The Land of The Confused - Notes of a Witness

22 May 2021
Public spaces in Cureghem &
Komplot, Square Albert 1er, 13, 1070 Anderlecht, Brussels

EN: On the 22nd of May 2021, The Land of The Confused arises for one day in Cureghem. ‘Notes of a Witness’ invites visitors to wander through the public space surrounding Komplot and encounter different artistic interventions. For this occasion, the inhabitants of The Land explored the possibilities of making and showing art in interaction with the public space and local partners, while aiming for a harmonious coincidence between everyday life and artistic encounters.

NL: Op 22 mei 2021 verrijst The Land of The Confused voor één dag in Cureghem. ‘Notes of a Witness’ nodigt bezoekers uit om door de openbare ruimte rond Komplot te dwalen en hierbij verschillende artistieke interventies te ontmoeten. Voor deze gelegenheid verkenden de bewoners van Het Land de mogelijkheden om kunst te maken en tonen in interactie met de openbare ruimte en lokale partners, steeds zoekend naar een harmonieus samenvallen van het alledaagse leven en artistieke ontmoetingen.

FR: Le 22 mai 2021, The Land of The Confused reviendra pour une journée à Cureghem. “Notes of a Witness " invite les visiteur.se.s à se promener dans l'espace public autour de Komplot et à explorer les différentes interventions artistiques. Pour cette occasion, les habitant.e.s du Land ont exploré les possibilités de faire et de montrer l'art en relation avec l'espace public et les partenaires locaux, tout en visant une coïncidence harmonieuse entre la vie quotidienne et les rencontres artistiques.

ARTISTS: Chloé Arrouy, Elen Braga, Michiel Ceulers, Pommelien Koolen, Bert Jacobs, Flor Maesen, Paepens & Persyn
DESIGN: Sadrie Alves
PICTURES: Pauline Pastry and Flor Maesen
PICTURES STUDIO VISITS: Natalia Barczyńska

With the support of: Vlaamse Gemeenschap, Gemeente Anderlecht 1070, VGC
Local partners: Tictac Art Centre and Fondation du Memorial National Aux Martyrs Juifs de Belgique.

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Bert Jacobs is based in Brussels, Belgium where he dismantles the border between life and work. In between his so-called veritable artist projects and collaborations, Jacobs experiments with playful interventions inside his own house. A DIY sauna constructed in the attic and windows covered with colorful foil in geometrical shapes exemplifies the way Jacobs' artistic output infiltrates his everyday life. In much the same way his experiences as a theatre cook and hobbyist gardener find their way back into his more easily recognizable artistic output that often deals explicitly with the relation between humans and the space that surrounds them, particularly nature. His contribution to "The Land of the Confused" grew out of this observational stance towards everyday spaces. In a video work set in and dealing with car washes - of which Kuregem has plenty - Jacobs focuses on the visual experience of being completely trapped inside a fully automated machine. Through this installation with dreamlike dimensions, the artist tries to represent the sensual explosions and excitement of being subjected to this aesthetic brutality.
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Pommelien Koolen lives and works in Belgium. Her artistic practice focuses mainly on drawings that are easily manipulated and highly suggestive. She invented a new, unique language that creates stories with multiple narrative possibilities. The audience completes the story by deciphering meanings and putting together 'puzzles' according to their intuition
and choices. These stories are individualistic, impressionistic, and often surrealistic. Pommelien suggests ways to read them by, for example, arranging them in a self-publishing book she started several years ago. In her artistic practice, she also questions the dependencies of public and private places. How much can we afford in a common space, and when does our privacy become public? Currently, she is working on larger installations that allow her to deal with public spaces, where the work of art enters into a direct relationship with the environment, and the boundaries between the everyday area and art become erased.

One of her works for ‘The Land of the Confused’ project consists of ready-made umbrellas showing drawings that are silk-screened directly on the material. Other works are repetitive drawings of bricks on shrink film. The linear drawings become an integral part of the environment, by creating a modular installation adapted to space. Nevertheless, everything starts from the act of drawing which transcends the traditional medium as it enters the field of installation. The issue of public and private places is treated in a suggestive metaphor, by leaving empty, white spaces of the material on which she draws. This apparent emptiness she tries to fill in by the multiplication of objects.
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Sadrie Alves is a Belgian Brazilian artist living in Brussels. Most of her artistic practice to date has been related to graphic design, but recently she has been creating site-specific installations and scenographies. Two major pillars of Alves' artistic practice are the experimental process of creation through mutual collaboration and the exploration of the materials at hand in all their ability to trans- and deform. Be it in the portrayal of human forms worked out with traditional drawing techniques and later on digitized or the performative actions using turmeric that particularly pay attention to its edibility and healing properties for mental well-being and the symbolism of its instinctive color, the working matter is always alive, changing and processing. It resembles the materiality of earth, constantly adapting to space. Taking care of the visual identity of this manifestation of "The Land of the Confused", the vibrant colors of living nature shine through Alves' work, as do its forms shrouded in mystical mystery.
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Paepens & Persyn is an independent and artistic curatorial collective, founded by Koi Persyn and Jonathan Paepens whose motto could be: ‘fun but not funny’; because even though the creative process may be fun, the goal is never to end up with merely ‘funny’ art. Their projects are at the same time manifestations of and criticism of art. But instead of merely criticizing the failures and lacks existing institutions P&P focuses on proposing alternatives.

Their work is linked to the institutional critique of the meta-thematic around art and addresses current world problems through focusing on the process, form, and multiple layers of a work of art as well as the spatial context in which it is placed. They propose unconventional exhibition spaces; like artist-run wine bottles or vehicles and alternative art texts. For them curating is intertwined with being an artist and the goal is the same. That is why in their works as a duo, the dichotomy between curator and artist is blurred.

For Notes of a Witness, P&P is organizing an exhibition inside the exhibition, with the same participants as the main event. They will turn their personal car into an exhibition space where each participant proposes an intervention. During their art walk, the audience is invited into a private space in the public realm, as such making the car a semi-public zone.
Another element of their work is the announcement and promotion of each artist on custom-made banners in a way reminiscent of advertising. The design of each banner is based on the conversations P&P had during studio visits with the artists.
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Elen Braga is a Brazilian artist living in Belgium. Her first visual artwork was a performance in which she painted her entire body pink. Since then she has come a long way as a multidisciplinary visual artist in the fields of installation, sculpture, and public space. Her large-scale installations often accompany a performative aspect connected to the use of her own image. She challenges herself to work with new materials and techniques; sewing, ceramics, metal. Most of the time, her work is strongly concerned with the contexts of the places in which it is presented - historically, politically, culturally, and socially. At the same time, she plays with the paradoxes of materiality, trying to use different materials than those used in everyday life. The traditional Belgian stitch as a metal crown or a carpet as a monumental vertical installation flag in a public space.

An important element of her works is researching the origin of the object she works on. Her installation for ‘The Land of the Confused’, is based on the form of a carousel. Today we associate this object with entertainment, especially for children, but it was originally used as a cavalry training mechanism that prepared riders for battle when they aimed their swords at their opponents. On the outside of the carousel, the artist placed a textile with an illustration of horses running over people lying down. In this context, Braga connects the object's history to contemporary political events, protests, and demonstrations, questioning the phenomenon of power. Her work is based on her observation of current world situations, which are filtered through her reflections and thoughts about the impact of these activities on the public common space.
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Michiel Ceulers is a Belgian artist and co-organizer of Notes of a Witness. He has a background in abstract painting but has always playfully subverted its presumed pretentiousness by using non-traditional materials instead of the clichéd and self-serious canvasses, turning his images into objects by using the discarded fragments of the city life he encounters on the street. Michiel gives them a new being, the beginning of a new story. His artistic practice revolves around experimentation with an emphasis on the process and the mixing together of disparate media and materials. There is a strong sense of the accidental and coincidental in his work that results from the seemingly chaotic environment of his atelier in which the unforeseen is always welcomed to leave its traces.
During the first lockdown, while working on a forthcoming catalog, Ceulers started painting birds, especially canaries, again; something he had not done since his time at the academy. During his research, he found out birds stop singing when a blanket is pulled over their cage and this, in combination with the proverbial canary in a coalmine, invigorated these birds with a renewed sense of metaphorical urgency especially as juxtaposed with the formalistic approach to language that had never disappeared from his paintings. He is fascinated by concrete poetry and certainly, these inspirations are visible in his works. The phenomenon of language is a medium that he can take up for deconstruction and manipulation. During 'Notes of a Witness' Ceulers wants to experiment more with the performative aspects of language in the public sphere through the actions entitled The Gilbert Gilbert George George and Para baiar la Bamba.
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Chloé Arrouy is a french artist based in Belgium. Her artistic practice was mainly associated with abstract painting or matter painting, which go beyond the definitions of the tradition of this medium. Gradually, her painting took on more performative forms until she finally decided to come out with her work on steel and increasingly larger objects. In her practice, she focuses on the meaning of mystical symbols by highlighting their paradoxes - how their understanding changes depending on the perspective and context in which they are perceived. Wizard aura, symbols of Celts, and witches bring to mind mystical rituals which Chloé Arrouy disenchants through her art.
The symbols in her work are a kind of material spaces between sacrum and profanum, between material and spiritual. Chloé plays with dualism in each detail, which looks lovely and dangerous at the same time. There is something in her work from sadomasochistic urges and torture tools - like a too-small chair that looks so adorable but it could be treacherous when you try to touch it. Her project for Komplot is a swing - where important is a haptic issue in direct contact with the object - the human body refills the usable object and makes it complete. It is also a political manifesto concerning the problem of the lack of playgrounds for children in the neighborhood of Cureghem. Therefore Chloé proposes placement in the public space, a magical object, shining in the sun, like a gate between different dimensions.
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Flor Maesen is co-organizing this manifestation of ‘The Land of The Confused’. In this land, he calls himself 'lost'. In his artistic practice, he questions the human purpose and being. His painted images depict anonymous people in a natural desolate landscape. Inhabitants of the universe in a utopian land without the influence of modern civilization, borders, prejudices, and differences. Flor Maesen touches on religious motives while staying devoid of pathos. His images echo something mystical and ritualistic.

Collectivity and sharing experiences are important for him, therefore he tries to create moments of co-creation in the public space. To do so, he organizes meetings in the early morning to await the rise of the sun. Through actions such as these, he seeks answers to questions that trouble him as a human. He is constantly searching, testing, and focusing on working together to get the most out of others and to give of himself. For ‘Notes of A Witness’, he combines painted images in public space with a video work on sunrises, in a spontaneous collaboration with Elen Braga.

texts: Natalia Barczyńska