Almagul Menlibayeva, My Friends, 2010, Photography, 53.5 x 80.2 x 2.3 cm.
Materials: lambda print, alu di-bond,
Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp (Inv. no. S0441_07).
The exhibition Urgent Conversations: Athens–Antwerp is a collaboration between EMST and M HKA, a theoretical and visual dialogue, based on works from the collections of both museums, which includes more than 70 works structured in 22 topics.
EMST, National Museum of Contemporary Art - Kallirrois Avenue & Amvr. Frantzi Str., Athens 11743
Urgent Conversations: Athens – Antwerp is the first temporary exhibition in the long overdue public unfolding of the Greek National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens (EMST). The project offers a reflective dialogue between the collections of EMST and M HKA, the Flemish Contemporary Art Museum, based in Antwerp. This exhibition commences the program EMST in the World.
The impulse of both Urgent Conversations: Athens – Antwerp, and EMST in the World is the necessity of cultural dialogue on a global scale, also within multifaceted Europe. Societies nowadays tend to polarize in 49 % versus 51 % camps, negotiations start from antagonistic positions as a default position, introversion and individualism became entrenched states. There may be loftier aspirations than the capacity of conversation, but its recent fragility often reached critical levels and can be described as an urgent situation.
Urgent Conversations: Athens – Antwerp has been developed bottom up, each time starting from work of a Greek and a Belgian artist, that resonate, searching a notion that arises from this resonance, then adding a third artist from elsewhere in one of the two collections. In this way the exhibition was structured around 22 notions with each time work of three artists in a dialogue around it, the total consisting of more than 70 works from 66 artists.
This exhibition enacts the belief of both museums that works of art may constantly emanate new meanings, open questions and initiate a much-desired dialogue, that basic ground for human culture. This project is therefore also a counter-proposal to cultural and curatorial sameness, opting instead for a multitude of convincing constellations of subjects, impossible to exhaust, leading up to discussions concerning both individual and collective realizations, and to actions.
Athens and Antwerp seem to represent two extremes of Europe today, but at the same time, Greece and Flanders are both regions of Europe that added many crucial threads to its cultural fabric. Institutions like EMST and M HKA may further cultivate that. EMST in the World will develop in the same vein further dialectical relations between EMST and institutions elsewhere with corresponding aims and practices, geared to the research and curation of contemporary art and other contemporary cultural manifestations.
Almagul Menlibayeva, Forever Umai, 2010, Photography, 96.5 x 127 x 5.5 cm.
Materials: Duratrans in Light Box, Cibachrome, Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp (Inv. no. S0441_03).
31.10.2016 - 29.01.2017
THE SPACE OF GROUNDED IMAGINATION
This description came to our mind when discussing the possible proximity of artists such as Jan Fabre, Maria Papadimitriou, and Almagul Menlibayeva.
In daily life, we tend to put imagination aside, as a luxury, or as something that is empty and unrelated to reality. But isn’t imagination one of the basic fields of art, perhaps the most important one in its capacity to help us? Art offers an imagination that remains grounded in our experiences and endows art objects with sense. While we have a tendency to group artists thematically, it may be good to pull together seemingly diverse positions in order to discover that works depicting the horror of our world, dreaming mankind or reflecting on one’s position in between future and past horizons, may in art actually imply one another. Imagination encircles the world, as Albert Einstein once stated.
Fabre here sculpts out of jewel-beetles the ultimate form: the anthropomorphic. Papadimitriou evokes collective horror, therefore implies humanity just as well. Menlibayeva powerfully depicts the position of her people; with Tengri, the ‘eternal blue sky’, but with a horizon punctuated with power pylons. Her native Kazakhstan is the location of both Tengrism and of the Soviet Gulags.
Bart De Baere & Katerina Koskina