Vincent Meessen. Blues Klair
The Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery presents Vincent Meessen. Blues Klair, the first solo exhibition by Belgian artist Vincent Meessen in Canada and the United States, and the North American premiere of the film Ultramarine.
Within a structure of layered textiles conceived in collaboration with designer Diane Steverlynck, blue is the chromatic, historical and discursive filter through which a performance by African-American poet Kain unfolds. The famed precursor of hip-hop in the late 1960s delivers his “spoken word” as the Belgian percussionist Lander Gyselinck improvises to the flow of his utterances. Throughout the performance various historical objects — astrolabe, mappa mundi, automaton, textile, fresco, film stock — are juxtaposed to Kain’s performance props. They invoke affective retrospections on exile and belonging, slave routes and colonial trade.
Narratives and destinies obscured by history meet in the shared ground of the exhibition, where they mobilize and enter into a dialogue through the forms they take, their inhabitation of space, the sounds that circulate within it, and colour as a sensible lens for reading into the present.
Blues Klair is accompanied through the winter by a series of public programs addressing issues raised by the exhibition. The exhibition opens with a dialogue between Meessen and literary scholar Sylvano Santini. Later in November, Los Angeles-based poet and choreographer Harmony Holiday will present "Exilic Hope/We Don’t Disappear" a new performance considering themes of absence, minor histories and the black radical tradition. For more information on the exhibition and our full calendar of activities, visit our website and follow us on social media.
Guided visits are free and available Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Reserve with Robin Simpson, public programs and education coordinator at the Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery.
Ultramarine was commissioned by Le Printemps de Septembre (Toulouse) for its 2018 edition. Jubilee in Brussels produced the film in collaboration with the Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery and The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery in Toronto, with support from the Flanders Audiovisual Fund, Vlaamse Gemeenschap and the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco.