Le Charge

Le Charge

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This exhibition, situated both in the cellar and outside the Maison des Arts de Schaerbeek, invites visitors to ponder the concepts of geography, movement, and wandering through a diverse array of artistic offerings.

Moving freely from one point to another, devoid of any prescribed order or perspective, visitors are prompted to contemplate the spaces and reflect on the fragile, tangible, and intricate connections that bind us to them. From exploring topography to delving into cartography and our individual geographies, the exhibition prompts us to consider how we transform mere places into territories and spaces into passages. It challenges us to contemplate how we inhabit and represent the world, and how we comprehend its evolution. Here, amidst these utopian and ethereal forms, one can navigate through the exhibition adrift in thought.

The "From Anywhere to Anywhere" exhibition plays upon our movements, both within the physical confines of the exhibition space and metaphorically, within the broader world and its constituent places. Held in the cellar and garden—two peripheral spaces in relation to the central body of the house—it subtly engages with the Maison des Arts de Schaerbeek's historical backdrop. These cellars, formerly the kitchens of the Maison des Arts, still bear traces of their past, evident in the flooring and walls that retain remnants of old partitions.

Today, undergoing a new phase of transformation, the cellar is adorned with elements salvaged from the former stables, repurposed as storage for the Maison des Arts. These spaces, once divided into various storage areas and food preparation zones bustling with activity, remain shrouded in the shadows of the imposing house above. The kitchen, an unseen yet active space where hands and bodies once toiled, now serves as the backdrop for an exhibition constructed in harmony with its surroundings, guided by the inherent qualities of the space and the available artworks.

These cellars have been repurposed as reception areas, complete with a bar and cloakroom, reflecting the Maison des Arts' new spatial arrangements and functions. "From Anywhere to Anywhere" marks the inaugural exhibition in this unconventional space. Departing from the conventional "white cube," the artworks engage in a dialogue with the space, embracing its inherent character rather than obliterating it. The artists, cognizant of this dynamic, creatively engage with the space, leveraging its features while maintaining its integrity, resulting in a symbiotic relationship between art and space.

The exhibition offers two potential entrances and exits, one directly accessible from the exterior courtyard, linking seamlessly with the garden, while the other is located in the entrance hall of the house. Additionally, the exhibition extends into the garden of the Maison des Arts, featuring a flag crafted by Driton Selmani titled "The Charge." This flag depicts the drawing of an ear and a fly, symbolizing an Albanian proverb reflecting discomfort when confronted with the enunciation of truth. Selmani has previously utilized this flag as a means of expressing collective identity during public space performances in Kosovo.

Upon selecting one of the two entrances, visitors embark on a unique journey through the exhibition, with no predetermined path dictated by the title "From Anywhere to Anywhere." Embracing a rhizomic concept of map and space, and the relationships between objects and subjects, the exhibition intentionally eschews boundaries and coordinated movement. Artworks and artists alike resonate and extend across multiple rooms and corridors.

For instance, Julie Deutsch Boussaye's photography captures indigenous people naturally indicating borders through the planting of specific plants in the Negev desert. Amélie Gomet’s sculpture, "Topography of a Piece of Sea," floats in space, employing topographic codes to reflect the perpetual movement of relief and natural borders. Meanwhile, Driton Selmani's video, "Utopia, the Place That Doesn't Exist," filmed in 2009 after the UN's proclamation of Kosovo's independence, probes the notions of borders and utopia, questioning the efficacy of drawing borders in creating a state and the utopian nature of national independence.

Wiktoria Synak's work juxtaposes the cities of Antwerp (Belgium) and Gostynin (Poland), collapsing geographical distances and exploring the definition of home through personal and collective perspectives. Floriane Lbty, through her photography of urban facades worldwide, challenges the concept of collective "home." Accompanied by precise location data and presented in six editions, her work invites viewers to reflect on urban and social environments. Seating arrangements in the exhibition facilitate reflection and dialogue, offering a malleable platform for interaction and exchange of ideas.

The title of the exhibition, "From Anywhere to Anywhere," is a quote taken from a text by Nam June Paik published in the New York magazine Radical Software, which was founded by a group of artists and activists dedicated to video as a new artistic and political medium. This magazine is considered by art historians as the breeding ground from which video art emerged in the early 1970s, featuring contributions from figures like Richard Buckminster Fuller (architect and inventor of the geodesic dome) and Nam June Paik himself.

In the inaugural issue of the journal in 1970, the South Korean artist wrote the article "Expanded Education for a Paperless Society," where he mapped the history of music and discussed the conceptual and critical implications linked to the use of video. He proposed a concept of “video mailing” (akin to our current MOOCs), which would enable musicians to give or receive lessons remotely, from anywhere to anywhere. For Nam June Paik, video offered a new horizon in both disseminating information and conceiving the world, especially during a period of shifting global polarities, postcolonial demands, and the second feminist wave, all of which profoundly impacted the art world.

This attention to video in the exhibition, as well as video-performance, and the interest in broadcasting through both video projection and cathode ray TV screens, reflects Paik's vision of video as a medium for horizontal dissemination of information and conception of the world.

However, with the advent of the Internet, the image of the world has evolved toward a new form of standardization, notably visible through platforms like Google Maps. The exhibition aims to confront this representation of the world, oriented by the “bird view” and “street view” visions imposed by tech giants like Google. This critical engagement is evident in Naïmé Perrette's video/installation, "Devouring Cartography v.2."

The exhibition presents new ways of representing the world and exploring it through artistic mediums. Works like Julie Deutsch's "Experience #1" and Amélie Gomet's "When Spaces Embrace" and "Readings of Views" demonstrate a rediscovery of place and a reactivation of memories through image harvesting and landscape exploration.

Designed without a center or periphery, the exhibition challenges preconceived notions and presents works where creation is not guided solely by aesthetics but by a profound understanding of the world and the need to translate it. These works are born from a rediscovery of our place in the world.

The exhibition document, in the form of an unfolding card, echoes this desire to avoid fixed discourse or oriented interpretation. Instead, it opts for the absence of constructed sentences, allowing words to form a map where possible links are constantly woven. This non-exhaustive lexical set is presented as a rhizomatic map, reflecting questions about our origins, our trajectory, our relationship with space, and our potential to transform the world.

Ultimately, our relationship with the world mirrors our relationship with others, prompting us to observe and question it.

Text: Dounia Mojahid

Driton Selmani — Le Charge, 2016
Dimensions: 400 x 300 cm
Installation view: Maison des Arts, Brussels
Curated by: Dounia Mojahid
Images: Mehdi Mojahid, Courtesy The Artist ©