zondag 29 april 2018

Liègoise Contemporary past

Finally got around to visit Liège again, after meaning to for a while but keeping on putting it off, which is strange, because I like the place and used to go on a regular basis... but time flows by like the Meuse and we don’t even recognize each other any more – as was the case in the first gallery I popped into ‘Les Drapiers’ – I had non-participated in a show there not so long ago – run by a former Tapisserie-Fondation tutor, but too long ago – the show by Jean-Pierre Husquinet (au bout du fil) was intriguing, but not really down my alley (anymore)
The show of archives and stuff from the Cirque Divers on the other hand was very much worth it. I was happy to have still been able to see it, since it was in fact the last day...

Remembering the Cirque Divers as a kindred place back in the eighties, where all artistic would mingle after cultural activities deep into the night, where shows by wonderful and special artists took place and where performance as a medium came into it’s own in the nether (-landish) regions of France, Germany and Belgium... Filliou was a major contributor, Ben a regular haunt as well as many others – Orlan, Carolee Schneemann, a whole section femministe of the first hour – speaking of holes: nice find, especially for the director of the Royal Navel Observatory: a suite of famous belly buttons...

Had to remember also that I turned down Antaki’s attempt to do this kind of show in Antwerp because of the probable impossibility to find funding at that time... it would have fit the factor 44 brief, but his proposal was a complete re-building/enactment of the place, and that was perhaps a bridge too far for our operation at the time...

Le Jardin du Paradoxe
Now though, in this sumptuous space of the Ville de Liège, a baroque church, it all came into it’s own in another way, not trying to recapture but to make it’s presence felt in a former adversarial space: scatology in church... great stuff. The archival approach also better than trying to capture the atmosphere... it’s forever gone in these neo-alt-right times... one can hardly imagine the contrast if one didn’t experience it oneself: all the more reason to keep & illustrate it for future generations now growing up under the weight of fake control... Anyway, it seems the City of Liège has acquired the archives of the Cirque Divers from the asbl d’un certain gaité, thus saving it for posterity... which is really good – often with this kind of archive it gets shunted around until it falls apart, and no-one sees it’s value until too late... here it seems to still be a coherent whole, and will be preserved. I must admit I did not buy the catalog due to lack of funds, but I sure will as I am able, since it’s certainly worth it...

I enjoyed the many exhibits spanning quite a bit of the latter twentieth: a nice and representative mix of what people were busy with – things we now take for granted, the advent of the image based communication, video, repro allsorts mail art networking in permanent creations, femenist and gender aspects, freedom of expression and where possible frontiers lie, as well as just plain nostalgic tit-bits of art-for-art next to engaged and enraged work from activists known and unknown... that strange and fragile symbiosis of university student working class steel mill... and lots of drink, obviously.
Very enjoyable and educative show free for all must-see... to my mind, and a good reality-check with our contemporary situation in mind:

Contemporary is already past... Thinking it was a work ( and still not sure ) I entered the three-house gallery space where ‘Collection’ was taking place – a show of work collected by Catharina Helsmoortel and Jean Marie Rikkers... with quite a few artists that I knew, and so had to go look... but admittedly decided to do a hit & run since I had already been driving all day & didn’t want to stay Dieter Roth hiding under the stairs, 

the aforementioned Angeli with small but intriguing works – a wall of Francis Schmetz looking thundery dark... Monsieur’s Delmotte behind the 
counter, process works one does not catch the first time – a sympathetic collection to endear everyone, and we were well met with lashings of wine and crunchy tidbits all over the show... small but enjoyable showcase exhibition.

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