For its landmark 35th edition, Art Brussels has announced a unique collaboration between internationally renowned exhibition-maker Jens Hoffmann and distinguished curator and critic Piper Marshall for the flagship artistic project situated within the fair.

Called “Mementos: Artists’ Souvenirs, Artefacts, and other Curiosities”, the exhibition will bring together personal objects and artefacts from the private collections of a diverse group of artists, all of whom are represented by galleries participating in Art Brussels 2017.

Objects in this flagship artistic project include: a book kept by Josephine Meckseper from an ex-boyfriend and descendent of Victor Hugo, a bottle of sandy water collected by Kendell Geers from the meeting point of the Indian and Atlantic Ocean at full moon, and Kris Martin’s small bell without a clapper, acquired as a child and the source of inspiration for his major work now installed at the Walker Art Centre.

Installed within an intimate display designed by the Brussels-based architecture firm Lhoas Lhoas, the objects offer an alternative to the way we think about collecting – one which attaches high emotional or sentimental value to objects and is defined by individual histories and memories. Displaying these items in the context of an art fair suggests a different economy to that of the investment in art objects, whilst also revealing the sentiments and attitudes of the participating artists in a personal and highly subjective way.

“Over our 35 editions to date, artists are, and have always been, at the centre of our programming,” said Anne Vierstraete, the managing director of Art Brussels. “This highly personal project celebrates the everyday human experiences of individual artists who are championed by galleries at the fair this year. We are so delighted to have engaged with two such esteemed curators for this edition, who are working to bring the stories of the artists alive, while bringing our collective attention to the nature of collecting, and the emotional import of the items we hold most dear.”

The artistic project will feature personal objects and artefacts from the private collections of over 50 international artists including Robert Barry, Eric Baudelaire, Larry Clark, Kendell Geers, Andrea Eva Gyori, Jenny Holzer, Folkert de Jong, Joseph Kosuth, Germaine Kruip, Jose Lerma, Kris Martin, Josephine Meckseper, Jonathan Monk, Herman Nitsch, Malgorzata Szymankiewicz, Gert & Uwe Tobias and Betty Tompkins among others.

“The personal objects offer singular emotional connections that might perhaps only resonate with one particular person,” said Hoffmann. “By inserting dissonances into the economies of art, the presentation offers an important line of inquiry into why, how, what, and when we collect.”

In line with the fair’s ethos ‘from Discovery to Rediscovery’, the artistic project represents artists spanning the fair’s exciting sections: from a younger generation of artists featured in DISCOVERY and unduly underappreciated artists within the REDISCOVERY section to the internationally established artists in PRIME.

“Often we keep objects for personal reasons, for their gauge of our identity formation, for their marking of passed time, or for their status in relationship to a period in life,” said Marshall. “With this project, we investigate whether there are any links between the artists’ individual practices and these valued objects, which have been entrusted to us for the exhibition. We wanted to bring to life the stories of the artists participating in Art Brussels, through the objects they collect.”

As an event in the event, in anticipation of his commission at the Belgian Pavilion in Venice this year, curated by Eva Wittocx, photographer Dirk Braeckman will present a large range of prints from the Sisyphus series from 2005 in the lounge of fair partner Stibbe.

Besides the expo, talks and conferences will address the theme of artists’ legacies, further to the symposium that will take place in Brussels the same week by Flanders Art Institute and NICC, in partnership with Art Brussels. An accompanying programme, titled POLITICS OF THINGS, features artist interviews with the curators, cross-disciplinary discussions and readings.

Art Brussels sees the participation of 145 galleries from 28 countries: 18% Belgian (26 galleries), 82% International (119 galleries): of which 15% from outside of Europe (22 galleries). A positive data for the Belgian art event is the encouraging 24% of newcomers to the fair (35 galleries).


Art Brussels 2017 from Friday 21 April until Sunday 23 April 2017

Preview: Thursday 20 April 2017

Tour & Taxis, Avenue du Port 86C, 1000 Brussels, Belgium