Don’t You Know Who I Am?

Don’t You Know Who I Am?

Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp (M HKA)

June 3, 2014

Don’t You Know Who I Am? Art After Identity Politics
13 June–14 September 2014

Forum: “Just Who Do You Think You Are?” 
14 June, 10am–6pm, at Cinema Zuid, 
Lakenstraat 14, 2000 Antwerp

M HKA – Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp
Leuvenstraat 32
2000 Antwerp

Offsite venue: 
Permeke Library
De Coninckplein 25–26
2600 Antwerp

Anthea Hamilton, Augustas Serapinas, Donna Kukama, Eloise Hawser, Ermias Kifleyesus, Guan Xiao, Haegue Yang, Hedwig Houben, Iman Issa, Imran Qureshi, Juha Pekka Matias Laakkonen, Katja Novitskova, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Liesbeth Doms, Maria Safronova, Maria Taniguchi, Massimo Grimaldi, Nadezhda Grishina, Nástio Mosquito, Oleg Ustinov, Onkar Kular & Noam Toran, Oscar Murillo, Patrizio Di Massimo, Pedro Barateiro, Pennacchio Argentato, Shilpa Gupta, Wu Tsang

Curated by Anders Kreuger and Nav Haq, M HKA

Don’t You Know Who I Am? Art After Identity Politics is a group exhibition at M HKA, the Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp, reflecting how emergent artists relate to issues of ‘identity politics’ today.

Don’t You Know Who I Am?” is a phrase we might expect to hear from celebrities being refused entry to a nightclub, or politicians trying to dissuade a policeman from giving them a parking ticket and expecting to get away with it because of who they are. In this case it also refers to the fact that many of the artists in the exhibition will be less well-known to a wider audience. This exhibition, on both main floors of the M HKA, is intended as a large-scale survey of the modes and means for considering identity and identification.

Various groups in society have, during recent decades, defined themselves along political, economic or social lines such as race, ethnicity, gender or sexuality in order to enhance their visibility and overcome marginalisation. After this established discourse of identity politics, often associated with the art of the 1980s, artists are once again considering notions of identity and what they mean in the contemporary world.

Having outgrown theoretical and visual modes that were too often focused on representations of the self or the body, and that more than anything expressed a desire for social visibility, artists today seem to be more interested in identities (in the plural) as part of an overall understanding of complexity—which the art system has not always been able or willing to accommodate.

New generations of artists interrogate the formation of identities in the world through strategies such as performativity, abstraction, thingness, the logic and aesthetics of the digital, activism, analysis of selfhood from cultural and scientific perspectives or addressing the role of the viewer. These strategies may not always reinforce each other, but artists have not accepted any ban on self-contradiction.

Visual art is still, at least in some ways, an avant-garde in relation to culture and society as a whole. Yet it remains a place for experimentation, and many artists, followed by curators and theoreticians, are asking themselves how they can achieve an ever more nuanced and relevant understanding of what identity means to individuals and their sense of self and how it can be articulated in creative practice. The exhibition will invite and even provoke different perspectives from the artists invited, as well as the audience and other participants in the project, such as writers for the publication or speakers for the forum.

Don’t You Know Who I Am? Art After Identity Politics is organised in partnership with AIR Antwerp, who are hosting residencies in Antwerp for participating artists. The project Someone Else by Shilpa Gupta is a site-specific installation presented at the Permeke Library, close to Antwerp Central Station. 

The exhibition is accompanied by an e-book published in English, Dutch and French versions, with contributions by Anders KreugerNav HaqNida Ghouse and Travis Jeppesen. It can be downloaded for free from the project’s microsite, to be launched in June.

The exhibition is also accompanied by a one-day forum on 14 June, titled “Just Who Do You Think You Are?,” with keynotes, talks, performances and screenings by artists in the exhibition and invited speakers. The participants include Donna Kukama, Hedwig Houben, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Merijn Oudenampsen, Nástio Mosquito, Pedro Barateiro, Timotheus Vermeulen and Travis Jeppesen. Their contributions will consider notions from “universality” and “populism,” to “selfhood,” “normality” and “difference,” all in relation to the “I word” of the exhibition subtitle. The forum is co-organised by CAHF (Contemporary Art Heritage Flanders) and held at Cinema Zuid, Antwerp.

M HKA is an initiative of the Flemish Community and supported by the City of Antwerp, the National Lottery, Klara,, H ART and Bank Degroof.

Don’t You Know Who I Am? Art After Identity Politics is organised by M HKA within the framework of “The Uses of Art,” a project by the European museum network L’Internationale. It proposes a space for art within a non-hierarchical and decentralised internationalism, based on the value of difference and horizontal exchange among a constellation of cultural agents, locally rooted and globally connected. L’Internationale comprises six major European museums: Moderna Galerija (MG, Ljubljana, Slovenia); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (MNCARS, Madrid, Spain); Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA, Barcelona, Spain); Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp (M HKA, Antwerp, Belgium); SALT (Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey) and Van Abbemuseum (VAM, Eindhoven, the Netherlands), as well as associate organisations from the academic and artistic fields.

The project is funded by the European Union’s Culture Programme for supporting this exhibition through L’Internationale. Funding is also contributed by the Evens Foundation in Antwerp, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon, the Embassy of Portugal in Brussels, Frame Visual Art Finland in Helsinki, the Lithuanian Cultural Council in Vilnius and the Mondriaan Fund in Amsterdam. 

We thank all our funders, our collaboration partners in Antwerp (AIR Antwerp, the Permeke Library and the Heritage Library Hendrik Conscience) and our coproduction partners CAC Vilnius in Vilnius, Galleria Zero in Milan, HISK (Hoger Instituut voor Schone Kunsten) in Ghent, Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler in Berlin, Kunsthalle Lissabon in Lisbon and the Wilkinson Gallery in London.

Don’t You Know Who I Am? at M HKA
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Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp (M HKA)
June 3, 2014

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