Guillaume Bijl

Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen (M HKA)

In 1979 Guillaume Bijl wrote a fictitious pamphlet in which the Belgian government dismissed art as “superfluous.” The perverse but logical conclusion was that all art spaces needed to be transformed into useful social institutions. Ironically, during the next decade the very opposite of what Bijl had predicted occurred: in Ostend a former warehouse was transformed into the Museum for Modern Art, and in Antwerp an old factory was transformed into the Museum for Contemporary Art—the very same “museum” in which Bijl’s recent installation was exhibited. More than anywhere else, in Belgium reality beats fiction.

Such reversals only serve to show that Bijl’s critiques of institutional constraints have begun to fall somewhat short of their mark. Where earlier installations, such as the “fitness center” he recreated inside a gallery, or the “auction house” he set up at the Castello di Rivoli,

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