The Jewish Museum of Belgium presents the exhibition 'Ellis Island'

A group show with works by Armando Andrade Tudela, Marianne Berenhaut, Heidi Bucher, Miriam Cahn, Latifa Echakhch, Sigalit Landau, Alina Szapocznikow, Naama Tsabar and Lawrence Weiner

In the run-up to the major retrospective of French photographer Mathieu Pernot, the Jewish Museum of Belgium is opening the exhibition Ellis Island in the museum's new Project Space on 30 April.

The exhibition, curated by Eloi Boucher in collaboration with the Jewish Museum of Belgium, brings together 9 contemporary artists who deal with themes such as exile and migration, reflecting their views on the world as a place of dispersion, confinement and wandering.

The title of the exhibition refers to the island facing Manhattan in New York. This was the main point of entry for many communities arriving on American soil between 1892 and 1924. Nearly sixteen million emigrants – mostly from Europe, but also from Middle Eastern countries – passed through it in transit and were required to undergo a series of medical and psychological examinations, and were required to change their identity.

Georges Perec, a writer of Polish Jewish origin, offers us a detailed description of this 'non-place' in his text Ellis Island written in 1979: a utopian place where one forgets oneself, where one's body and identity are transformed, a place where one also leaves room for dreams and the hope of a better world.

Ellis Island is not a theme, nor is it the illustration of a rhetoric. It is not a formal adaptation of a novel, but rather a motif, a formula, a syntactic unit that has the capacity to reveal a memory and trigger the imagination through the works of twentieth and twenty-first-century artists.

The works themselves are extremely diverse. The soft ‘garbage dolls’ made by the Belgian artist Marianne Berenhaut with discarded stockings in the 70s, stand in stark contrast to the destroyed electric guitar by Naama Tsabar, which invites the viewer to participate directly in the exhibition by playing on the broken guitar to create new scores. The provocative works on paper by Polish artist Alina Szapocznikow are at once sexualized, visceral, humorous and political, while Lawrence Weiner's words painted on the wall of the museum's yard formulate statements in a neutral language. And the ‘Hanging Clouds’ series by Latifa Echakhch allows the visitor to discover fragments of history in objects that are almost derisory, but also represent the artist's childhood reminiscences drawn from the depths of memory.

Ellis Island
The Jewish Museum of Belgium - Project Space
30.04 – 29.08.2021
Rue des Minimes 21
1000 Brussels

PARTICIPATING ARTISTS: Armando Andrade Tudela, Marianne Berenhaut, Heidi Bucher, Miriam Cahn, Latifa Echakhch, Sigalit Landau, Alina Szapocznikow, Naama Tsabar & Lawrence Weiner

CURATOR: Eloi Boucher, in collaboration with the Jewish Museum of Belgium

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Mathieu Pernot

The exhibition Mathieu Pernot. Ce qu'il se passe starts from a space-time that is as precise as it is emblematic: the island of Lesbos in the year 2020. Located in the Aegean Sea, a few kilometres from the Turkish coast, this island has undergone a succession of crises in 2020 that have made it a crossroads of our history and consciousness. Mathieu Pernot's photographs of that island and their refugees not only question the themes that reflect the long history of Jewish communities such as exile, violence and solidarity, but also question his own practice by developing a multi-voiced narrative that includes images made by the migrants themselves.

Mathieu Pernot: Something is happening
19.05 - 19.09.2021 

The Jewish Museum of Belgium
Rue des Minimes 21 ​
1000 Brussels

The Jewish Museum of Belgium, a museum of art and history

Located in a dynamic and multidisciplinary cultural location in the centre of Brussels (Sablon district), the Jewish Museum of Belgium (JMB) takes a fresh look at Jewish history and culture through exhibitions and activities focusing on sharing, discovery and accessibility for a wide audience.

The plan for the Museum originated in the early 1980s with the collection of objects and documents about the history of Jewish communities in Belgium. Today, the JMB operates at the intersection of art and culture, and is a space for tradition, openness and debate. The Museum is working on a vision of the future with respect for the past, and with values of openness, courage and modernity while gradually constructing the public face of the new Museum that will open its doors in 2025.

Project Space

The exhibition Ellis Island takes place in the project space of the Jewish Museum, a place within the museum that makes room for new and experimental projects. It is an intimate exhibition space (70 m2), which opens a window to contemporary artistic practices while maintaining a critical view on structural themes with which the museum is working.









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