Independent Brussels Aims to Cure Fair Fatigue With a Mega-Dose of Performance Art

The fair, guest curated by Vincent Honoré, features 16 performance commissions.

Independent Brussels, 2018. Courtesy of Independent Brussels.

The Independent is one of the more critically admired fairs in the art world, and it’s about to do even more to up its curatorial clout. At the two-year-old Brussels edition of the fair this fall, founder Elizabeth Dee has pledged to give the curatorial agenda “equal weight with the market,” she told artnet News. “We’re not letting the market over-dominate the conversation.”

Vincent Honoré, an independent curator with a background in performance art, is guest curating this year’s fair, which will bring together 60 galleries, museums, and nonprofits on November 8-11. That’s roughly the same number of participants as last year, but this time it has also commissioned 16 performance works and will devote the entire first floor of the Vanderborght building, a former museum, to a program of talks, films, and performances.


f.marquespenteado, Unknown Subjects Among Solitaires (2016) Courtesy of the artist and Mendes Wood DM, Sao Paulo/ New York/ Brussels.

f.marquespenteado, Unknown Subjects Among Solitaires (2016) Courtesy of the artist and Mendes Wood DM, Sao Paulo, New York, Brussels.

The new plan for the ground floor will create a “gathering spot,” says Dee, who is also an art dealer in New York. With a light shaft running through the center of the building, the ground floor will be the “nerve center” of the fair and not “sidelined or isolated from visitors viewing the art on the upper floors.”

Dee says organizers are hoping to strike a balance between “static art”—such as painting and sculpture—”which is typical at fairs,” and live arts, which are “moving and time-based and require in some ways, the participation of the audience.” While other fairs sometimes incorporate these elements, they tend to be more “compartmentalized,” Dee says.

John Hilliard, Paper Balls (1969). Courtesy of the artist and Richard Saltoun, London

John Hilliard, Paper Balls (1969). Courtesy of the artist and Richard Saltoun, London

“It’s really the year of innovation for Independent and Brussels is going to become an incubator for us to road-test lots of things that we’ve been discussing. Now we’re actually putting them into practice and we’re really excited about it because it’s such a big shift for the visitor experience,” Dee says. (The Brussels venue is three times the size of the New York space, allowing for greater flexibility and experimentation.)

Further underscoring the curatorial emphasis of the event, 50 percent of the booths will be solo presentations, while 25 percent are for two artists. “We chose Brussels to get off the super-highway of the marketplace,” Dee says.

Works by Carol Bove and Fred Sandback at the David Zwirner booth at Independent Brussels 2016.Photo: Lorena Muñoz-Alonso.

Works by Carol Bove and Fred Sandback at the David Zwirner booth at Independent Brussels 2016. Photo: Lorena Muñoz-Alonso.

The fair plans to welcome more than 75 museum and patron groups, while Belgian museum curators and directors will lead tours through the fair on a rotating schedule. “You can go through and assess what is of interest on your own and then opt to walk around with a curator or director and get their point of view,” Dee says.

Curator Monia Warnez is overseeing the tours, with a rotating group that includes Philippe Van Cauteren of S.M.A.K. in Ghent, Phillip Van Den Bossche of Mu.ZEE in Ostend, Els Silvrants -Barclay of Netwerk in Aalst, Pierre Olivier Rollin of BPS22 in Charleroi, Xavier Cannone of Museé de la Photographie, in Charleroi, Charlotte Crevits of Musuem Dhondt Dhaenens, in Deurle, and Louise Osieka, from CIAP in Hasselt.

“It’s going to feel very energetic,” Dee says. “I think people will spend more time because they’re really participating.”

Here are all the participants in the 2018 edition of Independent Brussels:

  • Alden Projects™, New York
  • annex14, Zürich
  • Edel Assanti, London
  • BPS22, Charleroi
  • Galerie Sébastien Bertrand, Geneva
  • Hervé Bize, Nancy
  • Galería Marta Cervera, Madrid
  • CIAP Kunstverein, Hasselt
  • C L E A R I N G, New York/Brooklyn/Brussels
  • Dürst Britt & Mayhew, The Hague
  • Dvir Gallery, Brussels/Tel Aviv
  • EMERGENT, Veurne
  • Ermes – Ermes, Vienna
  • Exo Exo, Paris
  • Patricia Fleming Projects, Glasgow
  • Carl Freedman Gallery, Margate
  • Friedman Benda, New York
  • Galerie Christophe Gaillard, Paris
  • GRIMM, Amsterdam/New York
  • Sean Horton (presents), Dallas
  • Galerie Eric Hussenot, Paris
  • Galerie Jousse Entreprise, Paris
  • Kisterem, Budapest
  • Christine König Galerie, Vienna
  • Labor, Mexico City
  • Galerie Christian Lethert, Cologne
  • Josh Lilley, London
  • Meessen De Clercq, Brussels
  • Mendes Wood DM, Brussels/Sao Paulo/New York
  • The Merchant House, Amsterdam
  • Francesca Minini, Milan
  • MAC’s Grand-Hornu, Hainault
  • M HKA, Antwerp
  • Mu.ZEE, Ostend
  • Museum Netwerk Aalst
  • Musee de la Photographie, Charleroi
  • Museum Dhondt Dhaenens, Deurle
  • Galerie Nagel Draxler, Berlin/Cologne
  • NICC, Brussels
  • Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham
  • OSL contemporary, Oslo
  • Parrasch Heijnen Gallery, Los Angeles
  • PLUS-ONE Gallery, Antwerp
  • Berthold Pott, Cologne
  • Almine Rech, Paris/New York/London/Brussels
  • Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London
  • Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris/Pantin/London/Salzburg
  • Richard Saltoun, London
  • Sans titre (2016), Paris
  • Aurel Scheibler, Berlin
  • Semiose, Paris
  • M.A.K., Ghent
  • The Sunday Painter, London
  • Super Dakota, Brussels
  • Supportico Lopez, Berlin
  • Galerie Joseph Tang, Paris
  • Galerie Elisabeth & Klaus Thoman, Vienna/Innsbruck
  • trampoline, Antwerp
  • untilthen, Paris
  • VIGO, London
  • VNH Gallery, Paris
  • Galerie Fons Welters, Amsterdam
  • Whitechapel Gallery, London
  • WIELS, Brussels
  • Witte de With, Rotterdam
  • Amanda Wilkinson, London

Independent Brussels runs from November 8–11 at the Vanderborght building, Brussels, Belgium.


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