Congo Collection, Research Building – Cultural Centre Knokke-Heist, BelgiumExhibition views
31 Oktober 2010 - 16 January 2011
The Cultural Center of Knokke-Heist, invited artist Wesley Meuris to create an exhibition with the collection of Mr. Joseph Schelfhout, Congolese sculptures and objects. In this context Meuris designed a total system in the form of a ‘museum’ and gave it the title ‘Research Building. Eventually he brought the collect Schelfhout as part of his museum structure. The installation ‘Research Building “covers almost the entire surface of the culture center.
Indeed, the questions surrounding the authenticity of the displayed African pieces or our relationship to the Congo, represent a reason for Meuris to an impressive discourse to establish the history and functions of museums, the evolution of the exhibition design and the role of the artist and its installation in this data, the position and experience of the viewer in the exhibition process and much more.
We may claim that both the subject and the context of the exhibition ‘Research Building’, are the analysis, conservation, exhibition of and communication about (art) objects, in all their institutional parts and translations. ‘Research Building’ functions as a search and research engine, now metaphorical, then again poetical, critical, theoretical or emotional. In this sense, the Schelfhout collection forms an interesting point of departure for Meuris, and he approaches it critically; but it is not the subject of this exhibition. The collection of Congolese sculptures is presented by Meuris in a consciously flashy design, and stripped of any reference. It is presented as a nearly endless flood of images that seem to be completely interchangeable and which function as decorative ‘ethnic objects’ as they are found in many private homes. By its presence and lack of authenticity, the ‘Congo Collection’ not only gives the ‘Research Building’ a research subject, but also partly lends it legitimation. In the end, this exhibition installation also serves as a ‘museum’, with a ‘real’ collection of objects. Meuris works with the image of a visitor who is sent out to investigate through a labyrinthine exhibition installation, conceived as a museum, with an experience and analysis of both as a purpose.