WIM DELVOYE: INSURRECTIONARY ART NOT SUITABLE FOR GENERAL AUDIENCES

Wim Delvoye has just said goodbye to the monographic exhibition dedicated to him by the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, in Brussels, in a risky proposal in which the subversive sculptural work of the artist lived together with the classical pieces of the museum's collection.

Wim Delvoye, installation of “Tabriz”, “Shahreza”, “Arak”, “Karaj”, “Khermanshah” and “Bidjar”, 2010-2016, in the showroom with “Le martyre de Saint Liévin” by Rubens at the background. Photo from: El Gran Otro, by Por Patricia Lago L. and Maximiliano Turri

If something is evident in Delvoye's work, it is his desire to stir consciousness and offer an openly critical reading of our globalised environment. It is not difficult to notice a message that mocks the models established in our society with an ironic language that portrays the hypocrisy of our time. The intentional use of contemporary referents in seemingly absurd or improper contexts produces a clash of ideas that opens the door to reflection. Between disgust and complicity, the spectators of their work face a transgressive discourse that rarely leaves them indifferent.

Wim Delvoye, “Truck Tyre”, 2017. © Courtesy Wim Delvoye / photo: Studio Delvoye, via RMFAB

Another factor that favours the impact of his speech is the choice of formats. Delvoye is not satisfied with small pieces but he goes big, with sculptures and installations that achieve a great presence in space. In this way, the assembly of the exhibitions manages to break the stillness of the rooms and generate a true dialogue between the past and the future. The author, already a veteran in these proposals organised in classical museums, such as the Louvre or the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, appreciates the opportunity to make contemporary and historical art coexist because it attracts an audience that to some extent has already lost interest in the old. Thus, the exhibition "Sculptures" of Brussels is located in the middle of the halls and exhibition galleries under the watchful eye of the characters of Rubens, arranged in the walls painted in salmon and aquamarine.

Wim Delvoye, “Cloaca New and Improved”, 2001. © Courtesy Wim Delvoye / photo: Studio Delvoye, via sculpturemagazine.art

Delvoye's extensive work also plays with the variety of disciplines and techniques, in addition to the use of classicism and references taken from the entire history of art. The result is disturbing. Long ago he had presented a controversial sculpture in which a Christ was twisted on himself like a pretzel and exposed in front of an oil painting that represented the burial of Jesus Christ. The same can be said of his piece "Cloaca New and Improved", or simply "Cloaca", introduced by a massive sign with this word that emulates the Ford logo, in which it represents, as an assembly line with glass containers and laboratory material, a complete digestive process whose result is as expected: faeces served in a huge beaker. We also highlight the installation "Cabinet", a set of ceramic pieces that represent gas bottles and circular saw blades painted in blue with the traditional Delf style and arranged in a wooden display cabinet handmade in Indonesia. This work seeks to raise awareness about the effects of the colonial occupation and its impact on the course of history, and how this concept is treated forces us to rethink what we see to go beyond the visible.

Wim Delvoye, “Untitled (Fortnite 01)”, 2019. © Courtesy Wim Delvoye / photo: Studio Delvoye, via RMFAB

With an exquisite execution, Delvoye dares with numerous materials that gradually surrender to the impulse of his ideas. Be it metal, or stone, the whole of his work is eclectic and difficult to classify. Perhaps we could group it under a common guiding thread that is the desire to question the status quo of things, the supposed benefits of this galloping modernity that alienates us and traps us, but also gives us the freedom to carry out projects such as the ones this author poses, and make them live with the past of art. We live in a disturbing world. Thanks, Delvoye.

 

Thirteen years have passed since its beginnings, and in all this time the Video Art Festival PROYECTOR has grown and consolidated its position as an essential event in this discipline. Since its inception, the initiative has tried to give visibility to a discipline that has always been relegated to the background in the usual exhibition circuits. Although video creation is not new, since it emerged by its own in the 60s of last century, the way to get to know it and enjoy it has not always been easy. On many occasions, the exhibitions only included a few isolated pieces within the main route, as if the video was the anecdotal contribution to the whole. However, our daily lives are invaded by moving images, and there is a paradox that video art, despite being a format of artistic expression very much in tune with the habits of today's society, remains a minority discipline

Frame from “Hel City”, by Gregorio Méndez Sáez, 2019

To some extent, PROYECTOR was born to reverse this situation, to value video as a creative format and to offer a wide, itinerant space to host a multitude of proposals, coming from inside and outside our borders. In this time, the growth of the festival has led it to travel the world, but also, to be a benchmark that each year arouses more interest. In the open call to receive proposals, they reach almost half a thousand, and a hundred works selected by the jury are a representative sample of different ways of understanding video creation, with pieces mainly from Europe, Latin America, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

In turn, PROYECTOR wants to be more than a video showcase and offers a large program with talks, workshops, masterclasses, meetings with artists, visits and concerts. A complete experience that always has the moving image as a backdrop.

El Instante Francisco Ruiz de Infante. El bosque que se mueve (errores de medida)

In this evolution, another circumstance stands out: video is a creative format that has its own codes, but it is also one of the disciplines most open to artistic hybridization and the widening of uses. The video may, therefore, be the genuine idea of an author who conceives an autonomous project to be carried out in this format, but it can also be the complementary result of an action or the documentary record of a previous performance being recorded to guarantee its survival. The versatility of the moving image and the potential that it has acquired in recent years allows us today to speak of numerous branches of art that focus on the fusion of languages and the integration of techniques and methodologies from other sectors, and in many of them, the video is still a cornerstone. So it is with technological art, interactive sound art, performance recording, the transformation from big data to image, artificial intelligence, and a long etcetera. Precisely for this reason, PROYECTOR offers a panoramic vision of this reality, with an extremely interesting program that plays with the variety and wealth of proposals.

Frame from “Herdança”, by Thiago Rocha Pitta, 2007

The 2020 edition will run from September 9th to 20th. As usual, the program displays in various venues throughout the city of Madrid, each of which will house a small section of the activities. This year the festival will count with the collaboration of the Casa Árabe, White Lab, Cruce, El Instante Fundación, ¡ésta es una PLAZA!, Extensión AVAM (Matadero Madrid), Institut Français de Madrid, Medialab Prado, Quinta del Sordo, Sala Alcalá 31, Sala El Águila, Secuencia de Inútiles and White Lab, in addition to the collaboration of the INELCOM Collection and the video art collection of Teresa Sapey.

The festival is also the ideal place to articulate the cultural fabric, since it involves numerous professionals in the sector, from curators to creators, from centres managers to critics and teachers. The 2020 program also has the collaboration of the FUSO Festival and the Museo Reina Sofía, which are providing some of their pieces for the exhibition.

In short, an appointment that lovers of contemporary art should not miss and that promises many novelties in this 13th edition.