USA - Houston - Station Museum of Contemporary Art - Welcome to Belgium - Charif Benhelima17/03/2010
March 12 - May 30, 2010
Welcome to Belgium, Charif Benhelima's first major solo exhibition in the United States, displays 58 photographs, besides personal statements, decree definitions and an historic document.
Welcome to Belgium took nine years to be fully completed and resulted in an homonymous book, dealing with the sentiment of being a foreigner. Beginning with the artist's own portrait and ending with one of his mother is an indication of the work's autobiographical nature. In somber black and white, the photographs enunciate, as the research advances, a range from an optimism characteristic of the ingenuous through to the canceling out of the many people who are living clandestinely as a result of the lack of documentation, imprisoned between worlds. The artist distances himself conceptually from the notion of a photo-event: what is documented was less what happened in each image and, rather, the sentiment and the ideas represented, which are not visible and that, in general, one avoids examining and understanding. Moving from one image to another gives the overall photographic work, supported by verbal paratexts, a complexity of meanings, from the personal to the historic, where the ultimate question resides in this feeling of not belonging to or not corresponding to that which a given society appreciates. Showing photographs taken between 1990 and 1999, Welcome to Belgium is an album of Benhelima's own trajectory, a portrait of his process of development as an artist and as a man.
Curators: James Harithas en Alan Schnitger.
Welcome to Belgium is part of the 'FotoFest 2010 Biennial of Photography and Photo-related Arts' and is organized by Ann & James Harithas, Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Houston.
Image: © Charif Benhelima, San DAMIANO #5, Brussels 1997-1998, B&W fiber print, 80 cm x 120 cm / Courtesy of the artist .