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Mechelsesteenweg 8, 1st floor

In various countries and segments of society, over the last decades, there have been positive developments in the field of equality. Yet, recent activities show how fragile these established rights are: the scaling back of abortion laws in parts of the US, the populist discourse that labels sexism, racism, Islamophobia and heteronormativity as mere "common sense," or closer to home, the crisis in childcare that mainly affects women and mothers. It illustrates the importance of an ongoing battle for equal rights, since these rights can quickly be lost again. In addition, these positive developments do not exclude certain structural inequalities. Often, these anchored structures remain, in different shapes and on different levels, unnoticed by people at large. Continuous vigilance for equality is a necessity. With work by eight female artists, FINIS TERRAE wants to look at the boundaries in our contemporary society. Which boundaries do we shift, and which boundaries do we overstep? This dialogue takes place in an empty apartment, stripped of its history and function, as the setting for a new start. 

Room 1

Upon entering, one immediately encounters All languages speak (2019-2022) by Pélagie Gbaguidi (°1965, Dakar), an embroidery which she started in 2019 during her residency in Morocco and Lubumbashi, and which she recently finished in her studio. The central figure, a woman who seems to be held down, is squeezed between the walls. Yet this character shows resilience and courage. The materials used, such as the flour sack, refer to the artist’s concerns regarding the humanitarian consequences of global emergencies such as the climate crisis or food scarcity. 

Personal experiences and/or trauma also play a role in the works of Sam Druant, Lisa Ijeoma and Nina Van Denbempt.

I bike home / It's late, it's dark / There is no one else here / Or? / No that was nothing / … These words introduce the start of a poem written by Sam Druant (°1997, Antwerp) to accompany the monumental work I will hunt you (2022). A woman, cycling home, with eyes hidden in the darkness closely following her every move, is contrasted with a fictional figure chasing away the danger. The scene (unfortunately) symbolizes a problem – feeling unsafe in the public space – that feels very recognizable. In her oeuvre, the artist cleverly and ironically interweaves her own experiences with fictional elements. By planting seeds of narrativity she consistently re-approaches the question of why these binary hierarchical oppositions are still so persistent?  

Through a slow process of patchwork, Lisa Ijeoma (°1997, Bruges) connects personal experiences with an intergenerational trauma of historical stereotyping, objectification and exploitation of people of color. In Please talk softly (2022), a night scene with a sleeping woman seems peaceful at first sight - but contrasting with the intimacy of the bedroom, one feels "the threat and the greediness of the night". It is a recurring element in the oeuvre of the young artist to choose a nocturnal setting or a decontextualized moment before/after a traumatic event. The work is situated in an investigation of the artist into sleep, experience of reality and how art approaches these issues. Sleep is crucial for the mental and physical recovery of the human body. Research has shown that economic hardship, physically demanding jobs, and the stress of racism and sexism causes people of color and uprooted persons to have more unhealthy sleep cycles.  

Please talk softly forms a beautiful dialogue with the sleeping woman in Beside Ourselves (2022) by Stevie Dix (°1990, Genk). Dix reflects on the duality inside – outside. Being at home can feel safe, but equally oppressive. Being outdoors can feel free, but also unprotected. It is a daily struggle of feelings that may seem banal, yet they are universally recognizable. Through the pale color of the skin and the dark clothing there is a connotation with death, or the possible longing for it. It gives the work a double meaning, but also provides material for dialogue on a subject that is still very much a taboo in our current society. 

Finally, Matrescence Diptych (2022) by Nina Van Denbempt (°1989, Halle) shows a strong dialogue between two beautiful, but burned-out mother figures. The character in Empty Vessel Portrait – a self-portrait of the artist after her recent childbirth – looks at mother earth in WE R (SO) SORRY MADRE TIERRA. On the back of the painting, the artist attached personal physical elements including a piece of the umbilical cord, bloodied underwear and cut nails kept during pregnancy.

Through her work, Van Denbempt shows how we take both mothers in general and our primal mother, The Earth, for granted. For example, the 'process of becoming a mother' (matrescence) is still heavily underestimated or underexposed in science and the public debate. In addition, we respond to the good care and potential of Mother Earth with violent actions such as pollution or deforestation. The Earth gives, and we take, at an ever-increasing rate. The artist reflects on a matriarchal system as the ultimate answer, Buddha as a woman, with Eve as the beginning of humanity, and a society that focuses on a community rather than the individual.