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"Cloistered Worlds, Open Books: Medieval Manuscripts in Dialogue with Contemporary Art"
2002-08-16 until 2002-11-17
Brugge 2002 - Episcopal Seminary
Brugge, , BE Belgium

Not an exhibition of neatly hung works, but a world in its own right into which visitors are allowed to stray. A world where the site of a monumental abbey, its magnificent medieval book collection and contemporary art come together organically. A world in which things are important not only as aesthetic objects, but also because of the insight they provide into medieval and contemporary man's understanding of himself and the world.

The location alone - not a framework, but an integral part of the exhibition concept - makes a visit to 'Cloistered world, open books' a unique event. On the edge of Bruges city centre stands a former abbey built by the Cistercian monks of Ten Duinen ('the Dunes') in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and large enough to compete with any in Europe. At the time a leading intellectual centre, now a seminary for priests, consisting of a building with a monumental church, gardens, large and small rooms, known collectively as the Grootseminarie or Episcopal Seminary.

In addition to its own art collection, the Episcopal Seminary is also exhibiting a hundred unique Cistercian manuscripts from its medieval library and those of its edifications Clairmarais (near St-Omer) and Ter Doest. The manuscripts are still in pristine condition, and - what is nothing short of remarkable - after all those years they have remained as a collection in Bruges (in the abbey archive and in the public library). Besides illustrating the inspiration of medieval artists, the richly illuminated works also tell us a great deal about intellectual development in the West during the course of the Middle Ages. As well as manuscripts made in the abbey itself, there are also examples from commercial ateliers in Paris, from the Italian university milieu and from other leading, fifteenth-century manuscript centres.

The universal questions of that time, about the world and everyone's place in it, are still widely debated today. Curator Laurent Busine asked Jose Maria Sicilia, David Claerbout, Giuseppe Penone, Ettore Spalletti, Michel Frère and Shirin Neshat to formulate their answers. The artists chose a spot inside (or outside) the cloister wall and each in his particular discipline is developing a work that integrates with the surroundings. Christian Kieckens is responsible for the overall design of the concept.

The road leading to the location of 'Cloistered worlds, open books' - one of the three major exhibitions in the cultural year - is made additionally attractive for the more energetic visitor with Jan Broes' calligraphy trail and the Bruges Book City walk that takes in historical buildings including the Episcopal Seminary.

Coproduction with Bruges Municipal Library and the Musée des Arts Contemporains - Le Grand-Hornu With the cooperation of the Episcopal Seminary Bruges, the Province of West Flanders and the Municipal Museums Bruges Curator Laurent Busine, Scientific Adviser Ludo Vandamme, Scenographer Christian Kieckens Sponsors: Omob, Telindus, Bombardier

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