WIELS: Art without borders
Text: Pierre Antoine Zahnd | Photo: Alexandra Bertels/Wiels
Even for Brussels’ vibrant museum scene, WIELS is certainly one of a kind. Set on the grounds of the former Wielemans brewery from which it draws its name, the art centre does not contain a permanent collection, choosing instead to foster variety and cultural exchange, providing the best of Belgian and international contemporary art.
From its fifth-floor panoramic terrace, WIELS offers a sweeping vista over the Belgian capital. This perspective finds a reflection in the goals of the museum itself: according to its director, Dick Snauwaert, WIELS outlook is an extension to the city’s strong international culture.
To be so, WIELS offers nine residency studios, selecting up to 20 artists among hundreds of candidates each year. This mobility allows the art centre to address contemporary issues that lack representation in more traditional museums, such as the migration of populations and the refugee crisis. In addition, it also functions as a community-orientated centre of learning, hosting workshops, seminars and other educational events.
Among the wide range of future events, some 2020 highlights include a two-floor monographic exhibition of world-renowned German photographer Wolfgang Tillman. Grounded in scenes from everyday reality (from a London crossroads to depictions of the Iranian underground scene), Tillman’s work is both a political and a poetic meditation on what it means to experience reality today (running 1 February to 24 May 2020).
WIELS is also broadening its horizons further in 2020, with new artists in residency from Korea, Peru, Norway and Romania, among others. And the exhibition Monsoon Melody, by Vietnamese artist Thao Nguyen Phan, is centred around the complex history of her native Vietnam. This cross-medium collection includes three videos as well as watercolour paintings, using historical and fictional narratives to explore her country’s social and political context (running 1 February to 26 April 2020).
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