To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from curator and architect Andreas Angelidakis and musician Grant Hart to poet LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs and artist Alejandro Cesarco—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2014.
Devrim Bayar is curator at WIELS Contemporary Art Centre, where she recently organized the exhibitions of Daan van Golden, Thomas Bayrle, Allen Ruppersberg, and Robert Heinecken, among other projects. In 2015 she will curate the first large survey exhibition of French artist Pierre Leguillon entitled The Museum of Mistakes: Contemporary Art and Class Struggle, which proposes an exhibition model that attempts to foil, or “de-class-ify”—to reprise the exhibition’s title—the hierarchies of art. She is the founder of the web platform Le Salon aimed at presenting, documenting and reflecting on the Brussels contemporary art scene.
Belgium vs. USA at the World Cup
The FIFA World Cup means something different for every participating country. This year, the Belgian team’s efforts became a timely symbol of national pride and identity soon after local elections had seen separatist parties gain even more power. In this regard, the match of Belgium vs. USA was the most electrifying. I had never seen my city stand so still as all eyes were riveted to TV monitors. When Belgium finally won after a tough battle, the European capital literally exploded. People from all linguistic and ethnic communities descended on the streets to celebrate the victory of Belgium and this multicultural celebration was a wonderful sign of what Belgium really stands for, against the current right wing political mood.
The adoption of the law allowing parents to choose the family name of their children
If, as Jeff Koons would claim, procreation is the way to eternity, why should eternity bear fathers’ names only? Under pressure from the European Court of Human Rights, Belgian lawmakers have tried for 15 years to pass a law that allows parents to choose which last name they give their children. This year the law was finally adopted, allowing parents to choose between the father’s, the mother’s or both parent’s last name, marking a new step in the direction for more gender equality and allowing me to give my soon-to-be-born daughter my family name.
Haim Steinbach, once again the world is flat. at Kunsthalle Zürich (curated by Beatrix Ruf)
This exhibition literally blew my mind. It not only offered the rare opportunity to discover early works by the artist and to retrace his evolution but also introduced a remarkable scenography created by the artist himself who thus reinterpreted his own works and played with the exhibition codes at its core. At once seducing, full of humor, and complex, this show allowed us to firmly grasp Steinbach’s reflection about art, display, and commerce and their interconnections.
Jef Cornelis at the Liverpool Biennial (curated by Anthony Huberman and Mai Abu ElDahab)
Jef Cornelis is a TV director who is well known and respected in Belgium but much less recognized abroad. I was thus happily surprised to see an entire section of the Liverpool Biennial dedicated to his work. His documentaries from the early 1960’s until the end of the 1990’s exploded the conventions of television and provide a unique insight into the history of the arts of the time.
Daan van Golden: Photo Book(s)
My former colleague Emiliano Battista accompanied me throughout my research on Daan van Golden for the retrospective exhibition that I curated at WIELS in 2012. Following this in-depth research, he developed a fascination for the photographic work of the artist and published a monograph entirely dedicated to this generally less documented part of van Golden’s practice. His book reproduces every page of every catalog on which van Golden published a photograph. The book thus reveals the people and the motives that keep coming back in the work of van Golden while playing with the notion of repetition so dear to the artist. Brilliant!
Planningtorock, All Love’s Legal (released by Human Level)
Without hesitation the album I listened to the most this year. All Love’s Legal proves that artists can still create politically engaged songs that keep you dancing all night long. And it works at the gym too!
Instagram accounts of K8 HARDY, Rob Pruitt, Jerry Saltz,…
I might be late on this one but it’s only this year that I signed onto Instagram thanks to NYC artist Megan Marrin, who lived at my place at the beginning of the year and convinced me to join the social network. I must admit that I have taken pleasure in following people who excel in appropriating new technologies for their social satire. Now I am looking for more of these fun yet provocative web persona.
Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys, Die Schmutzigen Puppen von Pommern, Micheline Szwajcer Galerie (Antwerp) and Art Basel Unlimited
Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys are two of my favorite Belgian artists, whose work explore dark psychological states and spaces. Their recent series of scarecrows are characters “allergic to social positivism and utilitarianism, who abhor humans who aspire to physical health, labour, and reasonable material wealth.” Presented at Art Basel Unlimited, this installation provided a stark yet healthy contrast to the generally seducing and complaisant atmosphere of the fair.
Joachim Olender, La collection qui n’existait pas
La collection qui n’existait pas premiered just a week ago and hasn’t been subtitled in English yet. This documentary about the conceptual art collection Herman and Nicole Daled built in the 70’s, and which the MoMA recently acquired, provides an authentic and rare insight into the life of these collectors, who considered collecting nothing less than a form of political engagement. A lesson from which many should learn today.
Robert Heinecken: Lessons in Posing Subjects (co-published by WIELS & Triangle Books)
2014 has seen the publication of the entire series of Robert Heinecken’s Lessons in Posing Subjects which the American artist created in 1981-1982 and which was the centerpiece of the show of the same title I curated at WIELS over the summer. Thanks to the help of the artist’s estate, my partner Olivier Vandervliet of Triangle Books and I conceived this publication as a real artist book. It took us many long hours to work on the hundreds of Polaroid prints that are reproduced in this book in order to stay as true as possible to the analog original with our digital means. I am very proud of the result of our efforts and that it will leave a trace to this remarkable body of work.