A Temporary Monument for Brussels #2:
A Winged Thing
15/07 – 12/10/2018
The second commission in our new art in public space series A Temporary Monument for Brussels is made by Valérie Mannaerts. In her work, Mannaerts extends the idea of a collage to paintings and spatial objects. She doesn’t just present different images together but also combines ideas and objects. Valérie Mannaerts likes to use different materials, such as bronze, ceramics, paint, paper-mâché, and textiles. She pays particular attention to the homely, the decorative, and crafts. Her works explore the boundary between image and object, in a way that reminds us of surrealism from the last century. Surrealist artists made sculptures by presenting everyday objects, joined together in new ways. According to the surrealist thinker André Breton, these works of art had the power to appeal to our subconscious.
The A Winged Thing series developed by Valérie Mannaerts for A Temporary Monument for Brussels builds on conflicted principles. First of all, there is the relationship between what is depicted and the form that these images take. Valérie Mannaerts made five drawings of different drapery. By printing the drawings on fabric, they become objects; flags that billow in the wind.
A flag is a very charged symbol, and Mannaerts wanted to deal with it in a different way. Therefore, her flags are not bearers of symbolic references, but take the ‘flag an-sich’ as a starting point – the piece of fabric that moves in the wind. Within Mannaert’s practice, textile is important as a carrier of an image; we also see this in the curtains that are permanently integrated at BOZAR.
A second, important conflict is that between the references of the visual language and the place where the images are shown. After all, the drapes refer to an intimate domestic setting, to the protective cocoon in which we live our private lives. This contrasts sharply with the public place where we experience the flags.
The tension between the place where an image is located and what it refers to is even more evident in the difference between the traditionally feminine language of drapery and the fact that the public space is undeniably dominated by men. As a man, you may not be able to feel it very well, but as a woman, you unmistakably feel the public space is not yours. With A Winged Thing, Valérie Mannaerts recliams a small part of public space as her own.
All images courtesy of the artist
Installation photography: Jef Jacobs
This project is a contemporary reflection on the historical concept of a monument. It functions as present-day answer to Jacques Moeschal’s beautiful, monumental sculpture Signal from Zellik, which embodies the blind optimism proper to the post-war climate.
A Temporary Monument for Brussels is a project by artlead projects vzw, developed with the support of Brussels-Capital Region and the VGC.