press release

Joëlle de La Casinière, Ana Jotta, Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven
Three Moral Tales
June 15–August 25, 2019

Curated by François Piron

The moral tale is a literary genre whose popularity was at its climax throughout the 18th century, a time when the ways of living and acting were bound within strong traditions assigning social roles and genres, while a rise of rationality and free-thinking re-organized the so-called “natural order” of things established.

The works of the three artists invited to Three Moral Tales are not those of moralists, but they somehow entertain a certain moral dimension, by standing as critical allegories. Joëlle de La Casinière, Ana Jotta and Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven make use of fables and caricatures to observe and criticize the cruelty of human relationships.

The French artist Joëlle de la Casinière, the Portuguese Ana Jotta and the Flemish Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven have in common to pay no fealty to trends of contemporary art. Moreover, they unwaveringly fought throughout their career to avoid being categorized in any official line. Instead, they stood aside, turned underground or remained indifferent to the twists and turns of the market and the institutions. They sometimes created surrogate characters, hid or playfully modified their names to somehow react to the branding of identity in the art world, and to the forced marginalization they have been through as women artists, as much as artists living in peripheral cities. In a way, paradoxically, being marginalized made them work against the grain, to opt for a calculated versatility of media and styles, and an idiosyncratic vocabulary, keeping total freedom as their one and only rule.

This exhibition is an exercise in weaving—or yielding. Its hypothesis is that the works of three artists who don’t know each other, have never met and have developed their practices in three different contexts, can dialogue, connect and intersect—and eventually merge in one same exhibition.

In the work of Ana Jotta, the animal figure is a constant reference. Besides making reference to cartoon characters or child book illustrations, and to other undermined cultural fields considered minor, these animal characters also refer to the fables, from Ovid’s Metamorphoses in the Antiquity until the fairytales of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, where anthropomorphism and animality mingle into fantastic figures.

For this exhibition, Ana Jotta will exhibit a large presentation of works spanning three decades of her work, as well as new productions. Recent works like Ana e eu (2018), an installation of suspended painted discs, Fala-Só (2017), a spectacular bleach drawing on a 40 meter-long piece of suspended fabric, and Portuguese Handicraft (2017), a wallpaper of the many found images collected by the artist over the years correspond with older works, like the collection of Jotas, found artifacts and crafted objects in J-shapes evoking the name of the artist. Series of paintings, individual sculptures and collages create a new ensemble that encompasses the whole career of the Portuguese artist.

Joëlle de La Casinière has been working during the past four decades in a very independent way, at the crossroads between the fields of poetry, cinema and the visual arts. Her art was very much defined by her way of life: nomadic for a long time, she has lived and worked with like-minded friends who never defined themselves as artists or poets, at least not as a career-making definition. Together, they established from the early 1970s the commune of the Montfaucon Research Center, a mock-up institution in their house in Brussels, which has been active until now, publishing books as well as producing films and videos.

The exhibition Three Moral Tales will be the largest presentation to date of Joëlle de La Casinière’s work. It will notably focus on her collages and graphic work, an impressive body of work spanning four decades. Initially intended to be letters sent to friends and relatives, these collages act as diaries and travelogues, gathering notations, handwritten and typed poems merging with drawings and cut-out images.

The exhibition is an opportunity to produce a new installation by the artist, focused on her poetry. It aims at printing, in a limited edition, the entirety of her manuscripts that had remained unpublished until now, that is 20 different books in an edition of 50 copies.

Emerging in the mid-1970s, the work by Flemish artist Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven has been coincidental with the rise of the punk movement, to which she has been faithful, in her own way, until today. From the punk aesthetics, she took the notion of collage, as a way to organize the juxtaposition and collide of violently conflicting images. As a pioneer of industrial noise music with her band Club Moral, she also kept a sense of challenging the audience through intense sensorial and intellectual stimulation. Driven by a radical feminist ethos, she has consistently emphasized the representation of women and their empowerment against the alienating male gaze.

Van Kerckhoven work is of interest for many diverse fields, and she has collaborated with cognitive scientists, choreographers, and theologians to quote a few. Her work can be approached in various ways, and for this exhibition we will envision it from a multi-dimensional perspective, linking feminism to radical politics, that she encompasses in her deeply idiosyncratic language.

A publication, designed by Bureau Roman Seban, will accompany the exhibition. It will function as an index, focusing on one single, previously unpublished, body of work of each of the artists.