ghent,-belgium

Johan Grimonprez, Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y, 1997, still from a color video, 68 minutes.

Johan Grimonprez

Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (SMAK)

Johan Grimonprez, Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y, 1997, still from a color video, 68 minutes.

One traversed “It’s a Poor Sort of Memory that Only Works Backwards”—the first large-scale retrospective of Belgian artist Johan Grimonprez in his native country—a bit as one might move through an unfamiliar archive: going from confusion to a certain order, from the perception of fragments to the awareness a common mentality, from the multiplicity of words to the emergence of a discourse. The imposing first gallery immersed us in a profusion of sounds, images, and texts that became clarified and coordinated in the progressively smaller galleries that followed; the contributions of several invited artists (Roy Villevoye, Jan Dietvorst, and Adam Curtis) first seemed distracting before demonstrating their coherence; and the diversity of the artist’s subjects gradually allowed an obsession, or at least a dominant theme, to emerge—airspace.

In certain ways, the sky occupies

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the February 2012 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.