M HKA

Jumana Manna’s practice in sculpture and film focuses on the power dynamics surrounding the processes through which history and places are constructed and consumed. She reanimates these dynamics to form installations that evoke landscapes, sites of labour and bodies in states of uncanny mutation. Ways of knowing and knowledge classifications have been a recurring theme in her recent works. At times this is explored in the acts of collecting, preserving or propagating material and living archives. In others, these themes are embodied in a more associative manner, drawing from the worlds of archaeology, construction, and musculature.

Manna’s exhibition at M HKA titled Thirty Plumbers in the Belly, is comprised of a new body of sculptures that move between the worlds of sewage, digestion and building sites.

As part of a permanent reflection on the origins and identity of the M HKA, a series of exhibitions will present different aspects of its predecessor, the International Cultural Centre (ICC). Founded in 1969 and closed in 1998, the ICC was the first institution of contemporary art in Flanders and was housed in the stately Royal Palace in the city centre of Antwerp. In a period when traditional museums failed to live up to the needs of contemporary art, the ICC’s approach was democratic, progressive and international. Following the recent presentation of the acquisitions of the M HKA City Collection, a selection from the Foundation Gordon Matta-Clark (1979-1985) will be presented. This sub-collection was accumulated in a failed attempt to save Office Baroque (1977), the only remaining cut out building by Matta-Clark at the time of his death at 35 years old in 1978. After the demolition of Office Baroque, numerous artists withdrew their works, yet others remained to support the associated goal of creating a museum of contemporary art in Antwerp. In retrospect, it can be stated that the year 1978 was a decisive moment, which sparked a slumbering awareness for the necessity for a museum of contemporary art in Antwerp. The Foundation forms the connection between the ICC and M HKA. The works that were donated to the Foundation not only form the historical basis of the M HKA collection, they also underline the international solidarity between artists as a political vehicle.

On the occasion of fifty years of Lotta Poetica (1971-1975), the M HKA is dedicating an archive presentation to the renowned neo-avant-garde magazine. Lotta Poetica was a radical and polemical artists' magazine, founded by Italian artist Sarenco and Belgian poet Paul De Vree. In the early 1970s, the magazine grew into the international nucleus and proponent of socially critical and engaged visual poetry: the poesia visiva. The movement was indebted to the historical avant-garde and Dadaism.

On the basis of documentary material from the ICC archive and the Paul De Vree Archive, the presentation gives a brief overview of the international network and wide-ranging activities (group exhibitions, performances, publications and other publications) of the magazine in the 1970s. The artists' magazine Lotta Poetica acted as a catalyst for artistic experimentation in Flanders and beyond.

The presentation is also part of the celebration of the Paul Van Ostaijen year and the hundredth anniversary of Bezette Stad (Occupied City). On the occasion of this event and upon the invitation of the M HKA, Alain Arias-Misson will organise a public poem in the city at the end of the presentation.

Andrew Webb (1966-2019) was born in Warwickshire, England, and studied at Goldsmith's College, University of London. After a short stay in Spain, he and his partner Jon Thompson moved to Belgium in the mid-1990s, where he lived, first in Antwerp and then in Brussels, until 2008. From 2008, he lived and worked in Sandwich, England.

Andrew Webb's oeuvre initially consists of conceptually based objects and collages, and draws on the use of language, visual and phonetic puns, anagrams, humour, eroticism and beauty. His own initials (A & W) appear frequently in his works and function as simulacra for Alpha and Omega. In this way, Webb links his works and his own name to the Cosmic. His work is decidedly contemporary, although it evinces influences from Dadaism and Surrealism.

From 2011 onwards, Andrew Webb adopts his own unique style of painting. He creates very colourful canvases, filled with references, puns and poetic ambiguities. The last paintings found in his studio in Sandwich refer to his important spatial works: The Aristocratic Hairline Machine, The Line of Saved, and the use of missals in his collages and sculptures.

This small retrospective is organised in collaboration with Annie Gentils Gallery and provides a coherent overview of Andrew Webb's oeuvre, complemented with artist's books, sketches and other documents from his archive.

Lothar Wolleh (Berlin, 1930 - London, 1979) is a German photographer who became well-known primarily because of his intensive contacts in the international avant-garde art scene. From 1963 to 1979, he portrayed dozens of prominent artists, the first of whom was Lucio Fontana.

Based in Düsseldorf, the young photographer first concentrated on the Rhineland art scene, portraying artists such as Günther Uecker (1963), Otto Piene (1964) and Gerhard Richter (1966), without however losing sight of European icons such as René Magritte (1967). His work has such intensity and character that his photographs have often become the most frequently used portraits of his portrayed subjects.

However, to depict Wolleh as a mere reporter or portrait photographer would be a major mistake. The artist's true life’s work is an all-encompassing project that consists of encounters, actions and collaborations. Wolleh is a connecting figure. The portrayed artists themselves also set to work with the photographs that Wolleh sends them. They carry out interventions on the work: Fontana perforates them, Uecker paints on them or drives nails through them, and Richter integrates pictorial fragments taken from the photos into his monumental canvases.

Wolleh’s collaboration with Joseph Beuys eventually proved to be one of the most intense. The artist produced hundreds of images of Beuys, taken during performances, lectures and exhibitions.

On the occasion of Joseph Beuys' 100th birthday on 12 May 2021, much international attention is also focused on Lothar Wolleh. In this INBOX exhibition, however, the focus lies on the interaction between Wolleh and the artists who unleashed a true revolution in the arts during the period 1958-1962 in, among others, the Hessenhuis in Antwerp. A selection from the archives of the Lothar Wolleh Estate brings together an impressive series of treated portraits of these Hessenhuis artists.