February 8, 2001 - NICC - T H E   B I G   S H O W 
February 8, 2001

T H E   B I G   S H O W 

NICC

the NICC is pleased to present 

T H E   B I G   S H O W 

a series of critical international exhibitions on globalization, running from April through November 2001 at its spaces in  Antwerp. 

Over the course of 2001, three highly demanding constellations, separated in time, will feature a critical platform for  approaching issues of exoticism, political correctness, collective memory and alterity, in a confronting way. 

In a climate of “cultural internationalism,” the ever more compelling confrontation with colonial history as a focal instance, but also the evolution from communism to post-communism, are challenging (Western) collective memory, in favor of a more neutral, so-called kaleidoscopic picture. 

T H E  B I G  S H O W takes a critical distance from an inclusive postmodernism, by focusing on how colonialist thought and action, and its memory, have nonetheless sustained a quite sentimental, exotic view on non-Western cultures, to the point of the current commodification of alterity, in an apologetic, “art-festival” atmosphere. 

T H E  B I G  S H O W is inevitably part of a climate of postcolonial cultural research, without fully identifying with it. Each exhibition will question the possibilities of subsuming a debate on cultural dialogue, to a process that outreaches the limits of political and cultural revisionist thinking.

Eventually the question will be raised to what extent the recent reversal of center-periphery thinking, can be considered to be part of a ‘mental’ decolonization, of institutions and public opinions; while art as a Western institution is being reproduced and reiterated on the basis of a model of cultural colonization, going in a limited amount of directions, and highly dependent upon the compromising preconditions of access to its networks and discourse.

P a r t   1 

A  M a n  o f  M e r c y 
A  C o n g o  C h r o n i c l e 

April 15th – June 3rd 2001 
NICC – New International Cultural Center, Antwerp 

T H E  B I G  S H O W will start with an exhibition of  Tshibumba Kanda-Matulu’s paintings on the political career of  P a t r i c e   E.  L u m u m b a  in the former Belgian colony Congo (“A Congo Chronicle”) over the crucial years of its newly won independence in 1960. 

Lumumba’s chronicle will be shown in Europe for the first time, together with W. Eugene Smiths 1954 photo essay on  D r.  A l b e r t  S c h w e i t z e r.

Albert Schweitzer had only some years before been awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace, as an undisputed hero of the positive qualities of a passive (post)colonial stronghold (“A Man of Mercy”). The ideologically reduced publication of Smith’s highly complex photo essay, by Life Magazine in 1954, was the direct reason for Smith to resign at Life as a photo reporter, the day after publication. 

The exhibition will start immediately after the announced conclusions of the Belgian Lumumba Commission, ending a one year revisionist research, into Belgium’s accessory role, in the assassination of Congo’s first Prime Minister Lumumba, in 1961. 

The B I G  S H O W is curated by Wim Peeters, and is organized in collaboration with the Museum for African Art, New York (A Congo Chronicle), and Jesus Fuenmayor and Julieta Gonzalez, Caracas (Demonstration Room: Ideal House.) 

More information will follow on: 

P a r t  2 

H e a l i n g 
June 24th  – September 2nd  2001 

P a r t  3 

D e m o n s t r a t i o n   R o o m: Ideal House 
September 23rd  -  November 25th  2001 

NICC , New International Cultural Center, Antwerp
32 3 216 07 71, nicc@thepentagon.com 
contact: Win Van den Abbeele

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