As announced last week, i’m going to dedicate a few posts to the International Biennial of Photography and Visual Arts – aka BIP2010 – which is taking place all over Liège until April 25, 2010.
Because the city is located in the french-speaking part of Belgium and is only a short distance away from The Netherlands and Germany, the biennale is in french, dutch and german. Not just the website but all the captions and information inside the exhibition spaces are in 3 languages. Which i think is pretty laudable. Only the theme of the biennale, (OUT OF) CONTROL, is english though. BIP2010 has invited about a hundred artists to question society’s growing desire for control, surveillance, and regulation. A worrying tendency which (fortunately) leaves space for accident, irrationality, for the unexpected and the absurd.
Each exhibition space focuses on a different aspect of this (OUT OF) CONTROL theme. The Musée d’Art Wallon (the Museum of Walloon Art), for example, had chosen to turn its gaze on Equilibrium and Accident. Some artists push the limits of control or protection and go -or rather perform- all the way to the fall. Others, stop right at its borders, right before they loose balance.
The MAW is a gloomy, austere building right in the middle of the historical part Liège. But before i proceed with a brief review of what hangs inside its walls, here are some images i took in the neighbourhood of the museum:
Visitors get to experience the idea of Equilibrium and Accident right at the entrance of the exhibition room. There, Julien Berthier‘s Revolution light spins around the room fast and furious just above their head. I’m not sure how tall you have to be experiment with the sensation of receiving the chandelier right onto your face. You want to get nearer and observe it better, yet the object is fairly menacing. How close can you go? I couldn’t help wonder what the notoriously fastidious Health and Safety would have done with the piece had it been installed in the UK.
Julien Berthier, Revolution Light, 2006
In comparison with the chandelier, Tilman Peschel‘s Revolution photo series portray an almost mute and collected notion of danger. Protected by the layers of foam he had wrapped around his body, the artist wanders around the Black Forest in search of risky situations he can put himself into.
© Tilman Peschel, from the series “Revolution”, 2003 – 2004
Roman Signer‘s video 56 Kleine Helicopter shows 56 toy helicopters neatly positioned on the floor. The moment they take off, they seem to turn into a swarm of dragonflies. Only they are just a dumb, noisy and pathetic version of the insect, they collide onto one another and come crashing to the floor. Video.
Roman Signer, 56 kleine Helicopter (2008)
A few steps away from the MAW is the cultural center Les Brasseurs / L’Annexe. The space is remarkably similar to any ex-industrial or ex-commercial venue converted into a contemporary art space…
but their café is charming (Les Brasseurs, after all, means “the brewers”), with disparate chairs, mismatched floor tiles and wooden ceiling.
The sub-theme explored at Les Brasseurs is (Out of) Time. Time, which unlike space appears to be entirely beyond man’s control, is the material investigated by artists, in a more or less literal way.
The reflective world photographed by Sarah van Marcke is both out of space and out of time. Even the architectural elements seem to be in search for function and meaning.
Sarah van Marcke, Untitled (Drive-in), from the series Places, 2009
Sarah Van Marcke, PostFab#4, 2006
Young photographer Laurie Polson’s take on time is an investigation into the professions associated with death. Hence this portrait of an undertaker from Florenville, Belgium:
Laurie Polson, Francis, Directeur funèbre, Florenville, février 2009
Matthew Pillsbury made almost palpable the hours that passes in the rooms of these guardians of time called museums.
Matthew Pillsbury, Self Portrait Contemplating Wapiti, 2004
Matthew Pillsbury, Looking at La Joconde, Salle Des Etats, Le Louvre, 2008
BIP2010, the International Biennial of Photography and Visual Arts, is open until April 25, 2010 in Liège, Belgium.