Archive 2017

Image: From the series Selfie, 2012-2017, Image courtesy of Ai Weiwei Studio

Ai Weiwei - Mirror
27.10.2017 - 18.02.2018

From 27 October 2017 until 18 February 2018, FOMU presents the first photo exhibition of Chinese visual artist and political activist Ai Weiwei in Belgium.

Ai’s radical visual critique of human rights violations, abuse of power, and the unchecked state control of the Chinese government in particular has made him into one of the world’s most important contemporary artists.

Although he is often characterized as a Chinese “dissident”, he primarily sees his activism and critique against the Chinese government as a defense of the universal values of free speech and freedom of expression.

Photography plays a crucial role in Ai’s work. The exhibition at FOMU includes both seminal political statements such as Study of Perspective (1995-2011) and his daily stream of selfies and snapshots on social media. On Twitter and Instagram, Ai recorded the years he spent under constant surveillance by the Chinese government, he documents his art and the people he encounters, and shows his ongoing commitment to pressing social and political issues, including the worldwide refugee condition. Ai Weiwei is unafraid to stand up against authority, denounce abuses and expose unbalanced power relations – and always does so with grand poetic gestures and a great sense of irony.

Designed by the artist himself, the exhibition at FOMU presents a thought-provoking overview of Ai Weiwei’s photographic work from the 1990s until today.

Curator: Ai Weiwei


Andrea Stultiens
©Andrea Stultiens, Elly Rwakoma en zijn Russische film camera (uit Ebifananyi 3, All the Tricks)

Ebifananyi - Andrea Stultiens
27.10.2017 - 18.02.2018

The noun Ebifananyi is derived from the verb Kufanana, which means “to resemble”. Ebifananyi is the Luganda word for drawings, paintings and photographs.

In 2011, Andrea Stultiens (NL) and R. Canon Griffin (UG) founded the History in Progress Uganda platform. Under this name, they document historical Ugandan photography collections in their current state.

Stultiens’ role alternates between documentalist and artist and curator. Both personal records and the work of Ugandan photographers, Western colonists and missionaries of the past are being amassed. Having chosen a multi-vocal approach, she invites contemporary artists to help activate the visual material. The results so far are presented in eight intimate publications entitled Ebifananyi and have been shown in numerous small exhibitions in Uganda and Northern Europe.

The FOMU presentation brings together for the first time all the photography collections upon which the publications are based. They demonstrate the wide variety of narrative potential for historical footage. The exhibition also provides insight into responses to the collections in Uganda itself. Stultiens thus aims to show how photographic images in this East African country are being used and questions the stereotypical imagery that is associated with Africa.

This exhibition was organised in partnership with Paradox.

Curators: Andrea Stultiens, Joachim Naudts (FOMU, BE) and Bas Vroege (Paradox, NL)

David Claerbout, The Algiers' Section of a Happy Moment, 2008, still image. Courtesy the artist and galleries Esther Schipper, Berlin and Sean Kelly, New York

The Still Point of the Turning World - Between Film and Photography
23.06.2017 - 08.10.2017

The photographic image is imbued with stillness. No movement, no sound, no time. But what happens if you add one of these missing elements? The exhibition The Still Point of the Turning World - Between Film and Photographyfocuses on that rare moment in which a photographer turns towards film or a video artist turns towards photography. What beauty can be found on the border between these two media?

With works by: Morten Barker (DK), Dirk Braeckman (BE), David Claerbout (BE), Manon de Boer (NL), Jason Dee (UK), Nir Evron (IL), Mekhitar Garabedian (BE/SY), Geert Goiris (BE), Paul Graham (UK), Guido Guidi (IT), Mark Lewis (CA), Louis Lumière (FR), Mark Neville (UK), Lisa Oppenheim (US), Raqs Media Collective (IN), John Smith (UK), John Stezaker (UK), Hiroshi Sugimoto (JP), Ana Torfs (BE), Michiel van Bakel (NL), Jeff Wall (CA); and from the FOMU collection: Henri Cartier-Bresson (FR), Eadweard Muybridge (UK) and Duane Michals (US).

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue of the same name published by FOMU and Kehrer Verlag. This bilingual publication (Dutch/English) can be purchased in the shop. Price: €35.

Curators: David Campany & Joachim Naudts




Suzy Embo - Artiste photographe - Photographe d'artistes
23.06.2017 - 08.10.2017

Artist, photographer, wife… Behind the artist name Suzy Embo (BE, °1936) lies a privileged witness to the post-War Belgian avant-garde. Embo’s abstract images, camera-free experiments, graphic and high-contrast photographs connect her with the Subjektive Fotografie (Subjective Photography) of Otto Steinert, who used pure photographic techniques for the sake of personal expression.

In the 1960s, her work underwent a sea change: from “artiste photographe” to “photographe d’artistes”. Embo befriended Cobra artist Pierre Alechinsky, married the sculptor Reinhoud d’Haese and lived together with them in La Bosse, an artists’ commune northwest of Paris. Alongside her personal artistic work, she trained her lens on the international art scene (including such figures as Pierre Alechinsky, Christian Dotremont, Corneille Hannoset, Karel Appel, Pol Bury, André Breton, Jacques Ledoux and Félix Labisse). The photographer created informal, intimate portraits, recorded artists at work, collaborated on projects and documented previews, plays, dance performances and other events. 

FOMU acquired the entire Suzy Embo archive in 1996. In the summer of 2017, we will be revealing this collection for the first time in the form of a retrospective: Suzy Embo. Artiste photographe – Photographe d’artistes, offering the public an impartial look at the post-Cobra period and the rich oeuvre of this unjustly ignored Belgian photographer.

Curators: Tamara Berghmans & Lander Van Neygen




5 years .tiff
23.06.2017 - 08.10.2017

Belgium is bursting with photographic talent. Every day FOMU is inundated with portfolio’s, websites, blogs and photo-books crying out for a wider audience. To respond to this need, FOMU publishes an annual magazine devoted to inspiring young Belgian photographers: .tiff.

.tiff is as unpredictable as Belgian photography itself. The poster-format magazine features a whole gamut of personalities, moods and styles. Every year, the magazine presents 10 promising young Belgian photographers.

Five years after the first edition of .tiff, the magazine has grown into a vibrant platform with an international standing. It offers a taste of the diversity and dynamism of the Belgian photography scene. This summer, we are bringing together all fifty talents who have appeared in .tiff in the past five years, both in the Rivierenhof Park in Antwerp and at FOMU.




Selleslags Unpacks
11.10.2016 - 22.06.2017

Herman Selleslags (BE, °1938) is one of Belgium’s most famous photographers. In 2015, he donated his archive, and that of his father Rik, to FOMU. Over the course of half a century, Selleslags built up an incredible photo archive. Hundreds of thousands of photographs, glass plates, slides, negatives, press prints, pocket diaries, contact sheets and cameras were relocated to the FOMU depots. The multitudinous archive boxes are literally and figuratively the heart of the exhibition Selleslags Unpacks.

The exhibition shows the diversity of Rik and Herman Selleslags’ work: from assignments for HUMO, family albums and product photography for Grand Bazar to street photography, Jewish weddings, the 1943 winter and the 1953 floods. Less iconic and lesser-known images by Herman Selleslags were also unearthed from the archive boxes: pictures of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and of his friend the actor Julien Schoenaerts. FOMU is offering its public a first and behind-the-scenes glimpse of the richness of this acquisition.

Curators: Tamara Berghmans and Joachim Naudts




Alec Soth - Gathered Leaves
17.02.2017 - 04.06.2017

FOMU is bringing the work of renowned Magnum photographer Alec Soth (US, °1969) to Belgium for the first time with the exhibition Gathered Leaves. This retrospective draws from four critical series from his oeuvre: Sleeping by the Mississippi (2004), Niagara (2006), Broken Manual (2010) and Songbook (2014).

Alec Soth is known for his lyrical approach to documentary photography. His work is based on a fascination with the vastness of America, recalling Robert Frank, Stephen Shore and Jack Kerouac.

“Our vision of America is so shaped by television and movies. All we see are Hollywood starlets and New York cops. We sometimes forget that there are whole other lives being lived in the middle of America. And some of these lives are really inspiring.”
(Alec Soth, email interview with Aaron Schuman, 2 August 2004)

Alec Soth lives in Minnesota and is an artist, photo journalist, blogger, publisher, Instagrammer and teacher. His boundless energy and distinguished position in the international art world makes him a major influence on the younger generation of visual artists. FOMU’s presentation of his work depicts the evolution of his career and shows how important the role of the photobook was to his success. 

Gathered Leaves is an exhibition by Media Space / Science Museum, London.


Curator: Kate Bush 

28.10.2017 - 04.06.2017

For seven months, the Braakland (Fallow Fields) project transforms the top floor of FOMU into an experimental workspace for photography. The diversity of the photographic medium will thereby be the prime objective.

Braakland is an open festival that prioritises the dialogue between artists and the public. We will be programming a range of activities alongside the work of talented photographers from home and abroad. The exhibition hall will be divided into three different spaces of which each, at their own pace, is filled with both short- as long-term projects. With challenging exhibitions, artist talks, debates, one-night events, portfolio viewings, screenings and dozens of collaborations, Braakland is a celebration of the diversity of photography.

Alongside planned exhibitions and projects, a large part of the programme will be left empty. Therefore FOMU is launching a “museum takeover” and putting out an open call to anyone with a passion for photography to submit their project to the museum! More information about the submission of your project can be found here.

Curators: Rein Deslé & Joachim Naudts