© Vincent Meessen, Ultramarine, 2018, Video HR, colour, surround sound, video still.
© Vincent Meessen, Ultramarine, 2018, Video HR, colour, surround sound, video still
Born in 1971 in Baltimore (USA), he lives and works in Brussels.
Thanks to the 2016 edition of le Printemps de septembre Vincent Meessen introduced Afro-American poet Kain The Poet to Toulouse. We meet with him again this year with Ultramarine, a filmic, musical and textile installation.
Despite having been neglected by history, Kain The Poet is among the illustrious founders of spoken word who were, in the wake of the Black Arts Movement – the cultural movement stemming from Black Power in the USA – at the origin of hip-hop. Ultramarine, a visual and polyphonic score about « exile blues » , is presented for the first time at the Musée Saint-Raymond on the occasion of the 2018 edition of the festival.
As a result of a creative dialogue between the artist born in the US in 1971 and Kain, author of the album Blue Guerilla that came out a year before, the film originates in the colour blue whose chromatic, historic and discursive tones are set out – ultramarine blue from overseas, the pastel and indigo trade but also colonialism, slavery and the blues of exile. Rendered in words by Kain, voiced in music by drummer Lander Gyselinck, and spatialised in collaboration with textile designer Diane Steverlynck, the film refers to the travelling troubadour tradition and the pastel trade that made Toulouse's wealth. It pairs treasures from the region's archives and museum collections with stage props that Kain has surrounded himself with since his exile to Amsterdam in the 1980's – a suitcase, a voodoo doll, a toy piano etc. dialogue with an automaton, Albi's mappa mundi, a blue penitent's tunic or apocalyptic frescoes.
Disrupting the Eurocentric written logic of historiography as well as that of museum classifications, Ultramarine sets a constellation of objects moving and requires them to color History. The immersive experience of colour, a living, textured, spectral and polymorphic substance is here rendered inseparable from its troubling political component and from cinema as magical practice.
In 2015 Vincent Meessen represented Belgium in the 56th Venice Biennale with Personne et les autres. He recently had an exhibition at the WIELS in Brussels (2016), at the Kunsthalle Basel (2015), at the Taipei Biennale (2016), at the Centre Georges-Pompidou (2018) and has presented his films at the International Film Festival of Rotterdam (2016), at the Lincoln Center in New York (2016) and at the MMCA in Seoul (2016). He is one of the founders of Jubilee, an artistic research and production platform and is developing a publication project named Prospectus, whose fourth volume The Other Country/L'autre pays was published by WIELS/Sternberg Press in 2018.