For its big comeback exhibition, Wiels brings together 38 artists, well known and emerging, from the “Eurocore” region to explore risk and transgression in a society threatened by the twists and turns of algorithms.
Risquons-Tout (“let's risk everything”) is the name of a neighbourhood in Mouscron, a city that lies on the borders of the Walloon region, the Flemish region, and France. According to one claim, the borough was named after a cabaret that was located there in the 18th century, and that the cabaret took its name from the fact that the owner ventured into the business without the necessary funds. Another story claims that “risquons-tout” was the motto of the many traffickers who frequently crossed the border with tobacco and other contraband.
Today, it is the name of an ambitious exhibition at Wiels, focusing on ideas of risk, of crossing borders between people, places, cultures, and artistic mediums. It is also an exploration of the transformation of the world by technologies and by the economy, and of how that world is embedded in the contemporary artistic imagination.
Within a dynamic of deployment that is similar to that of “The Absent Museum” (2017), the contributions of the 38 artists cover the three floors of the Wiels building, as well as a neighbouring extension. More than half of the works were produced specially for the occasion. It is an exhibition-world in which we continually cross invisible borders as we traverse its rooms, with the visitor's guide disguised as a passport. It is difficult to convey on these pages the many themes that coalesce here, and that flow through the works like rhizomes, or like the network of moles as imagined by Lise Duclaux.
Neïl Baloufa's installation calls public service archives to mind. In a fascinating assemblage of didactic devices and examples of culture and politics clashing, propaganda from the US or North Korea, carnival protests in the streets of Manila, or Warhol's piece in support of the German Greens appear suddenly as if spewed forth from a web overflowing with digital content. Crossing borders is at the heart of Evelyn Taocheng Wang's hybrid work, in which movement and the Asian and Western imaginations are harmoniously interwoven. Shezad Dawood's installation explores the growth of tropical modernist architecture in South-East Asian culture.
While many young artists have been invited, the exhibition will also feature older established artists, thanks to the inclusion of Philippe Van Snick's beautiful sculptures, which are practically never shown, in which thought unfolds and bends with iron wires, and the mysterious and weighty presence of the string pieces arrangements by Bernd Lohaus. These pieces highlight the importance of movement and the embodiment of the artist in the work of the current generation of artists.
“Risquons-Tout” will also include an intense programme of performances. Tarek Lahkrissi's pink bed, which will provide the setting for one of them, resonates perfectly with the colourful fresco by the Dutch artist Nora Turato, a subtle echo of a polemic about social media. As we are so often told, there is no such thing as zero risk. So why not take on the maximum risk? In art, that is always a good thing.
> 10/1, Wiels, www.wiels.org