“museum”

Carine Fol, inspired curator

Artistic Director of La Centrale, Carine Fol presents “Private Choices”, a selection of eleven collections of contemporary art from Brussels. Conceptual objects, political pieces and even sensual images… Eleven intimate adventures running until 27 May. Interview.   La Centrale is Belgium’s hotspot for contemporary creativity. The art center is sponsored by the city of Brussels and is located in a former power station on Place Sainte-Catherine. Carine Fol, artistic director of this extraordinary place, has brought the programming here to life since 2012.  An art historian and specialist in “outsider” art, for the past ten years this supercharged woman has directed Art & Marges, a singular space dedicated to the creation of asylum and to self-taught artists. Today, at La Centrale, she’s receiving an ambitious exhibition; “Private Choices”. Eleven collections of contemporary art from within Brussels… with just as many varying perspectives on the world.   ‘Private Choices’, is the story of eleven adventures – sometimes intimate, sometimes intellectual, often sensitive… What’s the thinking behind the exhibition? I wanted to show the decisive, and increasingly important role that collectors play in the field of contemporary art. I also wanted to explore their freedom with regard to public collections, with intuition being an important factor in many of the collections. I think that this exhibition, with 250 works of art, breaks down the preconceived idea of a collector – the image of a player in the art market who invests in contemporary art for speculative purposes. Collectors actually take a lot of risks, and are often very close to the artists.  In Frédéric de Goldschmidt’s collection, we have Cy Twombly alongside the work of a student just out of art school, demonstrating that often gut feeling is really what informs a decision. Those decisions, as part of a museum institution,...

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Museum in a Garage

Already the seat of the European Union, will Brussels soon be the new hub for contemporary art? In any case, it’s what Rudi Vervoort, patron of the Brussels-Capital region, has in mind. At the heart of the project is the iconic Citroën garage on Place de l’Yser. So what are the returns on this crazy bet?   There’s no longer any doubt that with the big – and rather extravagant-opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, last November, France has not quite finished establishing its cultural expertise and influence abroad. It is also clear that within the art world, the Centre Georges-Pompidou is truly enjoying the wind in its sails. After the success of its Iberian pop-up, which ran for five years in the Andalusian city of Malaga, the Parisian museum institution has surfed a wave of recognition and new partnerships, moving into Shanghai as soon as 2019, with Brussels on the horizon in 2020-2021. Nestled in the heart of the Belgian capital, at the crossroads between Place de l’Yser and the Quai de Willebroeck, the iconic Citroën garage has been chosen to become the future cultural and artistic hub of the “flat country”. Located on the edge of the canal, just a stone’s throw from Place Sainctelette, the garage was erected in 1933 following plans drawn up by André Citroën himself, who had ambitions to create the biggest car factory in Europe. The lovely glass palace, 21 meters tall, is characterized by a curved curtain façade, all built on 2 hectares of land. It would be nearly a century before the fate of the site changed course. In October 2015, the land was bought by the Society of Urban Planning (SAU), a real estate concern of the Brussels-Capital region, for €20.5 million, with the intention of making it the...

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A boomerang effect in Geneva

The MEG is dedicating an exhibition to the diversity and wealth of Australia’s arts. “L’Effet boomerang. Les arts aborigènes d’Australie”, thus offers insight into the colonisation of this country, from a political and aesthetic perspective. It was in 1770 that British explorer James Cook, acting as a representative of King George III, became the first Westerner to set foot on the Terra incognita, today known as Australia. Even if the land was already populated, the explorer still dubbed this territory as Terra nullius – “no man’s land”, an expression that says a great deal about the way indigenous people were long considered as a primitive society. However, the “material culture” developed by Australia’s 270 or so ethnicities over the 60,000 years in which they had inhabited the territory would whet the interest of Western travellers. Many European goods were exchanged for local fetishes, sometimes painlessly, for the Aborigines had the means to reproduce these artefacts easily. It was during this period that Australia became a “contact zone” between two worlds, two space-time bodies. In the Second Preface to Bajazet, Racine stated that “spatial distance may compensate for temporal proximity”. By discovering Australia, the West conquered the ends of the Earth, and made the acquaintance of a radical otherness, originally viewed according to an axiology riddled with prejudices pitting the primitive against the civilised or the natural against the social. What remained to be constructed were bridges between two territories but also across the centuries. Not exactly straightforward, as anthropologists Herbert Spencer and Francis James Gillen noted. For the Aborigines, the time of individuals is integrated into the notion of the Dreaming or the Dreamtime, a poetic expression coined by anthropologist Francis James Gillen to describe the pervasive mythology of humans meeting their ancestors during ritual ceremonies. From an aboriginal...

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Peter Campus, withdrawal and extension

The Musée du Jeu de Paume is devoting a rare and beautiful retrospective to the work of Peter Campus, a video-art pioneer who remains too little known in France. From collective introspection to the serenity of his recent years, we take a glimpse at his trajectory. It’s a shame how rare are the opportunities that arise to see Peter Campus’ work in France. Only one appearance stands out in the last five years. That was in 2015, at the Galerie mfc-michèle didier exhibition “Anarchive, Affinités / Diversités”, presenting a collection of interactive multimedia projects. On that occasion, Peter Campus’ video offshore (2013) was presented: a fixed shot of the banks of Shinnecock Bay (New York State) synthesized into large reworked pixels. The last solo exhibition of Peter Campus in France dates all the way back to 1993: a project at La Box, the gallery of the École Nationale Supérieure d’Art de Bourges. And there’s a good reason for this rarity… If Peter Campus’ video work is so little displayed, it’s because they’re a real headache to show. Regarding Optical Sockets (1972-1973), made up of four video-surveillance cameras placed on tripods on floor-level, each at a corner of a square, with four monitors superimposing the images of visitors penetrating the field of the camera’s range, the video artist exclaims: “We took two days simply to adjust the settings of this installation!” More than mere logistical issues, his setups also gave him cause to worry about the endurance of his work. “Once the work is switched off, it’s over. It’s not as if it could stay present like a sculpture in a museum. I didn’t know if my installations could live more than a few years,” he explained to Mathilde Roman in the exhibition catalogue. With “peter campus, video ergo sum”,...

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Centre Pompidou: pipe dreams

Delivered by architects Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano in 1977, the Centre Pompidou recently celebrated its 40th birthday. We retrace this museum, social and monumental adventure. An account of the “Pompidou touch”, an example of interdisciplinarity and cultural renown. The 40th birthday of the Centre National d’Art et de Culture Georges-Pompidou, in Paris, is a national event. The Centre Pompidou was quick to become a world icon, a symbol of France’s avant-garde spirit, supported by the French president Georges Pompidou, and known for its once contested architecture, designed by the Italian-British architectural duo, Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano. At the time, some compared the building to a supermarket… “All the better. People won’t be afraid of entering it,” Piano is said to have replied. “Pompidou wanted to reconcile France with the culture of his time, noting that while our country, under the influence of André Malraux, had turned to the arts with conviction, it experienced certain difficulties in taking in more recent innovations from contemporary creation,” observed the museum’s president from 1996 to 2002, Jean-Jacques Aillagon, to Le Figaro. Planted in a once working-class district, coming up with the museum plan, then building it, were real gambles, pulling along with it a few modern and contemporary art galleries, such as the very first one to set up in the area, Daniel Templon, at 30 Rue Beaubourg, in 1972, opposite the gaping hole that awaited the museum at the time. We should mention that on the international avant-garde scene – which was starting to globalise and meet strong competition –, Paris needed a museum to reshuffle the contemporary-art cards. Inaugurated in 1977 with an exhibition on Marcel Duchamp and curated by Jean Clair, the museum, directed by Pontus Hulten from Sweden at the time, put on one themed exhibition after...

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