For those who never been there, Antwerp is a wonderful place that you need to discover as soon as you can. Filled with art, fashion, architecture, history and design, the city shines with its creativity and its originality. Definitely more cutting-edge than Brussels, its contemporary art scene is one of the most exciting in Europe, presenting a wide range of art galleries, art centers and museums. The young artists and creatives there are literally on fire, making their city a vibrating and inspiring spot for contemporary art, driving the local scene and becoming ultimate trend setters. With its dreamy coffee shops, its high profile art/fashion schools, and its stylish boutiques, Antwerp is your perfect arty getaway this summer.
Over a week ago, I decided to leave Brussels for a day and to go discover the contemporary art museum of Antwerp (M HKA), a leading institution facing the famous Antwerp’s docks. It was a pretty smart move as their current major group exhibition “Don’t You Know Who I Am? – Art After Identity Politic” is probably one of the best show I’ve seen this year so far.
Curated by Anders Kreuger and Nav Haq, the exhibition displays the works of twenty seven emergent international and local artists. Through different medium (such as installations,digital art, paintings, sculptures, video, performance, collage, etc.) they are ” (…)reflecting how emergent artists relate to issues of ‘identity politics’ today. (…)Various groups in society have, during recent decades, defined themselves along political, economic or social lines such as race, ethnicity, gender or sexuality in order to enhance their visibility and overcome marginalisation. After this established discourse of identity politics, often associated with the art of the 1980s, artists are once again considering notions of identity and what they mean in the contemporary world”*.
Very powerful and diverse, this massive exhibition is like a giant laboratory where theories, analysis, and aesthetic are made and experienced. For the first time in a very long time, I took a moment to look at each different artwork, to understand it, and feel it in its context. It’s very participative, and displayed in a way that made us feel included and somehow part of this incredible project. I also got the vibe that most of these artists were politically and socially engaged, or at least very aware of the identity/identification issues in our societies today.
The exhibition counts such an incredible amount of great pieces, that it is simply impossible for me to chose what were my favourites ones. However, two were particularly outstanding and strong : the “Singing Cloud” & “Untitled” of Indian artist Shilpa Gupta, and “And They Still Seek The Traces Of Blood ” of Pakistani artist Imran Qureshi. Both are very sensorial installations :
“Singing Cloud is an installation that takes the form of a large amorphous shape constructed using 4000 microphones. The work considers the psychological impact of today’s highly mediated information landscape, where fear and suspicion are cultivated”**
“And They Still Seek the Traces of Blood… is an environment filled with 24,000 large sheets of paper. Each has images of Qureshi’s previous floor paintings printed on both sides, crumpled, and together used to fill a space that people can enter. Civilisation and its capacity for destruction and oppression based on perceived differences between human subjects is a central theme in Qureshi’s work. Together the sheets might be seen to represent the numerous incidents of conflict and violence taking place at any one time, and the act of crumpling suggesting ignorance of such events”***
You don’t have any excuse to miss this amazing show now. Note that the exhibition runs until September 14th. All the information that you need are right HERE.
*** Original text