23.01 – 28.03
On 23.01.2021 KIOSK opens the group exhibition x with new works by an unknown number of artists in the historic Anatomical Theatre. The exhibition is an invitation to look at art regardless of name, fame or curriculum. In the summer of 2020, KIOSK contacted several artists with the question whether they would be willing to participate anonymously in a group exhibition without knowing which other artists were included.
The title of the exhibition x is a contribution by one of the participating artists. Outside the exhibition space, the video zwischen den bildern is only available online on the KIOSK website for the duration of the exhibition.
x is not a thematic exhibition about anonymity but a playful experiment that challenges both the art organisation itself and the participating artists to take a different approach to the conventions of producing and exhibiting art.
During x the visitor can talk to the director of KIOSK to exchange ideas about the works on display on the following Saturdays: during the opening of the exhibition on 23.01, on 06.02, on 20.02, on 06.03, on 20.03 and during the finissage on 28.03.2021.
OPENING of the exhibition on Saturday 23.01.2021 from 12 p.m. until 6 p.m.
Reserve your visit on eventbrite!
Excerpts from a possible press conference
Why did you organize this show?
It felt like it was the only thing to do as my first exhibition as the new director of KIOSK. KIOSK developed a program of four solo exhibitions a year for more than ten years. The best way to pay homage to this efficient and highly qualitative model was to reverse it completely: organizing a group exhibition with artists who would agree to create and exhibit works anonymously, without knowing who the other participants of the show would be.
How many artists did you invite?
I could have invited 200 artists and tried to create the buzz with a huge crowd. The current health crisis didn’t allow this, but most of all I didn’t want it to become a game, with visitors trying to guess which artist made which work. I preferred to concentrate on a small group of artists, whom I could give a modest fee for their participation and a small production budget, since I asked for new works that had never been exhibited before.
KIOSK’s website suggests an unknown number of artists. It looks like you like mystery!
Not really. Frankly, I do not know how many artists will finally present a work. The conditions for creating and exhibiting a work for this exhibition are far from the usual ones, and one could see my invitation as a poisonous gift!
Indeed, it does feel ungrateful to not credit artists for the work they have delivered for your project.
I was glad to hear from some artists that my request felt like a relief. You would be surprised how many artists experience stress when they start thinking about notions like career or “oeuvre.” It seems there is always this pressure of not making a faux-pas by doing something unconventional, unexpected, or different than what they should be known and recognized for…
Have you already worked with the invited artists?
I have already organized solo or group exhibitions with some of them. For the others, this exhibition is a first collaboration. A certain acquaintance with the Belgian art scene might help to identify the authors—or not. After all, knowledge does not offer certainty: think of how works by an old master get attributed to another author after new research.
So you didn’t want it to be an exhibition about anonymity?
No. To me it is an attempt to look at works of art for what they are, to understand them and enjoy the way they stimulate your senses and thinking. What if the signature weakens the project of the work and brings it back to the fortuitous circumstances of an existence?
This sounds naïve and utopian!
Not completely. The anonymous show is just one of the many possible exhibition models. The concept is not mainstream, but the show at KIOSK is also not the first of its genre and hopefully not the last. You can’t describe the flavor of an eggplant if you have never tasted one: for a long time already I had been playing with the idea of an anonymous exhibition and I’m glad I have the chance to do it in a public institution, to have a production budget and the ability to pay a fee to the participating artists.
Do you think the same show would also function in a different context?
Of course. I have always been fascinated by artist duos and couples or fictive artists. They function as an alternative to the dominant system of the individual creator for which the name functions as a brand. I think it's important to organize this exhibition on the campus of an art school because it can hopefully help to create different attitudes within a system that revolves around branding. The huge majority of the students graduating will do so as individual artists, using the first name and family name they received when they were born.
Weren’t you afraid of the risk of failure when organizing this show?
What kind of risk and failure are you talking about?
The invited artists could have created ridiculous or ugly works, since they knew their names would not be made public!
I assumed there would be a mutual respect between me and the artists. Such an exhibition is something as dynamic as a river: it can flow very slowly or rather fast. You can try to build dams, but water always infiltrates into spaces you don’t expect. At a certain point, most of the participants told me they wanted to realize paintings: it could have become the most surprising painting show. As I told you, for the moment I can’t tell you how many works will be presented at the opening. If some works can’t be finished on time, so be it! They are welcome to join later.
Could you tell us something about the title of the exhibition: x?
The title is a work by one of the invited artists. Visitors of an exhibition used to be anonymous unless they wrote their names in the livre d’or or list of visitors. Nowadays, due to the pandemic, they’re forced to register. Therefore, we first thought of using the names of the visitors as the title of the exhibition: the title would then grow with the number of visitors while the names of the artists would not be on the poster. But then how could we communicate about the show as long as we had not yet welcomed the first visitor? The artist finally chose a small x.
x is probably one of the shortest exhibition titles ever. Is it a letter or just a sign?
I’ll let you decide. It reminds me of the crosses some illiterate people applied on contracts they had to sign. I like the fact there isn’t just one way to pronounce it. A colleague recently forwarded me an invitation for an exhibition on show in a French FRAC entitled X (the capital letter). I personally distrust capital letters —they seem to convey a sense of hierarchy.