In Liège, beyond images

Fabian Meulenyser
10 septembre 2016
For its tenth edition, the Biennale internationale de la photographie et des arts visuels in Liège has been redubbed Biennale de l'image possible - BIP 2016, i.e. biennial of possible images. The new name is meant to reflect more faithfully the developments observed in previous years, characterised by the increased hybridisation of images which are deployed on all kinds of media. This exhibition's rebranding does not imply that photography has been cast out, on the contrary. Rather, it is now part of a larger network that allows both its forms and boundaries to open up, while also offering new practices.

On the site of ESA Saint-Luc…

This subtle semantic revamping comes into its own in the exhibition entitled The Possible Image, set at Le Manège Fonck. When visiting the venue, it would be difficult to miss the infra series created by Richard Mosse, as the startling purple, pink and red shades of his photographs taken in the Congo draw our gaze. They were taken using Kodak Aerochrome film which was originally designed to reveal infrared for military use. By diverting the innovative medium from its initial use, Richard Mosse offers a fresh perspective on a conflict forgotten by all, while ignoring the codes of photojournalism: with tanks, automatic rifles, soldiers, rebels and displaced populations shown in a new (pink) light, his whole creation appears dreamlike and definitely worthy of the praise of Lewis Carroll himself.

Intent on promoting artists from the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, the BIP organisers were well inspired when they decided to offer Emmanuel van der Auwera pride of place. Based on a series of superimposed filters, Videosculpture XII, his main installation, plunges the visitor into a guilty form of voyeurism, surreptitiously engaging his responsibility as a watcher, safe from any strife. The Brussels-based artist has surrounded it with other video and photo installations, which, together, offer a caustic and accurate perspective of reality, without falling into conventional moralizing.

There's plenty more to see in these five mini individual exhibitions at Le Manège Fonck. We'll just name a few: Lebanese artist couple Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige with their Une lettre arrive toujours à destination and Candidats (toujours avec toi), as well as Jan Van Ijken and his Art of Flying. Only downside, there was no frame of reference or explanation at the time of our visit, which will force visitors to carry around a catalogue in order not to miss some of the subtle nuances exhibited in those venues..

In Hangar B9, the exhibition Transcendent DIY, jointly curated with Madmusée, indiscriminately shows anonymous and internationally-known artists, with do-it-yourself as their common attribute, since their artwork seems to oscillate between invention, crafts and diverting objects from their primary purpose. In this visual mishmash, the world of Augustin Rebetez clearly stands out and is reason alone to go have a closer look. The artist insists on exploring what he calls his arrière-tête, (back-of-the-head), not allowing "any reasonable, cerebral or inhibiting obstacle" to get in the way of his creative intuition. The result? A universe and characters beyond words, ranging from the creepy to the psychedelic, on the verge of delirium tremens. A must-see, really.

Still on the campus of the Ecole supérieure des arts Saint-LucStéphanie Roland has taken over the Salle Capitulaire with her solo exhibition entitled L'horizon d'un trou noir. The opportunity to discover the oeuvre of this young Belgian artist, which explores the tensions between stability and instability, and where light is central.

... But also in the city

Once you've exposed your retina to all the exhibited artworks, it will be time to direct your gaze at other shows. Not need to get the car, however, most satellite exhibitions are within easy walking distance. The show at Les Drapiers gallery dedicated to Edith Dekyndt would deserve a full article and should delight fans of the Belgian artist. In fact, we discover in this unusual gallery the early stages of her oeuvre through works which have as yet been seldom or never viewed. The opposite of the retrospective presented at Wiels earlier this year, this intimate exhibition, carefully curated by gallery owner Denise Bureaux with the help of Felix Taulelle, rather claims to be an introspection: pioneering works, travel souvenirs and rare catalogues provide the visitor with an interesting context, helping to unlock the mysteries of the genesis of the Belgian artist's works. It's beautiful, it's simple and dripping with passion...

Let’s not forget to mention L'âge du Faire by Charley Case, at the Centre culturel Les Chiroux, Perdu à Pepinster by Charlotte Lagro at the Space Collection, and the photo report C.P.A.S composed by Laurent Gélise and presented at the Galerie Satellite.

Your turn to play see…

Nota Bene

Guided tours and workshops are organised during the BIP Biennial. There are also a lot of fringe events (concerts, screenings, meetings with the artists, etc.) taking place in the various exhibition venues. Check the programme to tailor your visit to your own interests. Lastly, like any respectable biennial show, BIP2016 is complemented by off programme exhibitions which should also be worth a visit.
Biennale de L'image Possible 2016
From 20 August - 16 October 

Fabian Meulenyser

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