This Is Us

This Is Us

Z33 House for Contemporary Art, Design and Architecture

October 3, 2023
This Is Us
With the collections of M HKA, S.M.A.K., Mu.ZEE and M Leuven
October 1, 2023–February 18, 2024
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Z33 House for Contemporary Art, Design and Architecture
Bonnefantenstraat 1
3500 Hasselt
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This Is Us combines works from the four largest museum collections of contemporary art in Flanders: M HKA, S.M.A.K., Mu.ZEE and M Leuven. Guest curator Fabian Flückiger sees these art collections as seismographs of the times the works were made in, with potential for re-evaluation with each presentation. In This Is Us, Flückiger seeks to reflect on the role of collections in shaping narratives of representation within and outside of the art institution. 

This Is Us includes the work of fifty artists and unfolds over three chapters: The Art Institution, Living Spaces, and Telling Stories. These chapters explore the art institution from various perspectives, questioning power dynamics and issues of representation in art. They also address our current biological and social environments and encourage us to think about how history influences our perception of art and the world at large. Works from four collections are punctuated by artist commissions, which deepen the dialogue between the present and the past. Museum collections are a public resource and a perspective on the history of art, they encompass the attitude and personality of the institution, but are they also reflection of us? This Is Us invites this reappraisal, in which perspectives can be questioned and shifted, sharpened and aligned. This exhibition emerges from a unique collaboration between Flanders’ leading museums for contemporary art, Z33, the commissioned artists, and the public at large. 

The first chapter—The Art Institution—touches on the history of the art institution as an inclusive entity. More than 130 years ago, an early attempt was made at creating more ‘inclusive’ art institutions. During his 1889 lecture ‘The Museums of the Future’ at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, George Brown Goode proposed targeting women as a specific group of museum visitors, although it would take many decades for works by female artists to be adequately represented in museums. Since the end of the nineteenth century, the art institution has undergone a continuous evolution that has been often linked with the struggle for equality and social justice in wider society – a process that has gained considerable traction in recent years. The artworks in this chapter explore the art institution as a political space and a social platform, where new forms of representation can emerge, reflecting a society in constant motion. 

The second chapter—Living Spaces—continues the theme of representation, exploring it through the lens of organisms and their habitats. Here art and life merge. Within this chapter there is a tension between nature and culture and the spaces they occupy. Different organisms meet in natural and artificial environments, each vulnerable in its own way. Bodies in Living Spaces are shaped and transformed by these encounters and environments: automated, hybridised, exploited, categorised, threatened or simply empowered by different forces. This increases the need to reflect on the balance and codependence of climate, biodiversity and an equitable democratic society.

The third chapter—Telling Stories—looks at the shaping and construction of societal narratives. How does the media, artificial intelligence or history-writing shape our perceptions and understandings of the world, and in turn influence the reality of our lives? In addition to media narratives, this chapter focuses on historical events of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and their impact on art discourse. From what extent does our (re)engagement with history influence our aesthetic judgements? A window connecting the third chapter to the first clarifies the coherence of the three chapters as a reflection on the institutional collection and display of art.

The exhibition includes works by Richard Artschwager, John Baldessari, Sammy Baloji, Dara Birnbaum, Audrey Cottin, Anne Daems, N. Dash, Robert Devriendt, Marlene Dumas, Mona Filleul, Andrea Fraser, Joris Ghekiere, Karin Hanssen, Ann Veronica Janssens, Jean Katambayi Mukendi, Felix Kindermann, Aglaia Konrad, Wolfgang Laib, Konrad Lueg, Natasja Mabesoone, Dyan Marie, Kerry James Marshall, Hana Miletić, Bruce Nauman, Otobong Nkanga, Cady Noland, Clare Noonan, Sophie Nys, Willem Oorebeek, Meret Oppenheim, Ria Pacquée, Marina Pinsky, Avery Preesman, Emmanuelle Quertain, Peter Rogiers, Jura Shust, Monika Stricker, Ana Torfs, Keith Tyson, Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven, Michael Van den Abeele, Emmanuel Van der Auwera, Jan Van de Kerckhove, Maarten Vanden Eynde, Anna Zacharoff and Heimo Zobernig.

Fabian Flückiger is a curator and lecturer based in Bern and Brussels. After various institutional positions (Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern; Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain, Geneva; Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen; Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein), he has been working as a freelance curator since 2021. He has realised exhibitions and publications on Nora Turato (2019), Steven Parrino (2020), Miriam Laura Leonardi (2021), Manon de Boer (2022), and ektor garcia (2022), among others.

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Z33 House for Contemporary Art, Design and Architecture
October 3, 2023

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