Title: “Mondo Cane”
Artists: Jos De Gruyter and Harald Thys
Curator: Anne-Claire Schmitz
Commissioner: Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles
The exhibition presents itself as a local folkloric museum that displays the human figure. It contains some twenty dolls, most of them automated; a series of large drawings of pastoral scenes; and steel bars that fence off the pavilion’s lateral recesses. At the centre of the building there are artisans – such as a cobbler, stonemason and a spinner, who staying true to themselves ply their respective trades. A parallel world emerges in the side rooms of the pavilion, peopled by louts, zombies, poets, psychotics, the insane, and the marginalized. These two worlds exist in the same space, but they seem to be entirely unaware of one another. The gestures of the dolls are mechanical and awkward. Their heads are modelled both on fictive characters that have already appeared in the work of Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys and on real people. Activated by the visitors’ presence, the sounds and movements alternate, triggered by a motion detector at the entrance. The space is imbued with songs, plaintive cries and labour. We enter the pavilion as we were entering a wonderland, full of beauty and ugliness. In accordance with an age-old tradition, spectators allow themselves to be drawn by the promise of seeing wonderful things at an exhibition: ‘A show well worth the while of parents and their children!’ The Belgian Pavilion offers a real promenade, akin to a touristic or anthropological experience, reminiscent of an old Europe.
- Mondo Cane, Courtesy of Belgium Pavilion