The great white entrance hall of the former casino has been refurbished. More modern, more standardized, more functional– the long information counter that confronts you with the staff at the very end of the hall is somewhat prevailing. It reminds you of the structures in bigger Museums. The National Gallery all over, or something. They must have been seeing things big here : there are even new LED screens and huge plants – no doubt, you’re at the right place, this is a museum. Except that the excessively big counter doesn’t display any information, the three screens are empty of visuals and there is no catalog to buy at the front desk.
The hall is part of Wesley Meuris’ exhibition “R-05.Q-IP.000I” : a game with the codes that define an exhibition and the space around it. The term “exhibition” is seen in its broadest sense – as something “to be shown”. Meuris’ work explores the way the spectator is confronted with the exhibited object through a very concise set of rules and codes. The glass display cases, perfectly executed, ready to be used and filled with objects – are empty. The container become the content of the exhibition – as well as the intellectual and phyiscal spaces around it.Through this analytical and deconstructive process leaves a purified form of the somewhat estranging esthetics of a museum stage, Meuris questions the way we see culture through these static, standardized norms.
A second part explores the economic aspect of culture. Fictional exhibitions are advertised through graphic work that follows the standardized norms. Their blunt messages are the result of a museums as commercialized institutions trying to get as big a crowd as possible – at the cost of the actual artwork’s credibility. On the advertising posters, merchandising and sponsors’ messages outnumber the actual events’ presence. In a society ruled by entertainment and fun, the visit of museums and exhibitions increasingly becomes a vulgar object of consumption.
A third part of the exhibition raises the question on the limit between the roles of the Artists and Curators. Again, Meuris criticizes contemporary culture structures by displaying archive rooms that categorize Artists and their Work through subjective, pseudo-scientific systems and museum models where facilities, shops and office rooms for the museum staff outnumber the actual exhibition spaces show
During the visit, the spectator may feel a slight unease in the static perfection of the disposal : The rooms are in a state of suspension – as if the exhibition was waiting for the objects it is going to show – no matter what it is going to show: it will just have to fit these norms.
Meuris’ deceptively “empty” work leaves a lot of space for reflection, and he, the artist, leads the way with a rare mixture of sensible precision and humour. He makes sure our mind and the eye keep busy while walking through spaces that are, technically, showing nothing at all.
Wesley Meuris ”R-05.Q-IP.000I” at the Casino, Luxembourg, until the 2nd septembre 2012.