Visiting Wiels Art Centre in Brussels

Although I am a close neighbor, I never had time to visit the capital of the European Union lately. Well, it was right on top of my list because Brussels has been considered a strong contemporary art city, organizing an interesting art fair yearly. So I decided to give rumors a credit and check the city out…

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photo: WAC

My greatest “WOW” goes to Wiels Art Centre at Van Volxem Avenue.

I was quite impressed by the fantastic building that from outside looks like an ugly massive concrete block in the middle of nowhere. Entering the space I found out the sensational structure, offering a program that made me feel it was worth to be there. A vertical box, yes, but not an empty one. That was exactly the second impression I had by getting into Wiels. So every step I took gave me a reason to want to explore it more. At the front door I really thought I had maybe taken the wrong entrance and got into one of those massive Germanic beer factories. But wait a minute, I was not in Germany. Nope. That was just one of the amazing multiple surprises the art centre offers and now I am quite sure those feelings were all part of the script.

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Getting the stairs to visit the building I was immediately in love with it. I liked the building from inside out. Check out the stairs… could inspire a romantic, thriller or terror film. You decide. But it definitely cannot be ignored.

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The best exhibition presented at the moment: Mark Leckey (born 1964) – Lending Enchantment to Vulgar Materials. Or, how he calls one of his installations: The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things.

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This guy has a sensational sensibility to everything and to this universal and historical human attitude of collecting dumb things, finding sense to them when there is no sense at all. Even better, he gives them humanity. He transformed a dog sculpture with no head into a sound box, he gave multiple human breasts to another animal sculpture with no head and he transformed the female organ into a dog and… He created a bed out of everyday elements, garbage and food. His work is detailed; nothing created without an objective and no waste of waste…  Everything has a sense, a meaning. Even if this sense is to make us feel that we are losing our time every day with those dumb things.



The second floor was more intimate; it reproduced the artist’s apartment and gave us more understanding of the “dumb things” downstairs. One thing leading to another… I wonder why he did not start with his apartment at the first floor and then put the dumb objects at the end. Maybe to drive us crazy right at the beginning? Or maybe to reach everyone with his first vision and ideas, playing cool at the second floor, explaining us his concept later… but definitely the sound experience creates a liaison between both floors and that was also amazing.

On the second floor he plays with sounds, sound boxes, sound machines and technology, making us travel far behind our own past. He also uses lots of different lights. Elements of technology are suddenly part of a scenery of art, even though we use them on a daily basis.

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After that… I could only relax… mission accomplished.

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Photos and video RCF