The Revenge of the Common Place

Venezia - 07/05/2015 : 30/06/2015

Evento Collaterale 56. Biennale di Venezia


Comunicato stampa

lemish Pavilion
56th International Art Exhibition –
La Biennale di Venezia
Palazzo Nani Mocenigo, Dorsoduro 960
30123 Venice
The Revenge of the Common Place
A Triple History of Appropriation and Illusion on behalf of the Brillo Box, and some
other Stories on Copies and Originals
Curated by Hans Maria De Wolf
Palazzo Nani Mocenigo, Dorsoduro 960, 30123 Venice
7 May – 30 June 2015
Artists Francis Alÿs, Song Dong and Rinus van de Velde have been selected by curator Hans De
Wolf to represent the Ministry of the Flemish community in the Nani Mocenigo Palace in
De Wolf has developed a controversial and humorous exhibition, constructed around some of the
most fundamental misunderstandings between Western tradition and the Far East. Traditionally, in
the West, the idea of authorship has always been highly protected and linked with the notion of
genius. Today, many artists operating in the avant-garde have transcended those ideas, a trend that
started perhaps with Duchamp. What is not yet clear is the question of whether we have already
come to terms with all possible consequences of this new situation, a question which became all the
more obvious since a new kid appeared on the block: the Chinese artist.
Taking Andy Warhol’s famous Brillo Boxes as a starting point, this exhibition will lead the spectator
into a new climate, in which the status of the art work as an object becomes unsecure and suggesting
that we might have reached a ‘post-object-era’. This current situation will be tackled head on by a
new piece by painter Rinus Van de Velde, while the exhibition as a whole will be considerably
enriched by a new installation by Song Dong and a video by Francis Alÿs.
This exhibition is accompanied by a programme of four talks to be held in collaboration
with the Ca’ Foscari University.
The talks will take place from September 2015. Confirmed speakers so far include Hans Belting, Luc
Tuymans, Hans De Wolf, Eugen Blume, Jean-François Chevrier and more. Complete details
including speakers, timings and locations will be released soon.
Editors’ Notes
Questioning the Original
Ever since their first appearance in New York in 1964, Andy Warhol’s Brillo Boxes became emblems
of a new kind of world, in which high art and popular culture were no longer separated. Pop art
became the dominant visual language of that period, and, although the whole movement was rooted
in social critique and scepticism towards modern consumerism, no artists involved would prevent
their works from becoming the beloved objects of an art world now marked by an ‘unbearable
lightness of being’ in comparison to previous periods.
Arthur Danto proclaimed this sensational moment as the end of the domination of cultural elites, a
moment that marked the rebirth of philosophy out of the ‘common place’ for which the Brillo Box
was the ultimate expression. Whilst these ideas were being incorporated into the American
educational systems and beyond, at the same time the believers of Danto’s vision turned a blind eye
to the activities of a number of people (in China, for instance) that were operating in the shadows of
this beautiful new art world.
When the world finally found out about the stories of fakes and business, and curator De Wolf wanted
to introduce them within an exhibition that he was preparing in Beijing, he quickly realised that the Chinese
today simply love the idea of the copy. This summer De Wolf will present a number of objects that are
not art works, nor copies, nor replicas, nor interpretations, and not even an edition. The objects to be
presented in this exhibition allow the painter Rinus van de Velde to come to terms with the whole
story and to make a painting, just a painting. Not a fake.
Since the whole idea was born in China, a universe that has to come to terms itself, with its recent
history (in art) and its own unique appreciation of the copy as the ultimate compliment that one can
make in regard to an original, Song Dong was invited to mirror these ideas within a new installation.
Francis Alÿs will complete the exhibition. Based for many years in Mexico City, Alÿs has already
questioned the legacy of the ‘original’ as a format for many years. His contribution will complete the
exhibition with the notion of violence: probably the most ancient expression of the copy as a format
of narcissism.
Mr. Hans De Wolf, 1961 - Lives and works in Brussels, Belgium
Hans De Wolf is an art historian who focuses mainly on modern and contemporary art, philosophy
and aesthetics. In 2009 De Wolf was commissioned by the Brussels Regional Government to create a
first exhibition project for Shanghai 2010. Several other projects would follow, all bringing some of
Belgium’s outstanding artists to cities such as Beijing, Hangzhou, Seoul, Gwangju, Chengdu and
Beijing. Over the years a unique methodology was developed that can be understood as the
intertwining of cultural and academic diplomacy, whereby exhibition projects become the driving
force for an intensive interchange including local universities and art schools. Most recently, in
October 2014, De Wolf curated the exhibition ‘Master Mould and Copy Room’ at the museum of
the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in Beijing.
Mr. Francis Alÿs, 1959 - Lives and works in Mexico City, Mexico
Francis Alÿs’ works consist of performances, videos, drawings, paintings and sculptures, which he
creates and developes in different cities, such as New York, London, Lima and Jerusalem. Alÿs
describes the context of his artistic activities as being ‘political’, but in the Greek meaning of the
word polis: the city as a place of awareness and conflict. With simple, ironic and outspoken actions,
he studies the influence of art on life in the city.
Mr. Song Dong, 1966 - Lives and works in Beijing, China
Song Dong has stood up on top of the avant-garde action art movement in China and became an
important conceptual artist in the contemporary art development of China. The artistic forms of
Song’s works cross such areas as actions, images and sculpture, etc. His works are often found
between the modern and the traditional and between art and life. They often explore the transience
of human behaviors and the relationship between human memory on one side and history,
sentiment, self-awareness and the external world on the other side.
Mr. Rinus Van de Velde, 1983 - Lives and works in Antwerp, Belgium
At the base of the recent work of the Antwerp-based artist, Rinus Van de Velde lies an obsessive
documentary process, in which the artist works with an archive of photographic images which are
then used as basic elements for a series of charcoal drawings. These drawings do not contain a
certain essence, nor the structure of the image, but they are produced because of the effect of the
drawing itself. Van de Velde occupies the material in order to tell a new story.
For more information contact
Rhiannon Pickles, Pickles PR
[email protected]
Organising body:
Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Free University Brussels-VUB) Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussels, Belgium http://
Commissioned by:
Ministerie van de Vlaamse Gemeenschap Kunsten en Erfgoed
Arenbergstraat 9, 1000 Brussels, Belgium