On October 1, 2016, Galerie Jérôme Poggi opened the second exhibition of emerging Flemish artist Wesley Meuris, in conjunction with a radical installation project the artist will present for Fiac! at Grand Palais, and ahead of an important solo show in 2017 at the Grand Hornu Museum of Contemporary Art. Following up with his Musée des Futurs, presented during the summer of 2016 at Confort Moderne, Wesley Meuris continues to question the exhibition processes and techniques of display, turning the gallery into an agency. Willingly indefinite in its meaning but not in its shape, the agency is embodied through a series of display cabinets.
In the interview with Wesley Meuris titled Autobiographie d’une vitrine, accompanying the exhibition The Agency c.o. at Galerie Jérôme Poggi and The Agency e.p. at Fiac! 2016, Niekolaas Johannes Lekkerkerk argues that Meuris’s work is marked by speeches and his sculptures are “ostensibly more capacious and expressive than their neutral surfaces might imply.” Charged with ambiguity and a sense of power play between various actors, the artist’s works are driven by his interest in the dynamics and politics of display and are concerned “with the fundamental spatial languages of displaying and exhibiting within art contexts – spatial and written languages made of objects, reference and classification systems that essentially enable and support museological knowledge production and distribution through classification and hierarchization.” In Meuris’s work, Lekkerkerk explains, “the object of display becomes both subject matter and subject in its own right. Making a close reading of the materiality and conceptual underpinnings of display modules, among plinths, pedestals, vitrines, cabinets, information displays and book publications, and their embedding within the exhibition, the institutional archive and library, Meuris shows us how and by what means these structures and figurations are vision-inducing and transporting devices that create environments, enable and control perceptual conditions, and provide groundings for the production of subjectivity.”
The Agency refers to a concept of agency that contextualizes the perception of what is on display. “The use of the title almost has the same function as a pedestal,” explains Meuris: “it simultaneously hides and highlights elements. ‘The Agency’ is an overarching term I employ as something which indicates an environment of assembled theories and perceptions. Often, a vision statement or a strong slogan gives a first understanding of what these entities stand for. They indisputably cover much more than the few lines they initially show, among a verity of functions, interests, ideologies, motives, aims, ambitions, and other directing aspects, which are hinted at but remain largely obscured. Only by getting acquainted with the organization are you able to get an insight.” Meuris’s agency is one that challenges future thinkings, as the artist says, with the agency of thought and imagination that can subvert the ideology of display structures.
“There is not always a clear-cut method in creating display,” argues Meuris. “When I analyze the architecture and infrastructure of institutions that show, archive, conserve and present artefacts and other objects more and less related to art, I cannot rid myself of the palpable and visible field of tension between the scientific policy on the one hand, and the visually stimulating presentation on the other: between the collection as heritage and the institutions’ longing for renewal, between political control and artistic freedom, economic input and public return, and so on, and so forth. The negotiation and dynamic between these parameters – in relation to the physical design and the communication mechanisms – are an inexhaustible domain of fascination for me.”
Wesley Meuris was born in 1977. He lives and works in Belgium. His work intersects with both architecture and scientific systems of consolidation and classification. He addresses concepts of conservation and engages in a rationalist understanding of space and knowledge. He produces such varied objects as zoological enclosures, hypothetical archives, museum furniture, and fictional exhibitions.
Meuris’s work has been the subject of several international exhibitions, such as Kunsthalle Wien (2016) and Mu.ZEE, in Oostende (2016). Four years after his large personal exhibition at Casino Luxembourg (2012), the Grand Hornu Museum of Contemporary Art will host an important solo show in 2017. He recently exhibited at BF15 in Lyon (2014), at Kunsthal Rotterdam (2014), at Fresnoy in Tourcoing and at MAMAC in Liège (2010).
A number of critics have written about Meuris, including Michel Dewilde, Lievan Van Den Abeele, Eva Wittocx, Jean Marc Huitorel, and Florence Ostende. His work has been the subject of several monographs.
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