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4th Biennial of the Moving Image: Film, Video and Installations in Twelve Special Venues in Mechelen
Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Where is Where?, 2008. Written and directed by Eija-Liisa Ahtila. Produced and Copyright owned by Crystal Eye Ltd., Helsinki. Courtesy of Marian Goodman Gallery, New York and Paris

MECHELEN, BELGIUM.- Contour, the Biennial for Moving Image, was established in 2003 as a platform for presenting cutting edge developments and the best in art of the moving image. The biennial presents artists working with film, video and installation in special locations in the historical inner city of Mechelen; unexpected or unusual venues within walking distance from one another. Since the first edition in 2003, a different curator is invited to provide the biennial with a new framework, vision and dynamic. The fourth edition bears the mark of the Brussels-based curator Katerina Gregos (GRC). Under the title ‘Hidden In Remembrance Is The Silent Memory Of Our Future’, the exhibition probes history, advocates its importance and revolves around questions of historical representation and historiography.

Gregos invited 18 artists from 12 countries who investigate the complex and often persisting entanglements between past, present and future. The exhibition features Belgian and international artists, established as well as up-coming. Highlights include the Finnish artist Eija-Liisa Ahtila, arguably one of the best artists currently working in video, and the internationally acclaimed Belgian artist Michaël Borremans.

Contour presents visually engaging and intellectually stimulating art, aiming to reach a wide as well as specialist public. Tickets are valid for the whole duration of the exhibition, since there is more than can be seen in one day, and enough to be discovered repeatedly.

Contour is unique in Europe as it offers the opportunity for the viewer to experience top-rate international contemporary art in one of the continent’s historic cities.

The Concept.
Contour 2009 takes place twenty years after the fall of the Berlin wall, a timely moment to consider recent history. Since then developments occur at a more accelerated pace. According to curator Katerina Gregos: “We are at a point where we believe that the past cannot teach us anything, which is a very precarious view. It is now more urgent than ever before to negotiate the present through an understanding of the past. This is also evident in the work of a growing number of artists whose work mines history and explores notions such as time, memory and remembrance”.

Contour 2009 will revolve around questions of historical representation and historiography. It will explore how historical narratives are constructed, and will highlight the complex and often persisting entanglements between past, present and future. The artists in Contour 2009 aim to demonstrate how the residue of history affects our perception of the present as well as our visions of the future.

Some examples:.

► Eija-Liisa Ahtila (FIN) casts new light on an incident that occurred more than 50 years ago. In Algeria, two young Algerian boys murder their French friend. Further on in time, the crime becomes a poetess’ obsession. She raises the spectre of colonialism, colonisation and oppression, to demonstrate its repercussions today, as well as to speak about the historical and personal trauma that has been a result thereof.

► Lene Berg (NOR) traces a story that revolves around the publication of a drawing of Stalin by Picasso made in 1953, after the Soviet leader’s death, for the French communist publication Les Lettres Françaises. The portrait, intended as a tribute to Stalin, provoked a scandal, to Picasso’s surprise. The film goes on to reveal the personal, political, artistic and media implications of this simple drawing, and the problems of translation that it engendered.

► The Mechelen-born Belgian artist Herman Asselberghs (BEL) has developed a new project for the biennial: a film that challenges the preconceived idea of 9/11 being the ‘unofficial’ beginning of the 21st century. He proposes an alternative date to mark the new millennium, 15/2, the day more than 30 million people protested over the world against America’s unilateral decision to invade Iraq.

► Andreas Bunte (DEU) presents an (almost) fictional chronicle of electricity in the mid-nineteenth century (see the Contour 2009 campaign image). How was this magical phenomenon received? The work continues the artist’s interest in scientific development and the history of ideas, with a particular view on modernity and the changes wrought on society by technological progress. In addition, Bunte will also present a new work, specially commissioned by Contour.

► Chto Delat (RUS), an artist’s collective based in St. Petersburg presents a film which revolves around a historic date in recent history, August 21st, 1991, the day of the foiled coup against Gorbachev’s ‘Perestroika’. The day the Russian people thought themselves able to build a new, just society.

► Julian Rosefeldt (DEU) will present an evocative four-screen video installation entitled The Ship of Fools. Here, the artist draws on archetypal German national symbols as well as German Romantic painting to raise the spectre of nationalism, pinpoint the persistence of history, and the dangers of historical amnesia. In his work, however, there is no critical moment of ‘truth,’ no predictable punch line, and conclusions may only be drawn in the mind of the beholder.

► Mira Sanders (BEL) Mira Sanders’ new video and installation, made especially for Contour, takes as its point of departure the history and evolution of tourism, the phenomenon of increased mobility and travel that was democratised at the second half of the twentieth century, and how this history is represented as image. Beginning with an old post card of a landscape observation tower in Heist-op-den Berg, Sanders proceeds to examine a whole host of images of tourist monuments and landmarks, translating them into drawings to examine their meaning as symbols and to examine their construction and function.

Participating Artists: Eija-Liisa Ahtila (FIN), Herman Asselberghs (BEL), Yael Bartana (ISR) Ulla von Brandenburg (DEU), Andreas Bunte (DEU), Lene Berg (NOR), Michaël Borremans (BEL) Matthew Buckingham (USA), Chto Delat (RUS), Maryam Jafri (PAK), David Maljkovic (HRV) Vincent Meessen (BEL), Nathaniel Mellors (GBR), Wendelien van Oldenborgh (NLD), Julian Rosefeldt (DEU) Mira Sanders (BEL), Yorgos Sapountzis (GRC), T.J. Wilcox (USA)

4th Biennial of the Moving Image | Eija-Liisa Ahtila | Lene Berg | Andreas Bunte | Chto Delat |

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