mons-belgium

Jack Whitten, Atopolis: For Édouard Glissant, 2014, acrylic on canvas, 10' 4 1/2“ × 20' 8 1/2”. From “Atopolis,” 2015

“Atopolis”

Manège de Sury

Jack Whitten, Atopolis: For Édouard Glissant, 2014, acrylic on canvas, 10' 4 1/2“ × 20' 8 1/2”. From “Atopolis,” 2015

One of the two European cultural capitals of 2015, Mons was the perfect place for “Atopolis,” an awesome exhibition of twenty-three artists, organized by Wiels Contemporary Art Centre in Brussels. The show’s theme was the possibility of an ideal city in a globalized yet fragmented world. Mons was one of the first European cities to play a major role in industrialization; huge territories in and around the city were devoted to mining—and to housing the many foreign guest workers who were brought there. Around the coal mines, various nationalities lived together in specially designed communities, as if in a dress rehearsal for globalization: the whole world in one neighborhood. The exhibition venue, the Manège de Sury, was once a civil-guard barracks and a school, furnishing an apt metaphor for an independent community living in a micro-city. The title itself—combining

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