The Belgian Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale will centre around the work of the Belgian artist Vincent Meessen, who has in turn invited a group of international guest artists to exhibit works alongside his own. Meessen is a research-based artist whose practice focusses on revealing previously untold stories and micro histories. For the Belgian Pavilion he focusses on various outcomes of colonial encounters, through his own work and those of other artists from around the world.
Central to the Pavilion is Meessen’s film that documents recording sessions taking place at the legendary home of the Congolese rumba. Described as The Graceland of Rumba, Un-Deux-Trois in Kinshasa is a complex comprising a nightclub, rehearsal rooms, recording studios and offices from which the Rumba legend Franco ran his record label empire. For the Belgian Pavilion commission, the artist unearthed a letter in Brussels containing song lyrics and music written by a Congolese rumba musician and avant-garde artist. The letter proves that there were Congolese members of the Situationist International and that the ideas of this revolutionary political and artistic movement travelled to the Congo and became incorporated into elements of Congolese culture. Vincent Meessen has travelled to Kinshasa to film the recording of the song for the first time.
Exhibiting alongside Vincent Meessen are artists Mathieu K. Abonnenc, Sammy Baloji, James Beckett, Elisabetta Benassi, Patrick Bernier & Olive Martin, Tamar Guimarães and Kasper Akhøj. Maryam Jafri and Adam Pendleton.