Belgian culture: A big birthday for the Centre for Fine Arts

BELGIUM CULTURE Bozar Projet Palais_Campaign
Bozar Projet Palais_Campaign

Our latest Belgian culture looks how our favourite Belgian cultutal spot will celebrate 100 years.

Project Palace, a Centenary
In 2022, BOZAR will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Centre for Fine Arts. Various festivities are planned, centred around the Project Palace exhibition. Together with curator Prof. Wouter Davidts (Ghent University), Bozar has invited ten artists to reflect on what an arthouse like Bozar can offer both today and tomorrow, on the basis of new work. Each artist may also bring a ‘guest’ from the rich history of the institution.

The comprehensive and less significant stories that the artists draw from the past will not only give the audience a special glimpse into the history of the house but, more importantly, will generate conversation topics for the future…

Invited artists: Lara Almarcegui, Sammy Baloji & Johan Lagae & Traumnovelle, Lynn Cassiers, Jeremiah Day, Sylvie Eyberg, Liam Gillick, Annaïk Lou Pitteloud, Koen van den Broek, Auguste Orts (Herman Asselberghs, Sven Augustijnen, Manon de Boer, Anouk De Clercq, Fairuz Ghammam)

Special guests: Chantal Akerman, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Raoul De Keyser, Duke Ellington, Olivier Foulon, Vic Gentils, Maxime Jean-Baptiste, Jane Graverol, Sandra Heremans, Guy Mees, Jacqueline Mesmaeker, Sergej Rachmaninov, Charley Toorop, Michael Van den Abeele, Raphaël Van Lerberghe, Jan Vercruysse

What will Bozar be celebrating in 2022?
On 4 April 1922, then-Mayor Adolphe Max ratified the legal basis for the construction and creation of the association ‘Palais des Beaux-Arts’ (Centre for Fine Arts) at the Brussels City Hall. As such, he was fulfilling the wish of Queen Elizabeth who, as early as 1913, was working to establish a new institution for living arts. The first article of the bye-laws describes the ambition of the new arts institution: ‘to build and manage a building devoted primarily to artistic exhibitions, musical performances, and literary or artistic shows or meetings’. Six years later, on 4 May 1928, the time had finally come and the brand new building with all the arts under one roof opened its doors to the public.

Bozar Jeremiah Day

In the past, 1928 was invariably remembered as the official anniversary date. Each celebration has tended to focus on what has happened in Victor Horta’s building since its opening. Project Palace looks further back into the past for the first time, celebrating the symbolic anniversary of 1922: the moment when the dream became a definitive project. The visionary artistic plans of the time formed the foundation of the vibrant space for the arts as we know it today.

In those six years between the signing of the bye-laws and the opening of the building, the focus was on imagining and shaping the Centre for Fine Arts. It was an exceptionally creative and liberated phase: all options were still open. Today, Bozar is pleased to seize upon this anniversary to review its own institution with the same open-mindedness and reflect on the future.

The Project Palace exhibition
Curator Prof. Wouter Davidts asked several artists and collectives to create multiple works that give meaning to this centenary. Each artist touches on a particular aspect of the Centre for Fine Arts from his/her perspective. Project Palace is therefore not a chronological archival narrative of the highlights of the past, but a contemporary course that also addresses idiosyncratic and critical viewpoints.

We’ll give you a little preview: for a few weeks Koen van den Broek will set up his studio in Bozar and be inspired by the architecture. Lynn Cassiers is creating a contemporary hymn for the institution, while Sammy Baloji, Johan Lagae and Traumnovelle will explore Belgium’s colonial past and its link to institutions such as the Centre for Fine Arts. Lara Almarcegui studies the materiality of the building and, with her installation, reminds us of the gigantic steel structure that stood in the Horta Hall from 1972 until the early 1990s. BINGO (Belgian Institute for Graphic Design) takes inspiration from the colourful graphic history of the palace. And Liam Gillick polishes the monumental steps in the Horta Hall with vodka and glitter, the remnants of a spectacular party…

BELGIUM CULTURE Bozar charley toorop_kinderen Radecker_ Collectie Museum de Fundatie
Bozar charley toorop_kinderen Radecker_ Collectie Museum de Fundatie

The Centre for Fine Arts also asked the artists to choose a loaned item from the institution’s history. This offers a motley crew of additional invitees or ‘special guests’ from both a distant and more recent past.

The exhibition is using the centenary as an opportunity to also address the present and the future of the Centre for Fine Arts: by reflecting on what has been experienced and accomplished, one inevitably arrives at what still has to be faced and potentially realised…
1 Apr – 21 July 2022

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