Feature

Art to See in Brussels

18.04.2017

by Niekolaas Johannes Lekkerkerk

New artistic director of Brussels' off-fair Poppositions Niekolaas Johannes Lekkerkerk shares his exhibition highlights during Brussels Art Week.

Marked by the programmatic frame and leitmotiv of Don’t Agonize, Organize! – inspired by a text by philosopher Rosi Braidotti – this year’s edition of Poppositions centers around the idea that art needs to be more political than ever: at times militantly and publicly, at a material-discursive level, at engaging us in acts of consciousness-raising to recognise our place in a scheme of things, and at rendering ourselves sensitive to matters of shared concern (more than matters of post-fact). As Artistic Director of Poppositions, I am interested in putting these matters of concern on the table, to create momentum to share our hopes and aspirations, to bring together fieldwork from different localities and create a new patchwork of propositions towards enacting political transformation and disruption artistically.

Below a selection of my events and exhibition highlights taking place during Brussels Art Week resonating with my interest in expanding political imaginaries – locally, materially, institutionally, linguistically, and so on, and so forth.

The Absent Museum at Wiels

To Pompidou, or not to Pompidou?, it’s not really a question: Brussels already has a museum for contemporary art, it’s called Wiels. Marking its 10th anniversary, Wiels is presenting the large-scale exhibition entitledThe Absent Museum, a temporary exhibition in search of a substantive framework or blueprint for a possible museum of contemporary art in the capital of Europe. 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?

Notes On Our Equilibrium at CAB

Why has our connection to nature become so mediated? Why do we have to pass by statistics and theories to become aware of our own disconnect? And since when did the Internet become a necessary portal to reach an Instagram-worthy recovery and pure connection to nature? These are some of the questions posed in light of Notes On Our Equilibrium, a group exhibition conceived as an invitation into a rediscovered holistic worldview – one in which humankind considers itself to be indebted to and part of nature’s ecosystems, rather than exploiting it. The show includes works by Isabelle Andriessen and Carlos Irijalba, two artists I have work with before and consider to be very relevant in thinking through the frames the exhibition puts forward.

A Global Cube at LUCA School of Arts

I never met Valentinas Klimasauskas and probably won’t this time, but admire his wonderful gift for storytelling, for animating and speaking with microbes, exhibitions and rivers in unexpected ways, with yet unexpected outcomes. As part of The School of Curating – a project by the Brussels-based space Komplot – Valentinas will present the lecture A Global Cube at LUCA School of Arts:

In the age of so-called “post-truth world”, when some scientists speculate that the Universe might be a hologram, when we discuss our intra-actions from the molecular to global levels, when the world’s structure is described as the so-called “Stack,” an accidental megastructure, that is both a computational apparatus and a new governing architecture,” and the Big Data is called an information bomb, when our lives are already being changed by the global warming (even if some still deny it), when concepts like hyper-objects are traversing the universe as we know it and as we don’t; what are the reasons that we are still fixated on the White Cube as a framing device?

Remco Torenbosch – Integration at SALOON

As he immersed himself in his research on the local and global impact of the Dutch East Indies Industrialisation, Remco Torenbosch interests were drawn to two companies rooted in the former Dutch colonies: tin mining company Billiton Maatschappij (founded in 1852) and natural rubber production company Rubber Cultuur Maatschappij Amsterdam (founded in 1856). Analysing the production and distributional data of both companies in the national archives, and visiting several tin mines and rubber plantations on Sumatra and Java in 2015, Torenbosch became aware of the significant role these two distinctive industries played in the dematerialisation of the contemporary digitalised economy.

Simon Asencio – The Book of Rumours at Bureau des Réalités

The Book of Rumors, plots living stories parasitizing human psyche to persist in time. These stories slumber in bodies, and at times, surface to communicate with us – or perhaps through us. They morph into new shapes like dead languages slip into living ones.This elusive quote marks the outset for the project The Book of Rumours by artist Simon Asencio at Bureau des Réalités. During his residency period at this Brussels-based project space, Simon has initiated a collecting process of rumours through a series of announcements in local newspapers and magazines. The ads comprise of an offer for exchange or trade of rumors, inviting the reader to engage in the elaboration of a personal rumor, with the artist, made-to-meuse and spread.

Niekolaas Johannes Lekkerkerk is a curator and writer for The Office for Curating in Rotterdam and this year's Artistic Director of Poppositions in Brussels. In his practice, Niekolaas is primarily concerned with social and political discourses revolving around daily living and working practices, cultural norms and ideologies. More specifically, he is concerned with debates around the Anthropocene, ecology and climate, posthumanism and the increasing intertwinement of nature and culture. Recent exhibition projects with The Office for Curating include the group exhibition Tradition Doesn't Graduate (2016) at Komplot, Brussels; Spending Quality Time With My Quantified Self (2016) at TENT, Rotterdam; the solo exhibition Sliding under Traces (2016) by artist Paul Geelen at A Tale of a Tub in Rotterdam; The Earthbound, a screening series that took place at Cannonball, Miami (2015); the group exhibition The Museum of Unconditional Surrender (2015) at TENT, Rotterdam; the group exhibition Percussive Hunter (2015) at Akbank Sanat, Istanbul; as well as the group exhibition John Smith, the Posthuman (2014) at the Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht. He is currently working on the forthcoming book publication The Standard Book of Noun-Verb Exhibition Grammar, and is preparing the exhibition Homestead of Dilution featuring artists Domenico Mangano & Marieke van Rooy, which will open in May 2017 at the Nomas Foundation in Rome. 

The Office for Curating
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Poppositions, 20 - 23 April 2017
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About Art to See 

Art to See is ArtRabbit’s new series of editor’s picks. We’ve invited leading artists, curators and writers to share with us exhibitions and art events that left an impression on them.

What London-based art practitioner would you like to hear from? You can email us your suggestions at support@artrabbit.com. 

More exhibitions in Brussels