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Indepth Arts News:

"Monopolis – Antwerp"
2005-09-11 until 0000-00-00
Witte de With Center for Contemportary Art
Rotterdam, , NL

Witte de With, center for contemporary art, presents the exhibition Monopolis – Antwerp from September 10 through November 6, 2005. Antwerp and Rotterdam are both port cities, in a manner of speaking within walking distance of each other, sharing the same language and a social and political context that displays close similarities. That context imposes increasingly exacting demands on the production and presentation of culture. Should culture pay due attention to the multiethnicity and multiformity of society, or should it primarily affirm the historic and the local? What place might artistic offerings have in a society that with regard to essential points continues to be a unitary whole, even though we always perceive it as having crumbled, as existing in fragments, and this also being how we usually think about it.

The exhibition Monopolis – Antwerp strives first and foremost to demonstrate artistic engagement. Works of art have a right to be ambiguous and to remain open to a diversity of interpretations. Dissension deserves a place alongside consensus. An even greater number of seats for the popular Vlaams Belang party (“Flemish Interest,” which strives for Flemish independence and campaigns on an anti-immigration platform) at the next municipal elections might not mean an immediate bombshell, but it could signal the final curtain for that shared, communal space in Antwerp.

Monopolis – Antwerp is the work of three organizations – MuHKA, Extra City, and objectif exhibitions – which, in collaboration with Witte de With, want to show how dialogue and exchange are the fountainhead of an artistic project that is simultaneously socially engaged. The exhibition is a case study about art and the ways in which it offers an embedding in the social fabric. Though the exhibition presents work by many of Antwerp’s prominent artists, it is not the intention to provide a representative overview of all the developments, nor is it the intention to provide direct commentary on the political situation there. The exhibition’s curators were intent on presenting a broad spectrum of work and the varying alliances within it, which sometimes highlights new possibilities and at other times lays bare limitations.

The exhibition is complemented by hundred posters in the city, which sketch a profile of the city by means of moments from the twentieth century. This dynamic picture of Antwerp is the initial impetus for the exhibition.

The exhibition presents work by: Francis Alÿs, Carla Arocha, Charif Benhelima, Fred Bervoets, Guillaume Bijl, Building Transmissions, David Claerbout, Club Moral, Vaast Colson, Jef Cornelis, Cel Crabeels/Anne Daems/Jan Kempenaers, Els Dietvorst, Niels Donckers, Bruna Hautman, Jozef Legrand, Corey McCorkle, Guy Mees, Vanessa Van Obberghen, Ria Pacquée, Gert Robijns, Narcisse Tordoir, Luc Tuymans and Jörgen Voordeckers.

A free magazine is being published to accompany the project, with texts by a.o. Geert Buelens, Vivian Liska, Ramsey Nasr and Jeroen Olyslagers.

Guillaume Bijl
Inter-phone center
Kabinett für Aktuelle Kunst, Bremerhaven, 2001
photo: Guillaume Bijl

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