M Leuven presents an exhibition of French artist Béatrice Balcou

Béatrice Balcou (1976, Tréguier, France) radically challenges the way art is produced, in part by making her own versions of existing artworks. Her artistic approach is atypical: she carefully examines artworks that are not hers, copies them and takes on the role of technician or conservator. 

For Balcou an artwork is not a fleeting image that can be quickly identified or consumed, but rather a physical presence that requires our attention and time. Essential for her is the way we look at things and then process that information. The exhibition space becomes a place where the rapid consumption of artworks and culture in general is resisted and opposed. At M she is bringing together several existing works in one gallery: sculptures, film, drawings and pieces that can be activated during performances. Specially for this exhibition, she made a work entitled Four pins for René Heyvaert, 2019 based on the work Untitled, 1974 by René Heyvaert from the Cera collection. 

Untitled Ceremonies
In her Untitled Ceremonies series, Balcou explores the meaning of the gesture, drawing on her training in visual art and dance, but also on her knowledge of martial arts and Japanese tea rituals. What the gesture symbolizes for her is the importance of touch, feel and movement. Most works of art in collections have a ‘score’, a sort of handbook or condition report, which sets out how the work can best be conserved and how it should be presented to the public. What interests Balcou are the technical manuals and the learned codes relating to the manipulation of an artwork. From white gloves, special packaging materials and work tools, such as mousse, bubble wrap and silk paper, to the possible archive numbering and installation instructions.

Each Untitled Ceremony consists of a series of specific procedures for unpacking the artwork in front of a small group of people. The performances are executed in silence and give the spectator a rare view of an artwork as parts of the work are carefully removed from all the protective material. Consequently, you may well look at the artwork in a different way than if you were to see it in an exhibition. The ceremonies are lengthy, giving the public the time to study the artwork in optimal circumstances rather than just take a cursory, superficial glance. In this series, Balcou is referencing the carefully orchestrated ritual of Japanese tea ceremonies or a state of mind, as in yoga when mind and body are in complete harmony.

Curator: Eva Wittocx

Béatrice Balcou
20.09.2019 - 20.01.2020

M Leuven
Leopold Vanderkelenstraat 28
3000 Leuven

Press visits are possible on Wednesday 18 September upon request. Please contact [email protected] to organise the visit.

This exhibition is a coproduction of M and La Ferme du Buisson with the support of ADAGP. 

“L 'ADAGP gère les droits des auteurs des arts visuels (peitres, sculpteurs, photographes, dessinateurs, architectes ... ) et consacre une parlie des droits perçus pour la copie privée à /'aide à la création et à la diffusion des ceuvres”

“En contrepartie de la redevance perçue sur les supports vierges et Ie matériel servant à copier musique, images et textes (CD, DVD, clés USB, cartes mémoire, disques durs externes ... ), Ie public est autorisé par la loi à copier des ceuvres pour son usage privé. Il participe ainsi à la diversité culture/Ie et à la vitalité artistique : chaque année, près de 40 millions d'euros issus de la copie privée contribuent à financer festivals, salons et manifestations culturelles»”


Béatrice Balcou (1976, Tréguier, France) lives and works in Brussels. Her recent solo and dual exhibitions include L’Économie des apostrophes at La Ferme du Buisson Centre for Contemporary Art in Noisiel (2018), Béatrice Balcou x Yuki Okumura: double suicide at Kumagusuku at Kyoto Art Hostel kumagusuku in Kyoto (2018); Kazuko Miyamoto >< Béatrice Balcou at Exile gallery in Berlin (2017) and at L’Iselp in Brussels (2016); Walk in Beauty at Casino Luxembourg Contemporary Art Forum (2014); Calme, luxe et volupté at Le Quartier Centre for Contemporary Art in Quimper (2014); and Chaque chose en son temps at FRAC Franche-Comté in Besançon (2013).

Over the last few years her works have been featured in numerous group shows including Article 132-75 at Kunsteverein, Langenhagen (2019), Sculpter (faire à l’atelier) at FRAC Bretagne, Rennes (2018), Tes Mains dans mes chaussures at La Galerie Contemporary Art Center, Noisy-le-Sec (2017), Un-Scene III at WIELS, Brussels (2015), Plateforme de jeux at Centre Pompidou, Paris (2015) and Des choses en plus, des choses en moins at Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2014).

In 2018, she was laureate, with Yuki Okumura, of the French Institute’s residency at Villa Kujoyama in Kyoto, Japan. The works of Béatrice Balcou are part of the collections of FNAC Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, Paris; FRAC Corse, Corte; FRAC Franche-Comté, Besançon and FRAC Ile-de-France, Paris.



Press File Béatrice Balcou

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