WIELS Senior Curator Zoë Gray on the 8 Strongest Works at Art Brussels
Zoë Gray is senior curator at WIELS Contemporary Art Centre in Brussels. She recently curated PLAY TIME, the 2015 Rennes contemporary art biennale, and was previously a curator at Witte de With in Rotterdam. She has contributed to many artists’ publications and is a member of IKT (International Association of Curators of Contemporary Art).
Jay Tan’s studio stood out amongst the slick presentations at last year’s Rijksakademie Open Ateliers, as a real working space inhabited by intriguing works made in plasticine and linoleum. The works were accompanied by a found video of young female rappers nonchalantly constructing biting rhymes while checking their iPhones. Tan is an artist who is not afraid to mix media in her playful practice.
Peggy Franck, Reintroducing the familiar, 2014, at Stigter Van Doesburg
This multilayered work shifts between installation and painting with insightful and engaging results.
Robert Filliou, Toolbox n°1, 1968, at Richard Saltoun
It is exciting to see a piece by one of my artistic heroes, Robert Filliou, who was one of the inspirations behind PLAY TIME (my edition of the Rennes biennale last year), and who will apparently be the subject of a major retrospective at M HKA next year. His explorations of the intersections between work and play and between artwork and game, are highly topical in today’s work-oriented society.
Eleni Kamma, 18/06/2013, Liberty –Time (Hürriyet- Zaman) - Actuality Kilims - Actualités Kilims, 2015, at Nadja Vilenne
Eleni Kamma’s recent project exploring the history of satirical shadow puppet theatre draws upon archival imagery, interviews with puppeteers, and her own footage and experience of the recent protests in Gezi Park. The project can be seen in its entirety at Netwerk in Aalst beginning this Sunday.
Tobias Zielony, Brokenhead, 2009–2011, at KOW
Tobias Zielony’s portraits of marginalised groups—which have previously depicted young male prostitutes or inhabitants of Naples’s most infamous housing projects—manage to balance intimacy with his subjects and a critical distance.
Renzo Martens, Self Portrait without Clothes / Mubuku Kipala, at KOW
This piece is part of Renzo Martens’s contentious project, [in which 3D prints were used to cast chocolate replicas of sculptural self-portraits made by Congolese cocoa plantation workers]. The work raises pressing—and painful—questions about the post-colonial condition.
Erika Hock, untitled, 2014, at COSAR HMT
Erika Hock will feature in my first exhibition at WIELS: “Un-Scene III” (30 May–9 August, 2015). This exciting young German artist was a resident at HISK in Ghent before moving to Brussels. Her work is located at the crossroads between art, design, and architecture, and is always infused with humour.
Mekhitar Garabedian, fig. a, a comme alphabet (2-6 April 2014), 2009, at Albert Baronian
These are critically engaged, poetic, and insightful pieces by a Ghent-based artist whose work will also be in the Republic of Armenia’s Pavilion at the Venice Biennale this summer.