press release

Extra City , Antwerp will play host to the 9th edition of ERROR ONE, who has invited artist Vincent Meessen (Baltimore, 1971) to develop a project for this event.

Shadow Cabinet (three rendezvous) gathers documents, art works and films which offer a plural view on borderline practices, where singular political and artistic agendas are inextricably linked. These underlying ideas form the source of weekly platforms designed to generate encounters. Please join us.

Rendezvous 1 : Thursday 24 april 20:00h: "Speech as a Political Act", a scripted reading organized by Nicoline vanHarskamp Rendezvous 2 : Saterday 03 may 18:00h : "The Blackmailers", film by Tristan Wibault Rendezvous 3 : Saterday 10 may 18:00h: "X. v. Prefect of..." - Counsel's speech for a legal precedent", performance byPatrick Bernier, Olive Martin, Sylvia Preuss-Laussinotte & Sébastien Canevet After each rendezvous, stay with us for the evening talk and a drink. The Belgrade-based curator MarkoStamenkovic(Sb) will contribute to the rendezvous as a shadow spokesperson.

“Shadow Cabinet” (three rendezvous) gathers videos, artworks and artist’s documents around a centrally located platform. This project has become a group exhibition activated by three public gatherings, and will take place from April 25 to May 10, 2008. “Shadow Cabinet” regroups the work of fifteen international artists, among whom are included Paul Chan (Hong Kong-US), Maria Pask (UK), Mark Lombardi (US), Bruno Serralongue (Fr), Matthew Buckingham (US), but also the Antwerp artist Sven ’t Jolle and Jacques André from Brussels. They are all sympathetic to an artistic practice that treats politics as representation.

The title refers to democracies that have assumed the English parliamentary model. The Shadow Cabinet refers to a form of political opposition where the members of the most significant opposition party organise themselves into a virtual government. The Shadow Cabinet at issue here is of another nature. It brings together the works of artists who—in the shadow of the official (party-)political opposition—produce alternative representations and procedures. As opposed to the ‘cabinet fantôme’ (the French translation of the Shadow Cabinet), we propose here a ‘cabinet des fantômes’: a Ghost Cabinet. It has to do with a space whose function consists in questioning politics. ‘Politics’ here is understood as a representational illusion: more specifically, the tendency of ‘politics’ to use every means at its disposal to disguise the very existence of representations and prefabricated appearances. Through their practice alone, the artists brought together here deconstruct precisely the pretension of politics (and the media) to name and label ‘the common’ with laws, codes, regulatory discourse as well as standardised and unified images. In contrast, the artists involved here, by means of the plurality of their identities (the artist in the role of citizen, the unemployed, union labourer, activist, archivist, lawyer, cartographer . . .), point out how the singular form and the individual spirit reintroduce a dissensus which—rather than a consensus—is at the basis of all politics. The work of art perhaps only becomes truly political when it can (potentially) disintegrate the social. In this way art could be—insofar as the social is concerned—an act of inaction; of not-doing; of undoing. From this perspective, art disbands being-together, expels the ghosts of ‘belonging-to’ that haunt every community.

Thus, on the one hand, we have Jacques André, Matthew Buckingham or Maria Pask, who utilise the icons of nineteen- seventies activism (Jerry Rubin, Starhawk . . .). David Evrard re-examines an alter-worldly demonstration with technological imagery which celebrates mass culture. Laurence Rassel and Terre Thaemlitz see creation in a social field by producing rights which are not just author’s copyright. Kosten Koper and Catherine Vertige draw out the trajectory of a few leading artist collectives in Belgium in existence since the end of the seventies. In a similar way, by means of fiction, Alun Rowlands reexamines the scale of certain utopian models. Nicoline van Harskamp interrogates explicitly the formation of public opinion in a series ofreadings executed according to a specific scenario, making use of reports on already-existing ideologies and creative staging. In the margin of legitimate artistic practices there also arise practices that border on the administrative: Mark Lombardi’s diagrams, Jacques André’s temples of unemployment, the robot portraits by Paul Chan, Sven ‘t Jolle’s reports on union meetings, Bruno Serralongue’s photographic documents or even “Cop Talk” by Chris Evans, which are interventions by the police recruiting corps in art academies. Shadow Cabinet is a place that is ‘activated’ on a weekly basis. Everyone is invited to participate—and intervene—in the public gatherings. Our most important, most ‘calibrated’ connection to the community, to the communal—namely, that of the citizen—will be questioned by artists with an express sensitivity for the phenomenon of undocumented individuals. It concerns people who make themselves as invisible as possible, compelled to do by current legislation. At the same time, they refuse to be treated like ghosts: they want their voices to be heard by everyone, to have the same status as their ‘fellow citizens’. Via a staged reading, a film and a performance, we will tackle ‘having one’s say’ respectively: as a political performance (Nicoline van Harskamp, 24 April); hunger-strike as an instrument of the media (Tristan Wibault, 3 May); or again, about the possibility of exposing the weaknesses in the (hostile to immigrants) immigration laws via the issue of copyright laws (Patrick Bernier & Olive Martin, 10 May). Marko Stamenkovic (Sb), a curator from Belgrade, will contribute to these three public discussions.

Vincent Meessen (1971, B/US) is artist en studied and cultural policy. Most of his work is collaborative. Meessen usually establishes delegation protocol so that the work is always and already the result of an encounter. Vincent has also curated programs for UTIL (Brussels), e-flux (NYC), BAK, (Utrecht), Argos center for art & Cinema Museum (Brussels). His personal work has been exhibited at various arts centers and festivals.


Three Rendezvous’ is a series of discursive events taking place in the Shadow Cabinet (Extra City, Antwerp, 24 April - 10 May, 2008). Having a central role in the show, the three meetings are conceived as discursive modes of activation of its visual contents, on a gradual basis (three weeks in a row, covering the entire period of the exhibition duration). Operating simultaneously, from within and in accordance with the exhibiting mode of representation, they function on the basis of engagement among the artists, their works and the audience, at the crossroads of the visual and the textual. In the setting dominated by a centraly positioned platform, the intention they bring is to engage people acting in a certain arena to use their voices and open up the possibility for a political moment to appear in art. Questioning the roles of speech, media and law in the formation of public opinion on the notion of citizenship, they allow oral, cinematic and administrative language of various power-discourses to appear on behalf of or intertwined with the narratives of those lacking their voice, media acces or proofs of legal existence. With all the participants involved in a common conceptual framework, the margins of political action are being outlined while interrogating the principles and narratives under which the current ideological condition is being designed. In that sense, the meetings act as three central nods in the net of contents documenting the exemplary kinds of relations between art and the social world. Through a variety of language-appearances and states of being (scripted, read, performed, written, heard, pronounced or recorded), they constitute the discursive modalities of social practices as one of the priorities of artistic practices today.

The three rendezvous attempt to avoid the possibility of positioning based upon the premises of neutrality. Accordingly, they take forms of appearance that aim to negotiate different and often quite conflictual positions within the chain of relations established upon the intersecting lines of contemporary art and politics. They concentrate, from various angles, on a single subject - the figure of a contemporary migrant circulating around our ethical and juridical spaces. It is exactly this figure that questions the general agreement among the collective identities that are nowadays recognized in the notion of citizenship : and we, the citizens of Europe (as Etienne Balibar would put it) owe them - the Sans-Papiers - for having recreated among us the sense of citizenship - insofar as this no more corresponds to an institution or a status, but to the forms of collective practice and the micropolitics of coming together. The way to interrogate, from various positions, what is nowadays, and what is supposed to be in the future to come - the essence of communal life-forms in the Western democracies - has been one of the main orientation lines behind the Three rendezvous.

The ‘Three Rendezvous’ raise a question: if the division between citizens and denizens, or ‘denied citizens’ is what constitutes the reality of biopolitical actions in today’s Western democratic states, then is it only the model of bare life the one that serves as the foundation of (democratic) sovereignty? This nodal point between the State (and its sovereignty) and citizens (and their right to live) is where the Three rendezvous put into question and measure the premises and effects of the politically exclusive nature of democracy. A relation established within the 'Moebius strip' of such a political framework, in both outward and inward sides of the territory of power and knowledge, is what makes the negotiation on this issue possible. Or, in Jacques Rancière’s terms: 'The political is not the ''outside'', the ''real'' that art would have to reach; the ''outward'' is always the other side of an ''inward''; what makes the difference is the topography in the frame of which the relation of inside and outside is negotiated; the real as such simply does not exist; what does exist is a framing or a fiction of reality.'

The triple axis of Rendezvous is based upon the complementary natures of three art works that, brought together, make the relational sphere open for the distribution of subjectivities : in a circuit of meanings that stem from activism (embedded in the usage of discourse in the formation and distribution of political opinions / Rendezvous 1), through the usage of media for the purposes of activist struggle (while documenting the 'illegal' subjects coming out of invisibility into the realm of hypervisibility, through a collective hunger strike / Rendezvous 2) up to the action itself (where the issue of legality becomes the main point of contestation pertaining to the conditions of mobility for migrants residing on a foreign territory / Rendezvous 3).

Each rendezvous will take as its main point of reference recent works by Nicoline van Harskamp (NL), Tristan Wibault (B) and Patrick Bernier & Olive Martin (FR), respectively. Rooted in the exploration of dialogue as a possibility for empowerment, these rendezvous insist on proposing a political re-contextualization of contemporary artistic practices, as one way to question the de- politicized and de-contaminated environments of capitalist production; also, for the sake of a proper democratic public life, they address the needs for constructing such zones of interest where the public speech must be constantly re-shaped and disseminated, outside of an exclusively concensus -based curatorial / political framework.

Marko Stamenkovic & Vincent Meessen, Antwerp, April 2008

A proposition by Vincent Meessen Scenography by Dirk Engelen & Vincent Meessen Production: ERROR ONE in collaboration with Normal and Extra City

Jacques André (B) // Patrick Bernier & Olive Martin (F) // Matthew Buckingham (US) // Paul Chan (Hkg/US) // Leo Dohmen (B) // Chris Evans (UK) // David Evrard (B) // Kosten Koper (UK) & Catherine Vertige (B) // Labor k3000 (CH) // Mark Lombardi (US) // Maria Pask (UK) // Laurence Rassel (B) & Terre Thaemlitz (US) // Alun Rowlands (UK) // Bruno Serralongue (F) // Sven 't Jolle (B) // Nicoline van Harskamp (NL) // Tristan Wibault (B)

Thanks to Air de Paris, B-architecten, Galerie Catherine Bastide, Constant vzw, Ellen de Bruijne Projects, Edwin Delanoeye & Sam Mampaey, ENSAV La Cambre, Murray Guy, HISK, Independent Curators International, KASK Antwerpen, Komplot, Les Laboratoires d'Aubervilliers, Stella Lohaus Gallery, Greene Naftali Gallery, Radio Centraal, Steven Tallon, Ronny Van de Velde, Vox asbl

only in german

ERROR #9 : “Shadow Cabinet” (three rendezvous)
Guestproject Extra City Antwerpen
Kurator: Vincent Meessen

Künstler: Jacques Andre, Patrick Bernier & Olive Martin, Matthew Buckingham, Paul Chan , Leo Dohmen, Chris Evans, David Evrard, Kosten Koper & Catherine Vertige, Labor k3000 , Mark Lombardi, Maria Pask, Laurence Rassel & Terre Thaemlitz, Alun Rowlands, Bruno Serralongue, Sven´t Jolle, Nicoline van Harskamp, Tristan Wibault