Interview

MONU, NOW, AHORA, 现在, الآن

MoMu enrolled eleven young creatives, the MoMu Young Voices, to make a multidisciplinary exhibition MONU, NOW, AHORA, 现在, الآن – which covers topics as gender and sexuality, racism and appropriation, self-expression and intercultural dialogue. Topics that are high on the agendas these days, so we jumped on the train to meet up with four Young Voices and talked about plugging these themes into a show.

Interview by Laura-Andréa Callewaert
Photos by Tatjana Henderieckx, shot in Antwerp

 

What is the main goal of MoMu Young Voices?
Lars Mathijsen: In this social media era, youngsters constantly find information and inspiration online, but it’s getting more difficult to attract young people to visit a museum. MoMu Young Voices is trying to brush off the dusty image of museums and is stepping away from the classical approach; by giving a group of young people a voice; it’s easier for young visitors to connect with this message.

Sarah El Mesaoudi: Our project, MoNu, is all about inclusion. We want everyone to feel welcome and feel the power from all this art forms coming together. MoNu covers – controversial – topics such as racism, gender, appropriation, self-expression, intercultural dialogue – all are heavily discussed today. Our goal is to start a conversation between youngsters that come from different backgrounds or beliefs, everyone should feel included and, despite their differences, be able to build a space of togetherness.

The different tastes within the group were an advantage rather than a burden

Was it easy to prepare this exhibition with eleven people all having different taste levels?
Vincent Van Laeken: The different tastes within the group were an advantage rather than a burden, it gave new insights and made it easier to effectively capture the idea of inclusion. It was an added value to the project. 

Eveline: I think it’s important to embrace and take into account all different taste levels, it made the event more eclectic. It’s also about compromises, our differences unite us in the most complementary ways.

Is the multidisciplinary aspect of the exhibition important to you?
Vincent: Definitely! I think the mix of art forms is what makes it interesting. Every art form used has a connection to our main concept of inclusivity. Furthermore we live in a society that endures a constant stream of stimuli. To keep the attention of an audience for a longer period of time different stimuli are necessary to keep them interested. Since we want to attract a crowd with different interests, multidisciplinarity is a must. 

Do you feel like this all-around approach is an ongoing trend?
Sarah: I hope more museums will pick up on this, and that this ‘trend’ is not only a trend but a change on how the future will be or should be. So people will think more outside their box, not afraid of change and improvement. There is so much talent in Belgium and so much diversity within our youth. I feel that diversity is not visible enough. It’s a shame to think talent of any kind would be wasted. I hope we’ll go forward and work on creating more acknowledgement for everyone. For the ‘minorities’ – as society likes to call them – it’s time to shine, this is us.

I hope we’ll go forward and work on creating more acknowledgement for everyone

How do you feel about the Antwerp art and fashion scene?
Eveline: I feel proud. Proud that our city holds such a great history in regard to fashion, yet I feel like there is room for improvement, for the scene to be less intimidating and feel more accessible. And that is what we’re trying to convey. Break down preconceptions and portray an all-around more all-inclusive uniting vision. Hence the name MoNu as in NOW. 

Lars: There is definitely a big shift happening. Fashion has been taken over by the streets of Antwerp. While magazines and journalists would predict the trends in the past, Antwerp Cool Kids are taking over now. They’re showcasing their looks on the streets and online. Blurring the lines between fashion, art, graphic design and photography. These kids take up the role of influencer, designer, art director and editor all at once. It’s an interesting development that is knocking over old fashioned values from institutions that can’t keep up with the present. The power is with the youth.

Vincent: Antwerp is a vibrant city both art and fashion wise. However, sometimes I have the feeling they operate in two different worlds and should be intertwined more. I hope our multidisciplinarity can inspire other curators to implement this in their own exhibitions and get them inspired to do things differently.

Lars: Yes! I think the art scene in Antwerp is still very old fashioned. If you look at the Netherlands, there’s a lot of cool collaborations between young creatives and art institutions. Even Brussels is picking up on this more. I think the cultural scene in Antwerp really needs to connect more with younger generations. Although organising an exhibition like we did, is still a bit of a classical approach, it could open the door for even more wild and crazy ideas in the future. 

It’s funny that we can now celebrate inclusivity in a setting that had such a different meaning in the past

Why did you go to Bar Chapel?
Lars: The building used to be an old church, which is still visible with old elements showcased. That creates an interesting tension with the works that we’re showcasing. Since the theme of our exhibition is all about inclusion and the Christian church is well-known to exclude big groups of people because of sexuality or race, it’s funny that we can now celebrate inclusivity in a setting that had such a different meaning in the past.

 

MONU, NOW, AHORA, 现在, الآن
A multidisciplinary exhibition by MoMu’s youth crew MoMu Young Voices
5 October, 12:00 – 24:00, Bar Chapel, Antwerp
Free for all.