A museum that’s placed high in my rank of museums that I don’t mind visiting more than once is the dr. Guislainmuseum (in Gent). It succeeds everytime again to spark my curiosity and it lets me walk out with a smile and a sense of satisfaction.
This time was no different, the exhibition revolves around an emotion we all know and get confronted with it everyday, though not always on the same scale. The feeling of shame. Shame comes in different forms, from your own clumsiness until someone else’s behaviour.
Upon arrival we have a friendly encounter with the woman at the reception and we walk along, up the stairs, onto the first floor. Julie Scheurweghs her photo represents the exhibition in all corners of our little country, everywhere you look you see posters and flyers with her photo beautifully displayed. I wouldn’t have chosen another work to represent the exhibition, it speaks for itself, it speaks volumes without using any words.
After the confrontation with Julie Scheurweghs her photo you walk along and you see the well known Adam and Eve from the polyptic of the brothers Van Eyck, altough in a different skin. The brothers originally painted the couple nude, but in the middle of the nineteenth century they didn’t appreciate this anymore. They rework the first version and gave them bearskin as clothes.
The story of Adam and Eve has a moment of shame. Eve who convinces Adam to eat the apple and as a punishment get banished from the paradise. As they would say ‘Eve should be ashamed’. You could look at it another way, in different cultures the people would be ashamed by the fact that the couple is naked. This sense of shame is a bit pushed to the background in our modern society. We get confronted almost daily with the naked body. We are almost immune for looking at stranger’s their bodies.
It’s a phenomenon of all continents, this is one of the things of the exhibition that fascinated me. Mostly because almost all of the exhibitions I visit are focussed on the European heritage. In this exhibition dr. Guislainmuseum shows you the cultures outside of the European/Westerns borders.
There are these sculptures, named ‘colones’, made in West Africa at the beginning of the 20th century. These sculptures show how Africans saw the Europeans. With clothes very tight against their pale skin bodies.
To prevent from writing a very long post, I’ll just show you the works that stayed with me the most.
Nicolas Karakatsanis, I unknowingly came across his work before. He is the director of photography of Rundskop, the Drop and many more. Over the last few weeks I’ve developed a grand admiration for this man his work. If you want to see a solo exhibition of his photographs, you should go to the Alice Gallery in Brussels. The exhibition runs until 23rd of December 2015.
The images speak for themselves, for some of them it’s quite obvious why it’s linked with shame. Tom Callemin his work is one of those works. A person with his back towards the viewer. Not only the image speaks for itself, also the colours aren’t quite cheerful.
There’s a wall in the museum where several portraits are displayed, these are taking by Mare Garanger. Mare was a photographer during the Algerian war of independence. Everyone needed to be photographed for a identity certificate. These women are forced to take off their veil, which clashed with their rules of believes. The only way to protest against this act is with their gaze, the disapproval in their faces is very strong.
This was originally published on Our Pursuit of Art.
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