A jury commissioned by the Department of Culture, Youth and Media selected curator Hilde Teerlinck and artist Francis Alÿs to represent Flanders in the Belgian pavilion at the Venice Biennale for visual arts in 2022.
The jury consisted of Frank Benijts, Hicham Khalidi, Zeynep Kubat, Jozefien Van Beek and Sofie Van de Velde. Dirk De Wit moderated the deliberations and Stan Van Pelt acted as secretary. Because two members of the jury from the first round of selection, Devrim Bayar and Els Wuyts, each had professional ties with one of the candidates, they decided in consultation with the department to withdraw from the further course of the judging.
On 28 February 2020, the jury had selected six curators who developed a proposal within the following criteria: a strong substantive concept that contributes to the international arts, that is layered and readable, and that is relevant as a contribution to the Belgian pavilion.
The five other proposals were submitted by:
- Heidi Ballet and Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker
- Till-Holger Borchert and Michel Dewilde with An Demeester and Jan De Cock
- Enough Room for Space (BE) with Picha (DRC) and Alexis Destoop, Marjolijn Dijkman, Pélagie Gbaguidi, Femke Herregraven, Jean Katambayi Mukendi, Dorine Mokha, Musasa, Georges Senga, Maarten Vanden Eynde.
- Zoë Gray and Kasper Bosmans
- Christophe Slagmuylder and Sarah Vanhee
Do we live because we narrate?
Do We Live Because We Narrate?, developed by Hilde Teerlinck and Francis Alÿs for the Belgian Pavilion will question the role of the artist and the relevance of art in situations of conflict and crisis.
“It is not a case of war journalism, but a chronicle of the tactics of living developed when the systems –social/economic/governmental/you name it – are not operative anymore, circumstances where you find a moment of creation, of need and of tension. It is a chronicle of the way in which people develop strategies of survival in and after a situation of conflict.”Francis Alÿs, Beirut, March 2009
Over the past several decades, Francis Alÿs has worked in various areas of conflict in locations and border areas including Mexico, Peru, Israel, Palestine, Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan—gathering ideas, observations and images and recording them through notes and sketches in small notebooks and plein air impressions on small canvasses.
Through his distinct poetic sensibility, Alÿs postulates an essential question: what is the role of the artist and the relevance of art in situations of conflict and crisis? Voluntarily being a first-hand witness in areas of political tension and violence has allowed him to have an insight into the daily lives of people in these circumstances, while resonating more broadly with the historical role of artists as a conduit of such information to a larger public.
Alÿs’ oeuvre is characterised by its integrity and respect for the communities and people invited to participate in his projects, with whom he develops close working relationships. For instance, by turning the uncertainty his collaborators face each day into children’s games, his projects attempt to transcend their participants’ struggle for survival and offer a different angle from which to read their reality.
Alÿs brings no judgement but rather an open eye and a universal connection to all, regardless of race, age, gender and class. Searching for those chance moments that balance at a point between the banal, everyday life and a deeper consciousness of existence, these experiences become crystallised visually within his work: he was selected specifically for the unique artistic language that he uses to communicate such experiences.
Do We Live Because We Narrate? will explore specifically the question of if and how art has a place and where it can operate within such extreme circumstances, questioning and evoking the compelling role of the artist to reveal the invisible and the inexpressible. The presentation will be a tale of hope.
Francis Alÿs was born in 1959 in Antwerp and has lived in Mexico City since 1986. Hilde Teerlinck was born in 1966 in Bruges, and today lives and works in Barcelona where she is the Director of the Han Nefkens Foundation.
Contact Stan Van Pelt (Department of Culture, Youth and Media) via firstname.lastname@example.org or +32 2 553 68 98.