Artists: Bank, Aline Bouvy & John Gillis, Audrey Cottin, Lucile Desamory, Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys, Rachel Koolen, Chris Lecler, Nathaniel Mellors, Shelly Nadashi, James Richards, Anna Solal
Venue: The Ister, Brussels
Exhibition Title: The Long Leash
Date: March 16 – March 29, 2013
Full gallery of images, video, press release and link available after the jump.
Jos De Gruyter & Harald Thys, excerpt from The Deserter, 1997. Courtesy the artists and Galerie Micheline Szwajcer.
Nathaniel Mellors, Seven Ages of Britain Teaser, 2010. Courtesy the artist; Matt’s Gallery, London; MONITOR, Rome; and Galerie Diana Stigter, Amsterdam.
James Richards, loop from Not blacking out just turning the lights off, 2011. Courtesy the artist; Cabinet, London; and Rodeo, Istanbul.
Shelly Nadashi, excerpt from Medium, 2012. Courtesy the artist.
Images courtesy of The Ister, Brussels.
“In order to encourage openness we had to be secret.”
Tom Braden, first chief of the CIA’s International Organisations Division in an interview with Frances Stonor Saunders, The Independent, 22 October 1995
“On m’a introduit dans une place et puis on m’a déshabillé et je suis resté en chemise et en caleçon: je ne sais pas si l’effet était beau, mais c’était la situation.”
Paul Vanden Boeynants dans sa conférence de presse du 15 février 1989
The Ister is pleased to announce “The Long Leash”, an exhibition with Bank, Aline Bouvy & John Gillis, Audrey Cottin, Lucile Desamory, Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys, Rachel Koolen, Chris Lecler, Nathaniel Mellors, Shelly Nadashi, James Richards, Anna Solal.
“The Long Leash” envisages itself as drifting between two events: A press conference by former Belgian Prime Minister and leader of the PSC-CVP party Paul Vanden Boeyants, in which he describes the peculiar circumstances of his kidnapping in 1989 by a fake extremist political group (the self-proclaimed ‘Socialist Revolutionary Squad’); and comments made by former head of the CIA Tom Braden, in which he reveals the existence of a secret cultural propaganda programme dubbed ‘the Long Leash’, implemented during the Cold War era as a strategy to culturally usurp the Soviet Union and expose their incapability to produce ‘high’ art.
The absurd tone that arises from both events brings this exhibition to life. In Braden’s case, his narrative worthy of a classic CIA conspiracy becomes esoteric and unreasonable – however grounded in fact – while Vanden Boyenants’ televised soliloquy transforms a personal experience into an uncanny event through which reality is derided and exposed via pomp, self- derision, and humour.
The exhibited works take the on the framework of a cockamamie reality, holding both truth and gross ambiguity. In effect, each work becomes its own myth.
The original video documentation of Vanden Boyenants’ press conference will be on view in the exhibition along with a printed copy of the article by Frances Stonor Saunders from which the words of Tom Braden are taken out: “Modern Art was CIA weapon”, published in The Independent of Sunday the 22nd of October, 1995.