The Importance of Being: A Panorama on Belgian Contemporary Art
Travelling exhibition: Cuba, Argentina and Brasil
'The Importance of Being...' is an exhibition on contemporary art taking place in several locations in Latin America throughout 2015 and 2016. The project is curated by Sara Alonso Gómez. Bruno Devos is the project director.
Rather than focusing on strictly geographical features or criteria, the exhibition raises questions concerning the polymorphy of the multilingual, transcultural mindset associated with a certain - elusive – Belgian identity.
This highly existential manner of looking at Belgium resulted in the development of the overarching theme of 'Being' itself. It also resulted in the inclusion of several non-Belgian artists, further exemplifying the plurality of discourses and international nature of the artistic proposals. "The Importance of Being ..." gathers 40 artists (born or not in Belgium) offering a vast panorama of contemporary art in the country, without intending to encompass thoroughly. "In this sense, the goal has been to go beyond the notion of Belgium." The particular 'Belgium' the exhibition is concerned with, is a quasi-abstracted instance, the concept of a decision-making entity with a strong influence on shifting world relations.
Five conceptual trends, each illustrated by a telling quote from the pages of international literature, will outline the ambitions of the exhibition even further.
Special attention is paid to the distinction between 'identity and otherness', the notions of 'space and time', the shifting boundaries between the 'inside and the outside' (exemplified by the concept of the nomadic), and the role of art in a world where a great deal of important notions have come to be under question.
A geographical approach defining the facial features of different constellations in the Belgian artistic production of the last decades could have been a possibility for this project. However, it is preceded by initiatives like "La Belgique visionnaire" curated by Harald Szeeman (2005), "Doing it my Way. Perspective on Belgian Art" by Lorenzo Benedetti (2008) and "ABC. Art Belge Contemporain" by Dominique Païni (2010), among others. The Belgian art has been subject to interpretations, assumptions, descriptions and adjectives, that, while positioned between myth and reality, have also drawn an identity in itself elusive.
Over the past two years, the dialogue with the artists allowed the curator to grasp how they positioned themselves and their work in relation or not with that identity (polymorphous, multilingual and transcultural). The denial of this construct became her own refusal, in order to get rid of possible ties and preconceptions and thus leave open the canal to doubt and constant questioning.
The plurality of discourses, the transversal approaches of most artists and the international nature of the artistic proposals also allowed her to establish important links, bridges and communicating vessels with other latitudes, and ultimately, with target visitors for this project in Latin America. A range of transversal conceptual trends are proposed which try to map common problematics we shared today, but that we might understand and express differently depending on the specific context.
The exhibition is a departure point as a laboratory/platform with specific but also global cultural dynamics and geopolitical approaches, in the center of Europe and on the decision-making towards the rest of the world. In this sense, subjects related to power and memory, to the binomial identity-otherness, conflicts and borders, human relations with both the technosphere and biosphere in the context of the globalization are developed on the exhibition.
The opening of the Cuban exhibition will be followed by a week of events related to it, comprising several conferences during which the artists involved in the exhibition will present their work, as well as round tables and panel discussions, a documentary program and an educational programme.
Marcel Broodthaers (Brussels, 1924 - Cologne, 1976) Chantal Akerman (Brussels, 1950)Francis Alÿs (Antwerpen, 1959)Charif Benhelima (Brussel, 1967)Guillaume Bijl (Anwerpen, 1946)Michaël Borremans (Geraardsbergen, 1963)Dirk Braeckman (Eeklo, 1958)Jacques Charlier (Liège, 1939)David Claerbout (Kortrijk, 1969)Leo Copers (Gent, 1947)Patrick Corillon (Knokke, 1959)Cel Crabeels (Brecht, 1958)Berlinde De Bruyckere (Gent, 1964)Jan De Cock (Brussel, 1976)Peter de Cupere (Leuven, 1970)Carl De Keyzer (Kortrijk, 1958)Raoul De Keyser (Deinze, 1930 - Deinze, 2012)Edith Dekyndt (Ieper, 1960)Wim Delvoye (Wervik, 1965)Fred Eerdekens (Heusden-Zolder, 1951)Jan Fabre (Antwerpen, 1958)Michel François (Sint-Truiden, 1956)Kendell Geers (Johannesburg, South Africa, 1968)Johan Grimonprez (Roeselare, 1962)Ann Veronica Janssens (Folkestone, United Kingdom, 1956) Marie-Jo Lafontaine (Antwerpen, 1950)Jacques Lizène (Ougrée-Seraing, 1946)Kris Martin (Kortrijk, 1972)Hans Op de Beeck (Turnhout, 1969)Walter Swennen (Brussel, 1946)Pascale Marthine Tayou (Yaoundé, Cameroon, 1967)Ana Torfs (Mortsel, 1963)Joëlle Tuerlinckx (Brussel, 1958)Philippe Vandenberg (Gent, 1952 - Brussel, 2009)Koen van den Broek (Bree, 1973)Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven (Antwerpen, 1951)Koen Vanmechelen (Sint-Truiden, 1965)Lieve Van Stappen (Wilrijk, 1958)Bruno Vekemans (Antwerpen, 1952)Angel Vergara Santiago (Mieres, Spain, 1958)
13 February until 26 April 2015
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, La Habana, Cuba
4 July until 12 September 2015
Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Buenos Aires, Argentina
2 December 2015 until 14 February 2016
Museo de Arte Moderna, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
11 July until 14 July 2016
Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo, Brasil
More: Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, La Habana, Cuba
With the support of the government of Flanders