The Absent Museum
20 April - 13 August 2017
Group Show, WIELS Contemporary Art Center, Brussels, Belgium
Blueprint for a museum of contemporary art for the capital of Europe
To mark its 10th anniversary, WIELS presents a large-scale exhibition to be held not only at our fully refurbished Blomme building but also in the two adjacent buildings, which were also formerly part of the Wielemans brewery site.
The title, The Absent Museum, is a nod to the decisive influence that symbolist, ‘mystical-mysterious’ thinking has had and continues to have on Belgian modernity. WIELS does not have the status of a museum, but is commonly referred to as ‘the WIELS museum’. This is a token not only of recognition, but also of the expectations that the Belgian audience and public opinion have towards WIELS as an institution. WIELS therefore has decided to use this temporary exhibition to set out a substantive framework or blueprint for a possible museum of contemporary art in the capital of Europe.
The annual Kunstenfestivaldesarts,is – like WIELS – an important platform for artistic creation and the exchange of ideas. It is thus an obvious ally for such a project. This exhibition will be both a look backwards at the journey that WIELS has made so far and an exploration of its future development. In the process, this local discussion will be anchored within an international perspective of art and globalisation. How can artists maintain the tension between globalisation’s paradoxes and history’s turbulences, and their individual sensibilities and voices?
In the light of these issues and recent turbulent historical developments, it is striking to see how absent the art museums remain in urgent, public debate. Although museums – especially those devoted to contemporary art – have never been as popular as they are today, they are still notably absent from the public space and their voice goes unheard in the formation of public opinion.
Existing works and new productions by about 45 contemporary and historical artists will face, translate and interpret the challenges that face museums today, as well as the communities they inspire.
Francis Alÿs, Archives de l’Ambassade Universelle, Tarek Atoui, Jo Baer, Monika Baer, Sammy Baloji, Guillaume Bijl, Marcel Broodthaers, stanley brouwn, Daniel Dewar & Gregory Gicquel, Marlene Dumas, Jimmie Durham, Jana Euler, Olivier Foulon, Michel François, Ellen Gallagher, Isa Genzken, Jef Geys, Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys, Thomas Hirschhorn, Carsten Höller, Ann Veronica Janssens, Martin Kippenberger, Goshka Macuga, Mark Manders, Lucy McKenzie, Wesley Meuris, Jean-Luc Moulène, Le Mur, Oscar Murillo, Otobong Nkanga, Willem Oorebeek, Marina Pinsky, Lili Reynaud-Dewar, Gerhard Richter, Walter Swennen, Wolfgang Tillmans, Rosemarie Trockel, Luc Tuymans, Peter Wächtler, Christopher Williams, Nil Yalter…
Exhibition design WIELS : Richard Venlet
Curated by Dirk Snauwaert
together with Zoë Gray, Frédérique Versaen, Caroline Dumalin & Charlotte Friling.
Catalogue edited by Dirk Snauwaert and coordinated by Charlotte Friling will be co-produced by WIELS and the Mercator Fund (Mercatorfonds), including texts by Manuel Borja-Villal, Catherine David, Charles Esche and Dirk Snauwaert
An initiative realised with the special support of la Fondation Willame, Fundación Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso para el arte and the WIELS Patrons, in collaboration with Kunstenfestivaldesarts.