As part of the 58th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale of 2019, artists Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys occupied the Belgian pavilion with their MONDO CANE exhibition. Curated by Anne-Claire Schmitz, it was given an honourable mention by the jury and you can now see this installation until April 24 at BOZAR. Just next door, actually.
The exhibition is quite an immersive experience which is rather difficult to explain if you haven’t seen it. Of course our neighbours from BOZAR do this better, so we shamelessly play the card of laziness and redirect you to their website : “passing through a steel fence, one enters a secluded space occupied by 22 ashen-faced, mute dolls. About ten of them are automated and perform repetitive actions, condemned to an eternal monotonous existence. MONDO CANE can be seen as a Contemporary Museum of Folk Art in which the human figure is on show, in a society where inertia and apathy reign supreme. (…) They are intrigued by modern society’s current state of psychosis. The dolls in MONDO CANE are living proof of this.”
If your eyes are sharp enough and that you’re the kind of people who takes time to read exhibition labels, you may have notice that Bidules was mentioned as a partner of the project, as it was the case at Giardini della Biennale. Yes, you read it right. How the hell did this happen?
We first met Harald Thys when we were still busy renovating the store, before he dropped again to get new glasses. As he’s a member of Etablissement d’en face, located around the corner, we kept in touch. Later on, he contacted us because he needed, guess what, frames. Not for him this time, rather for a new installation he and his friend Jos de Gruyter were working on for the Venice Biennale. The brief wasn’t that easy: he asked us to provide some eyewear pieces that would suit strange apathetic puppets, while matching their specific stories and ophthalmologists’ prescriptions.
After quite hilarious conversations about 90’s Nord-Pas-de-Calais and through a trial and error work method, we finally provided Harald with a selection of frames. On the hand, it was the perfect occasion for us to dig deeper into our stock, while bringing to the surface pieces that we don’t usually focus on. On the other hand, we enjoyed racking our brains to decide the kind of frames those fictional and marginalised characters would wear in that world peopled by zombies, poets, and psychotics.
Here is a sneak peek of the result. The man laying down in the picture is named Klottemans, and the exhibition catalog will inform you that Klottemans’s body was accidentally discovered in the basement of an unoccupied building in Boom during demolition work. According to the medical examiner, his death dates back to a few weeks. No, we won’t disclose the rest of the story here. Nice try.
Just head to BOZAR until April 24 to experience MONDO CANE, and after that, come say hi, we are not that far after all.