On this, the final day in belgium, I bit the bullet, and decided to brave the art fair (which i’d serendipitously gotten passes to while at a museum in Ghent). And, you know, it really wasn’t so bad. There’s few folks I know who’ll readily admit liking art fairs, vernissage or after. Rather, it’s just something you ought to do, like eating your brusselsprouts and liver. Well, the way the fair entrance is situated, one must first explore the halls of the newer galleries before getting to the older more established set. So, if you’re pinched for time, as I was, those works enticing further contemplation, photographing, and bio-reading are first-seen, and those artists and galleries with which you’re already familiar can be sprinted by at the end. ok, i didn’t sprint, but only made cursory “oo’s” and “aah’s.”
here’s a short list of noted artists and galleries & links to more information about each :
Ádam Kokesch . Martin Asbaek Gallery . Suzanne Tarasieve . Art & Language . Wentrup Gallery . Phillip Pareno . Martin Mertins . Dorothea Golz . Julien Prévieux . Joris Van De Moortel . Hans Langer . Catherina van Eetvelde . Marc Paulin . Peter de Meyer . Stijn Cole . Ian Burns . Galerie Volker Diehl (Audience by rAndom International) .
and here’s a smattering of imagery :
30-34 Quai des Charbonnages houses an exceptional enclave of innovative gallery/residency/laboratory spaces. I’d gone looking for iMal, which was unfortunately closed that day. iMal space’s purpose is to offer time and facilities for experimentation in the field of new-media arts. The exhibition space (from their online photos) looks to be pretty stellar too. Just around the corner, in what’s really an enormous industrial courtyard, is a community of laboratory spaces. It’s beyond utopia. I stopped by FoAM, where I was invited in to see the residency space, pictured below. It’s a two level loft, with ample room for meetings, performances, installations, and living for several artists. and then there’s the gourmet kitchen. Apparently, Foam acquired the space from a previous program who’d done a lot of major revamping. I highly recommend checking out both websites. ..and also these guys : OKNO … & RYBN
As you can see in the photo, it’s something between grain-loft and industrial facility.
When I was leaving, the woman from iMal stopped by to talk to Lena, the directrice, and I got to snap this photo of the two of them.
Friday night openings & goings on … a very brief account::
Rineke Dijkstra @ Jan Mot exhibiting two new video works : Weeping Woman and Ruth Drawing Picasso. In the former three channel video work, we are confronted by a dozen school children (in uniform, between ages 7-12 I’d guess) describing Picasso’s Weeping Woman…why she appears the way she does, why the artist rendered her so, and so on. It’s hilarious and poignant, and you leave in awe of how much is inferred by those with relatively limited life experience…rather, the potential causes of sadness the children imagine reveals their innate wisdom.
le musée du point de vue, by jean daniel berclaz
Filles du calvaire (exhibiting : Dominique Blais, Mira Sanders, Lisa Tan)
Alice Day exhibiting “Bambaataa,” curated by Der Kommissare François Curlet & including works by Robert Watts, Haim Steinbach, Liza May Post, Dewar & Gicquel, Fédéric Platéus, and Natalia Brilli. this was easily the pick of the night (notwithstanding the full buffet, open bar, and 5M radial crowd spilling onto the sidewalk).
Day 2 began with a visit to the Centrale Électrique (the european centre for contemporary art). On display was the 8th Edition of Bamako Encounters, a group exhibition of photo and video work by a selection of contemporary African artists (or those of recent African decent). Because I recently had the pleasure of meeting Blaire Dessent,through our mutual friend Hank Thomas, I was especially excited to see the work of her husband Mounir Fatmi, which was included in this show; till then, I’d only seen it online. Beyond offering you a comprehensive list of everyone included in the exhibition, and allowing you to become acquainted with the artists’ works individually, I’m at a loss for how to fully explain the impact this exhibit had on me. To simply quip that it was a “strong exhibit,” is both glib and falls far short of the mark. I will say this however: I found the absence of the overly poetic and critical yet didactic curator’s statement (which seems to be a requisite in Paris, particularly at the Palais de Tokyo) a relief. The visitor is truly left to their own devices. There’s room for the confrontation between viewer and work to be both private and individually motivated. *i should note that I do enjoy the Palais de Tokyo (exhibits, vernissages, etc), but continue to find their overly verbose testimonies troubling as they often supersede the experience of the actual artwork. As promised, here’s the list of artists (enjoy!):
Abdoulaye Barry . Jodi Bieber . Patrizia Guerresi Maïmouna . Pieter Hugo . Oumar Ly . Baudouin Mouoanda . Zanele Muholi . Uche Okpa Iroha . Karel Prinsloo . Malick Sidibé . Salif Traoré . Alain Turpault . . . Ismaïl Bahri . Berry Bickle . Mounir Fatmi . Bouchra Khalili . Nandipha Mntambo . Riason Naidoo . Dinkies Sithole . Guy Wouete .
apologies in advance for the things magazine style (aka shopping list of interesting things–though i do love their site, of course) to follow here. i’ll admit straight up that :
1. it is possible to see entirely too much art in one day
2. i saw too much art in one day
3. this is a retroactively posted addition to obsolescent forecasts.
Bruxelles Day 1 began with a visit to the Art et Marges Museum (formerly called the Art en Marges). The venue name change is actually worth mentioning, as it signals a shift in the rhetoric surrounding the Art Brut/Outsider/Self-taught field. ie: the former name refers to “marginal art,” where the new name suggests that they’ve not drawn a distinction between the “margins,” and the “art.” from their site:
<<Le “Art & marges musée” veut donc être un lieux de dialogue artistique sans frontière ni barrière. Les expositions temporaires sont destinées à encourager le dialogue entre les artistes “en marge”, ceux de “l’ombre” et les artistes professionnels.>>
The “Art & marges museum” would thus be the grounds for artistic dialogue without frontier or barrier. The temporary expositions are destined to encourage the dialogue between the artists “on the margin,” those of the “shadows,” and professional artists.
Baudouin Oosterlynck’s studies of music and innovations in music technology are co-exhibited with the drawings and scores of Swiss artist Adolf Wölfli. As a fan/atic of all things Wölfli, I should add here that I’m always completely floored when I see his work in person; every time as astounding as the first. And every time, I recognize the impossibility of paying adequate homage to them–there’s just not time to see everything encompassed in a single Wölfli drawing; and then there are thousands of them. The museum and the exhibition were a treat to visit, suffice to say. I’d unfortunately missed the performance series accompanying the works, but the video documentaries on view were compelling.
From there, I happened upon a marché aux puces, which I miraculously managed to tear myself away from (this is rare), moving on instead to the WIELS Contemporary Art Museum. The original intention in visiting this museum was to see the art book fair & the accompanying round table discussion. Both of these turned out to be quite small-not underwhelming-but modest in scale. The museum itself, should you have the chance to go, is excellently constructed. The building was until recently an abandoned site–from old photos on view, it appears to have been an industrial building of sorts. Upon ascending the wide stairs at the front entrance, the space opens up onto an immense cafe area…casually situated tables in the center, with plenty of room for lounging around. And the café is cheap. This to me seemed like an oxymoron: “cheap museum café.” Just past the café, and up a small flight of stairs, just before the museum’s official entrance, there was installed the book fair. From what I gathered, the publishers represented there are mostly young, modest budget affairs–but the selections offered were both innovated and fantastically produced. And, I found the new out-puts of two new friends on display: Espen Dietrichson & Thomas Galler. kudos, guys!
So, beyond the entrance: yes, there was a conference. and yes, I was admittedly underwhelmed. In part this is due to the fact that I ran into the guys as they were leaving the men’s room (I was checking out the magazine rack) worrying to each other: “have you prepared anything?” “No, I don’t think any of us has. We’ll just keep it casual-like a conversation.” Unfortunately this meant that the moderator had no agenda, and the free-form discussion on artist books (history, and future) never really took form. I ducked out early to see the Felix Gonzalez Torres show, which you can see online on the Wiels site.