Apparatus 22, Several Laws. Multiplicity Review at Académie royale des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles

In this exhibition of Apparatus 22, the human body and its natural or artificial shields (skin and clothing) are at stake and become the battlefield of contradictory ideological projections, bearing conflicts or simmering with hidden controversies.

Where regulated ideals of glamour, beauty and consumerism schizophrenia are dictated by current ideologies, however, without completely shedding the profound humanity triggered by these ephemeral and transitory containers of a fragile yet resilient reality.

The deep dialectic tension pulsating within the same epidermal superficiality of appearance, or, more precisely, within this first garment which is the skin, is central to Several Laws. Multiplicity Review. It is manifest through the choice of material and the poetic use of language, as well as through the significant performative potential of the work.

First time shown in academic context, the works are (re)read under the topic of Stealth (furtive, camouflage) investigated by the biennial project of research and academic reflection developed by Brussels’s Academie royale des Beaux-Arts. The exhibition puts precisely into question the registers of visibility or non-visibility, the notions of occultation, resistance and commitment in relation to the present.

The focal point includes a series of large frames covered by wrinkled or finely veined and hand dyed leather. Bearing a range of tones alluding to a panel of cosmetics samples, they refer as much to the fascination for colour as to an implicit hint at social and racial hierarchies. The short poetic texts inscribed on leather underpin, in contrast with the soft and enveloping appearance of the medium, the political dialectic of the project.

The skin perceived as an (auto)biographical field, but also as the first interface of the individual with the public and collective space is of regulated according to social conventions and values. The use of make-up as psycho-biographical camouflage, the addiction to tanning, the surgical and cosmetic bastions, the fear of old age, are all obliquely under scrutiny in the works and give the measure of the emancipation which needs to be carried out.

The Erratic Statistics act as a mobile counterpoint to the large monochrome leather canvases. Reminiscent of Cadere’s wooden bars, covered in multicolor leather stripes of unique varieties, they implicitly express the random hierarchy of our individual or social chromatic-cosmetic blendings.

The paradoxical activation of this invitation to think our paradigms on appearance is materialized in Infinite Contradictions, a flag made of three large pieces of black leather sewn together and attached to three heavy poles. Metaphor of Apparatus 22 collective creative dynamic, the piece can also be activated with the participation of the visitors.

Taking into consideration the color chosen – black, the tension between centrifugal and centripetal dynamics contained in its triptych configuration, the sculpture could be misunderstood as an anti-flag, a symbol of immobility. On the contrary, Apparatus 22 invites us to grasp it as a way to embrace multiplicity, the fruitful coexistence of divergent perspectives offering a solution to problems that may appear first to be appear incongruous. A union triggering here, if not the strength, at least a constructive / positive reflection…

Académie royale des Beaux-Arts de Bruxulles – Rue du Midi, 144 B-1000 Bruxelles
1 – 24 February 2017