Piazza's Artspace in Brussels
Did you by any chance hear any news about the Lithuanian-born French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas? A London-born, Portugese artist who lives and works in Brussels, Paulo Alves, is looking for him.
They told him that Levinas died in 1995, but Paulo kept looking for him. Dead is not the end. Some warned him for the fact that this ‘Jewish’ thinker caused a stir in philosophy because he put so much emphasize on the ‘encounter with the Other’. They weren’t used to that in philosophy (departments), you know. Paulo was not shied away from this; he wanted to experience what it meant for his art practice to open itself up for this particular encounter. Others tried to explain to him that Levinas’ strong intervention in philosophy was now very much recuperated by a ‘common’ political and even market-driven discourse whose emphasis on the other actually boiled down to ‘courting the electorate or the buyers’. Some of them added that even the art world became too much infatuated with this Other, in such manner that the ‘social turn’ in the arts really implied too much attention to that ever expanding ‘audience’ instead of the other in need. Paulo listened carefully to what people told him, but couldn’t resist his calling. He had to persist. The hardest blow came from the other artists who felt the urge to throw back at him: ‘Why do you need a philosopher to spice up your art?!’ Paulo sat down and thought awhile about the journey he was going to continue.
LET’s FACE (IT), LEVINAS! is our first project of the year: Paulo Alves is doing a residency at InBetween this month. For more information on the happening and masterclasses we are setting up with him, see the other blogposts. He will update the encounters he has with the ‘other’ for us on this blog via his diary notes.
InBetween, in its three year programming, has been focusing mainly on art projects that tackle or play with (socio-political) concepts that ‘we’ keep alive as we use them overtly in many different contexts. In this regard concepts like ‘democracy’, ‘consumption’, ‘god’, ‘asylum’ have already been dis-play-ed in this project space where young artists and youngsters, together and individually, take a stand on social matters through the arts. By inviting performer and visual artist Paulo Alves, InBetween now plays out the concept of ‘participation’ and its role in artspeak.