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Being, in Brussels 

Argos Centre for Art & Media, Brussels

27.22.06 — 20.01.07

Participating artists: Orla Barry (Ireland), Pierre Bismuth (France), Jota Castro (Peru), Peter Downsbrough (USA), Dora Garcia (Spain), Kendell Geers (South Africa), Agnès Geoffray (France), Shelbatra Jashari (Kosovo), Aglaia Konrad (Austria), Gabriel Lester (Netherlands), Jimmy Robert (Guadeloupe), Charlemagne Palestine (USA), Beat Streuli (Switzerland)

Being, in Brussels was the first exhibition Katerina Gregos curated as artistic director of Argos – Centre for Art & Media, Brussels, in 2006. The exhibition inaugurated its new exhibition space, which added 500m2 on the ground floor of its premises. The internationally acclaimed Rotterdam-based architects MVRDV were appointed as architects for the refurbishment. The exhibition Being, in Brussels, was the first one of its kind to chart the significant presence of important international artists in Brussels, since the 1990s. Indeed, it began with the premise that if there is one thing that characterises Brussels it is its multi-cultural and international profile. Over 120 languages are spoken in the capital of Europe. This plurality is also reflected in the considerable number of foreign artists who have chosen to make Brussels their place of residence and work. At the time, however, their creative energies seemed dispersed and fragmented. The exhibition thus brought together the diverse practices of these artists in order to generate a discursive space and to engender a collective discussion about what it means to live and make art in Brussels. Rather than articulating some overarching, thematic curatorial agenda, the exhibition was conceived in a loose and open-ended manner and instead highlighted the practices of individual artists rather than imposing some forced common theme or dialogue between the works. What was of interest is the exploration of possibilities that may arise from what was, ultimately, a series of chance encounters. The exhibition was thus based on these chance encounters (for which Brussels is the backdrop) rather than a set of fixed or predetermined positions. Being, in Brussels aimed to privilege informal discussion, process and unexpected relationships rather than some imposed narrative. In effect, the whole project was a proposition that rested on the dynamics of what will or may happen throughout the process. The exhibition steered clear of promoting what would have been an artificial sense of a ‘Brussels scene’ – which is nonexistent in any case - but rather aimed to instigate a discussion around what is, in effect, a shared space in the wider sense of the term, i.e. the city of Brussels. Thirteen established and emerging artists from eleven countries presented work in all media.

On the occasion of the exhibition a book entitled The Residents was published featuring 47 international Brussels based artists, including those in the exhibition Being, in Brussels.

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