About Generation Brussels
Since 2018, Brussels Gallery Weekend and its galleries support the young Brussels artists by hosting the show “Generation Brussels”.
Organized by a different curator each year, the exhibition aims at highlighting young Brussels artists who have not yet been called by galleries.
Generation Brussels brings together a range of artists living and working in Brussels, whether they are art school students, recent graduates, aspiring artists or those with a little more experience.
For 2021, we have chosen to collaborate with Belgian Curators Dagmar Dirkx and Zeynep Kubat. They collaborated with the artists on a transdisciplinary exhibition, articulating different themes such as identity, gender, or our relationship to space and the environment, under the gaze of a new generation of Brussels artists.
Generation Brussels Artists – 2021
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Curator – 2021
Dagmar Dirkx & Zeynep Kubat
If the world would shut up
Even for a while
We would start hearing
The distant rhythm
Of an angry young tune –
And recompose ourselves
Having deconstructed everything
We should be thinking about
Putting everything back together
(Savages – ‘Shut up’- clip version)
How do you capture the spirit of a young generation of artists without falling prey to deadpan phrases like ‘new’, ‘fresh’ or ‘unprecedented’ as the only parameters to go by? While the word ‘avant-garde’ is gradually passing its expiry date, this group of young artists realize that it is not so much about a brand new story. They deconstruct familiar narratives and use forgotten practices, deliberately ignored heroes and lost histories as the building bricks for their new mythologies.
As we were all ‘grounded’ at home last year, these times have put a magnifying glass on the ways in which we arrange the spaces around us. “The space is alive and has something to say. It asks you to connect, to get grounded,” says artist Günbike Erdemir. We can no longer be careless with our living environment: instead, these artists invite us to take out our magnifying glass and get closer to the ground. Their works ask us to sit down, to touch and reconsider our surroundings. To listen, to question the given functions of the objects that inhabit these spaces.
The spaces we occupy also give shape to our rituals. Digital apps like Co-Star or Sleep Cycle enter our lives and tell us how to live. These instructions are worth analysing: where do they support the perpetuation of existing, and perhaps outdated, systems of control? The artists of Generation Brussels reformulate the rules of the game (and those of the art world) that are imposed on us. Some refer to the linguistic formulas of control and surveillance, while other artists create their own (visual) semantics to grasp control over their understanding of the society we have to live in.
Kae Tempest writes in On Connection: ‘The problem with reflection is that before looking in the mirror, we compose ourselves. (…) Before the furtive glance into the dark glass of a parked car or shop window, we have already made the face or taken the posture that we like to see.’ Just like Tempest, this group of artists realizes a mirror won’t do for constructing our identities. Instead, identities can be found in an old box with letters to our family, in a community of queer people that take care of each other, or in stories and artefacts of our ancestors. Gender, cultural and social background, class, sexual orientation, age, religion are all part of a beautiful and complex mirror palace. However, to come back to Tempest: ‘(…) beneath our direct lived experiences – beneath our unique cultures and identities – there is commonality, and I believe that this is something we can all access through creativity.’
Yet, no medium is infallible. Perfectionism in a singular craft makes room for art practices that grab a taste of various media. Photography meets textile, video ping-pongs with sculpture, painting is part of an installation, audio meets performance. Glitches are at all times embraced: they are precisely those interesting indications of a failing system that enable us to question the dominant technologies and systems. And perhaps the biggest system failure is that of a binary way of life, in which divisions such as ‘nature-culture’/’human-object’/man-woman/’artist-curator/’ stand in our way the most.
The transdisciplinary attitude of this group of artists is typical of the open, flexible attitude that they adopt towards the art world: the myth of the individual, brilliant artist may finally be shattered; connection and exchange are the keywords that should characterise the art world. Only together, in dialogue and togetherness, do we find the way to the healing of a broken, jaded world. Slowly, we are putting ourselves back together.
Dagmar Dirkx & Zeynep Kubat
in Previous Years
Curated by Dagmar Dirkx & Zeynep Kubat
Curated by Evelyn Simons
Curated by Tenzing Barshee
Curated by Louis-Philippe Van Eeckhoutte