Founded in 2012, Super Dakota is one of the most refreshing and interesting art niche in Brussels. Their current group exhibition (DYS)-TROPISM, created as a reaction to the current political and social crisis that are challenging our planet , is on view until May 27. For the occasion we discussed politics and culture with Damîen Bertelle-Rogier, founder and director of the gallery.
Why was it important to present an exhibition like (DYS)-TROPISM at Super Dakota?
With everything happening in the world, it was important for us at Super Dakota to use our platform in order to engage with our community and our audience. I think we often don’t realise that we are living in a well-designed dystopia. The model of our western societies is failing the people and many of us feel disenchanted and hopeless.
Culture and Politics, which one influences the other the most? And why?
I think artists have always been the voices of reaction against social issues. From Goya to Zola, or Eisenstein to Buys there are many examples. To make art is always an engagement after all. I think there’s a constant flux between the two entities. Politics has inspired Culture, this is certain, the other way around is more complex to analyse and has in my opinion a smaller impact. However, regimes have used Art as propaganda since the Medici, even the abstract expressionists were used by the CIA to promote western values. Art transcends nature and is the pure manifestation of the human genius, it is only normal that Politics exploits its virtues. Lastly I will say that the cultural sector depends on different laws and tax mechanisms which allows it to function and grow.
Why art and creation are important in times of crisis and in a politically tense environment?
In this time of crisis, the landscape is flooded with opinion on all sides, founded or not, reactionary or thoughtful. This is especially true of the times we are in now with so many channels of communication. So many ideas and stances are being articulated through written language, creating static, and visual language comes forward as a more appropriate form of communication in many cases. Many of these feelings associated with our current landscape need a more abstract form of representation to be properly executed and affect the public in a more emotional way, a way that a self affirming online article or a grim statistical analysis cannot.
How did you chose the artists featured in this show?
The exhibition features artists we have met across the world, from different generations. We invited them because they all were engaging on specific issues, such as technology, environment, freedom, culture or education. Some of the artists and work in the show, like !Mediengruppe Bitnik’s installations, were an obvious and clear choice from the beginning others were more spontaneous finds. For example Barbara Westermann, whom I met for the first time during a recent trip to New York and whose prints just happened to fit really well into the exhibition. All the artists we approached responded positively when we explained the project to them.
Art and culture are there to raise questions, to open dialogues, to make people think. How, as a gallery, you make sure that your audience engages/interacts with an exhibition like (DYS)-TROPISM?
Super Dakota has an open door policy. We are easy to access, if you visited the gallery you know that we are sitting at the table at the end of the space and we encourage visitors to ask questions. This is a value we are passionate about. It’s especially true with this exhibition, some of the work is not easy to read and we have deliberately put very little information in our press release as we want to invite the viewer into a conversation.