthy interview of the man in de Standaard Magazine, in which Raymaekers, now 90, revels in the revived attention for his work and person with a series of provoking but also, unfortunately, demeaning quotes. In the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s many media outlets loved this kind of talk and lapped it up. It seems these kinds of provocations retain their spell up to the present day.