The Belgian Pavilion at the 56th Venice Art Biennale presents the work of the Belgian artist Vincent Meessen, together with international guest artists.
The artist’s project moves away from the traditional format of a solo show and opens up the Pavilion to include multiple positions and voices. The title, Personne et les autres, is borrowed from a lost play by André Frankin, a Belgian art critic affiliated with the Lettrist and Situationist Internationals. The exhibition aims to reflect upon the legacy of Internationalism, the twentieth century labour-movement theory, which advocated international solidarity as a global emancipatory project.
Central to the exhibition concept is a new work by Vincent Meessen filmed in Kinshasa. This piece explores the largely unknown participation of Congolese intellectuals within the last international vanguard of modernity: the Situationist International, whose final conference took place in Venice in 1969. Belgium’s colonial history and its strategic role in the Situationist International – through key figures such as Raoul Vaneigem – form a crucial backdrop for understanding twentieth century political and artistic avant-gardes in Europe. In exploring this aspect of the Situationist International, Meessen’s work uncovers hidden episodes in the interrelated histories of art, popular music and activism, which are considered within a larger musical and trans-cultural context.
Personne et les autres focuses not on the colonial history of Congo and Belgium, but on colonial modernity and its ongoing relation to artistic and intellectual radicalism. Exploring both adverse and positive cultural outcomes of colonial history, it reveals artistic and intellectual dialogues and exchanges formed during colonisation and liberation struggles in the aftermath of independence.
Personne et les autres, Vincent Meessen and guests
9 May – 22 November, 2015
Artists: Sammy Baloji, James Beckett, Elisabetta Benassi,
Patrick Bernier & Olive Martin, Tamar Guimarães and Kasper Akhøj,
Maryam Jafri, Adam Pendleton
Curated by Katerina Gregos
– Vincent Meessen, Location photograph for “Un-Deux-Trois”, Kinshasa, 2014 courtesy of the artist and Normal.
– Vincent Meessen, Location photograph for “Un-Deux-Trois”, Kinshasa, 2014 courtesy of the artist and Normal
– Olive & Patrick [Patrick Bernier & Olive Martin] L’Echiqueté (Checkered Chess), 2012 pieces and chessboard photography credit: Olive Martin
– James Beckett, Dowsing Schools: Preliminary Findings and Corresponding Survey Kit, 2013, mixed media with reel to reel playback dimensions variable, courtesy the artist, photography credit Cassander Eeftinck Schattenkerk
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