Walter SwennenThe Absent Museum
WIELS, 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, Younes Baba-Ali, Jo Baer, Monika Baer, Sammy Baloji, Guillaume Bijl, Dirk Braeckman, Marcel Broodthaers, stanley brouwn, Daniel Dewar & Gregory Gicquel, Marlene Dumas, Jimmie Durham, Jana Euler, Olivier Foulon, Michel François, Ellen Gallagher, Mekhitar Garabedian, Isa Genzken, Jef Geys, Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys, Thomas Hirschhorn, Carsten Höller, Cameron Jamie, Ann Veronica Janssens, Martin Kippenberger, Goshka Macuga, Mark Manders, Lucy McKenzie, Wesley Meuris, Nástio Mosquito, Jean-Luc Moulène, Le Mur, Oscar Murillo, Otobong Nkanga, Felix Nussbaum, 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, assisted by Carlo Siegfried.
Curated by Dirk Snauwaert