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Vincent Meessen

Vincent Meessen
Photo: Wali Issa Lee
A visual artist working on the fringe of curatorship, Vincent Meessen does not limit the mediums in his artistic arsenal. He gravitates toward narratives teased out of history, calling on assorted ephemera, objects, and environments to expose parallels and associations among seemingly disparate places and events. His projects trace and upend the West’s influence on the documentation of historical events and movements, challenging accepted tenets and stirring controversy as a means of initiating both introspection and public dialogue. A member of the artistic research and production platform Jubilee, Meessen embraces the subjugation of the individual auteur and celebrates the intellectual prowess of collectives. He has presented films and artworks in museums around the world, including a recent solo show at Centre Pompidou, Paris, and he has participated in the Venice, Shanghai, and Taipei biennials, among other exhibitions.

Born 1971, Baltimore, USA; lives and works in Brussels, Belgium

Biennial Project

SIISIS, 2016

Bricks, digital prints on MDF, photographic prints, archival documents, mirror, acrylic

Courtesy the artist

Vincent Meessen’s work draws from history, assembling printed objects and architectural elements to challenge conventional narratives and stir conversation about the present. SIISIS responds to the work of the Situationist International (active 1957–72), a group of artists and intellectuals who were concerned with the role of art in consumer society and the experience of the modern city. The Situationists produced artworks, architectural designs, and writings that used map-making and wandering as alternative ways to experience and understand the urban environment. SIISIS proposes an imaginary labyrinth city based on the Situationists’ plan to build an experimental city on an unpopulated island. The structure is designed for an uninhabited Greek island that is actually currently for sale, proposing that the territory be used and managed by asylum seekers who would effectively become citizens of the entire African-Eurasian supercontinent. SIISIS addresses the pressing question of global citizenship and migration; it leverages legal and design creativity to enable the free movement of people.
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