Foreign Places
WIELS, Brussels
18.06 – 14.08.2016
Artists: Egle Budvytyte, Sara Deraedt, Patricia Esquivias, Beatrice Gibson with Alex Waterman, HAiKW/ Toril Johannessen, Fiona Mackay, Emma van der Put, Robin Vanbesien
Curated by Grégory Castéra (Council, Paris) & Caroline Dumalin (WIELS)

[from the exhibition's guide:

assembly for an Oresteia, 2016

Robin Vanbesien presents a prelude to his forthcoming film vision for a citizen (due for completion in spring 2017), a fictional story based on his research into grassroots solidarity movements in Athens. In assembly for an Oresteia, as a first rehearsal the actors Evi Saoulidou, Akillas Karazissis, Bryana Fritz, Christos Passalis and Robin Vanbesien interview the real-life protagonists of local solidarity organizations: Kaiti Mendoni (Solidarity Piraeus), Christos Giovanopoulos (Solidarity4All), Christina Papadopoulos (Festival of Solidarity & Cooperative Economy), Christos Korolis (Mesopotamia Solidarity School in Moschato), Georgia Bekridaki (Time Bank Exarchia) and Christos Sideris (Metropolitan Community Clinic at Helleniko). The conversations, conducted collectively in a circle, reflect the ethics and the potential of self-organized democratic processes, at a time when the increasing lack thereof is felt all over Europe. The video was shot at Green Park, Athens, on 19 April 2016. Nine months before, to the day, the abandoned building of this former popular café had been occupied and reactivated by artists in reaction to the country’s overall instability and the absence of infrastructure for contemporary culture. vision for a citizen is conceived as a present-day adaptation of Aeschylus’ Oresteia, originally staged for and by Athenians in their city-state in 458 BC. Orestes had taken the law into his own hands and killed his mother to avenge the murder of his father, and is thus brought to trial before the goddess Athena and a jury of citizens. By referring to the dramatic tradition of the polis, Vanbesien simultaneously invokes the roots of politics.

project for an exhibition: citizen without qualities, 2015-16

The film is accompanied by four paintings from Vanbesien’s most recent and larger series citizen without qualities. He used readymade textiles for his canvases, the colours and textures of which are predetermined by their original function as costume or T-shirt fabric. They portray ambiguous, roughly sketched and painted characters that lie down or sit up sleeplessly: are these reclining figures vulnerable victims or rather politically dormant citizens? In the words of Vanbesien: ‘The dream-figure of a “citizen without qualities” has been haunting my imagination while making this series of paintings. Someone who can only be noticed by her appearance, yet is without any special properties other than her lived experience. Someone who neither belongs nor is entirely excluded and uncounted, a person dissociated from the current state of affairs, unrepresentative, as she doesn’t point to a place to be occupied; a common stranger. In my dream, this figure embodies the material for a society where the social can no longer be defended by an image of order, but remains as the irreducible core of a life lived in spite of political and economic circumstances that undercut it.’]

See also:
'Notes on the Oresteia' , essay, translated from Dutch by Dan Frett, originally published in nY, December 2015.

Images:
Stills of assembly for an Oresteia (2016, 30') / Documentation photography of Foreign Places © 2016 Sven Laurent - Let me shoot for you