Posthumous Identity

Marie-Laure Fleisch Gallery, Bruxelles


Searching for ways to understand contemporary human dynamics, the artist studies societies, social structures and individual perceptions of the world around us, which are often masked by a larger narrative. As his works reflect the area and population where he exhibits, Tibaldi sees his meticulously thought-through exhibitions as post- projects, which are only made possible by a historical view of a given locality. He is also aware that the life of a project, a society, or an artwork is a constantly evolving entity which cannot be predicted and is submitted to subjective points of view. 

Principally interested in perception, the artist’s work is intrinsically linked to the context where it is shown. Each person creates their own perception of reality and uses it to build a universe around them. The personal worlds of a city’s inhabitants can thus reveal quite a bit about its dynamics. Tibaldi has taken the city of Brussels as both the conceptual and the material core for the works on view. Before creating an artwork, the artist does a research into the history of the place where the works will be exhibited. This also involves contacting the city’s current inhabitants, who are invited to contribute images which, for them, represent the city they live in. These photographs are then combined with images taken from promotional materials, historical books, maps, and other institutional supports. Combined, the selection of these elements reveals various ways of seeing Brussels, as well as the artist’s own choices.

Rather than working with classical materials associated with the noble tradition of creating artworks, Tibaldi works with substances which are a part of everyday contemporary life. For this exhibition, he has created a series of new works connected to the ways Brussels can be perceived. All parts of these works were sourced in Brussels, either at flea markets or at second-hand shops. These supports, which include tables, napkins, books, headboards, and maps, provide the context for the interpretation of the images which are laid on top of them. These motifs are created by the addition of photographs sent to the artist by citizens, combined with institutional reproductions and historical imagery. The totality is then tied together by white paint, a colour generally associated with absence, which is used by Tibaldi to organize, connect, and harmonize the various aspects of the work. The paint serves both to “carve” the photographs, reducing the visual material in them to arrive at their essence, and to add art nouveau decorations, which unify all of the works.

Inspired by Parag Khanna’s ideas about an ideal government, Tibaldi imagines the possibilities of image-making in a post-democratic era. Using the same percentages that Khanna has theorized for the perfect combination of democratic, technocratic and meritocratic systems, the artist chooses the imagery included in his works according to a scientific process. Each aspect of the artwork is charged with a personal history, reminding us that each political action has consequences on everyday citizens. In reaction to the populist tendencies sweeping Europe, with Brussels being the political capital, Eugenio Tibaldi insists on the necessity of finding new paths to construct identities and to perceive the places we live in.