memymom presents 'Home Game', a major retrospective exhibition at Botanique in Brussels
27.05 – 01.08.2021
Botanique in Brussels is proud to present the major retrospective exhibition Home Game by the Belgian artist duo memymom. memymom is the mother-daughter duo of Lisa De Boeck and Marilène Coolens, who first became known for their intimate family archive of analogue photos in which role-playing and staged mother-daughter scenes are central.
Over the years, these staged dream portraits have developed not only into a mature conversation about metamorphosis, personal identity and the mother-daughter relationship, but also into a plea for sensual analysis and tragic romance.
This is the first time that the duo's home city of Brussels has been the location for a major retrospective of their work. Home Game not only shows an overview of earlier pieces, but also presents a lot of new and never-before-seen images. With more than 220 works dating from 1990 to the present, it is a broader and completely reimagined elaboration of the exhibition previously shown at the Musée de la Photographie in Charleroi (09.2018 – 01.2019).
The images in the exhibition depict a diverse group of protagonists playing different roles in memymom's sensual and mysterious universe. Deeply marked by the political tendencies that threaten to increase injustice and repression, the duo’s more recent work calls for engagement and resistance. From a hunger for compassion, the new work speaks to the viewer on a very personal level. To this end, the duo creates contemporary archetypes within an idiosyncratic iconography.
A key factor here is the fascinating symbiosis of the two artists, which is just as important in the conception as in the creation of the works. The two self-taught artists do almost everything themselves: photography, searching for sets and locations, casting, styling, lighting, and post-production.
A less carefree reality
The Botanique's museum hall lends itself perfectly to the scenography of this exhibition, in which the visitor starts downstairs with the most recent chapter, Somewhere Under the Rainbow (2016–2021), which flowed from the previous series and in which the images are even more layered and critical in terms of iconography and content. References are made to Marilene's past history and certain images function as flashbacks to images from earlier phases. In the galleries above, there is a secure retrospective of The Digital Decade(2010–2015), in which work was no longer done in analogue form. The images were created and edited digitally, and the emphasis is more on the interaction between the two women as characters and on motherhood as a theme. At the back of the sacred space, one can admire The Umbilical Vein (1990–2003), the intimate archive of analogue family photos in which mother Marilène encourages her daughter Lisa to express herself and to present her own improvised theatre scenes.
It is noticeable that Lisa De Boeck has not always been the protagonist, and the collaborations with various actors, dancers and performers from the periphery of memymom are highlighted separately on the right-hand walls of the auditorium. This backward chronology exposes the contrasts in the duo's artistic evolution through recurring references and reflections in the space and the stories. While the characters Lisa played as a child came to life in a fantasy world, the ones she plays now show a less carefree reality in real settings. This engagement has become increasingly important for the signature of memymom.
27.05 – 01.08.2021
Rue Royale 236 Koningstraat
Press conference in the presence of the artists: Wednesday 26 May, 10.30am
Publication Home Game
On the occasion of the exhibition at Botanique, a catalogue with the same name, Home Game, will be published. The publication has the same structure as the exhibition, and thus starts from their latest, comprehensive photo series Somewhere Under the Rainbow (2016-2021) to retrospectively provide new insights into older work.
Many of the works in Home Game have never been published before.
memymom, Home Game
Published by Botanique
With texts by François Cheval, Geert Stadeus and Alice Zucca
Retail price: 35 euro
Pages: 208 pp
Language: English and French
memymom is the confluence of the Belgian artist duo Marilène Coolens & Lisa De Boeck, who are also mother and daughter. Both self-taught, the photographers live and work in Brussels and have formed an artistic team since 2004.
Within the artist collective memymom, there is a state of constant evolution in which the essence of the work always falls back on an intimate connection that gathers pure stories and shows an unbridled imagination. Over the years, their semi-staged dream portraits have developed into a mature conversation about metamorphosis, personal identity and the mother-daughter relationship, but their work has at the same time evolved into a plea for sensual analysis and tragic romance.
The resulting oeuvre – complex and multi-layered – is sometimes theatrical and dark, sometimes playful and light. Often intimate and personal; equally universal and topical. But always uncompromising.