The exhibition takes place at several locations, which may bring to mind historical shows, such as Chambres d’amis (1986), held at nearly sixty private spaces: flats, sleeping rooms, anterooms, gardens, and garages. Curator Jan Hoet’s idea was for the “parcelled-out” show to avoid institutional spaces – in fact, the museum that he would be the director of, the Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (S.M.A.K) in Ghent, was under construction at the time – and to blur the line between public and private. One of the exhibited works was an installation by Jef Geys (1934–2018): six doors with the words “liberty”, “equality,” and “fraternity,” the motto of the French Revolution, written in Belgium’s three official languages: German, French, and Flemish. Instead of the neat middle-class interiors at his disposal, Geys decided to display the piece in modest working-class homes; the process of its installation became also an opportunity for him to get to know their residents.
Emeline Depas transforms Geys’s idea and places the motto (in Polish, Ukrainian, and German this time) in a strange place to see what significance it acquires in the new situation. In her spatial installations, the artist often uses traditional drawing media and its digital equivalents, inspired by a universal iconography rooted in the aesthetics of past decades (or centuries). Responding to the invitation from the Zielona Góra Biennale, Depas designed a mural painting on the side wall of the Zielona Góra gallery, visible from the direction of the Lubusz Land Museum. In reference to Geys’s action, the artist quotes the words from his work, testing their agency in the face of nationalist tendencies, often erupting into violence, that are on the rise in many countries. She also adds the French word terrestre, meaning “terrestrial, earthly,” alluding to Bruno Latour and his postulate that we view man’s immediate environment as a commons.
– Emeline Depas, Liberty, Rivnist', Brüderlichkeit, 2020
BWA Zielona Góra, on show through April 2021
Emeline Depas (b. 1987) studied Painting at the École nationale supérieure des arts visuels de La Cambre in Brussels and at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (KASK) in Ghent. Her works have been shown at the Biënnale van België and at Espace 0, GNF Gallery, Island, and Komplot (Brussels), Sub Rosa Space (Athens), and State Art Gallery (Sopot), among other venues. In the future she will pursue interdisciplinary artistic experiments, combining various media and exploring issues of representationality, using references to previously discussed themes, symbols, and books. She lives and works in Brussels.