Witte de With presents Monopolis – Antwerp, an exhibition organised in collaboration with three contemporary art centers in Antwerp: MuHKA, Extra City and objectif_exhibitions.

Antwerp and Rotterdam are both port cities, in a manner of speaking within walking distance of each other, sharing the same language and a social and political context that displays close similarities. That context imposes increasingly exacting demands on the production and presentation of culture. Should culture pay due attention to the multiethnicity and multiformity of society, or should it primarily affirm the historic and the local? What place might artistic offerings have in a society that with regard to essential points continues to be a unitary whole, even though we always perceive it as having crumbled, as existing in fragments, and this also being how we usually think about it.

The exhibition Monopolis – Antwerp strives first and foremost to demonstrate artistic engagement. Works of art have a right to be ambiguous and to remain open to a diversity of interpretations. Dissension deserves a place alongside consensus. An even greater number of seats for the popular Vlaams Belang party (‘Flemish Interest’, which strives for Flemish independence and campaigns on an anti-immigration platform) at the next municipal elections might not mean an immediate bombshell, but it could signal the final curtain for that shared, communal space in Antwerp.

Monopolis – Antwerp is the work of three organizations – Extra City, MuHKA en objectif_exhibitions – which, in collaboration with Witte de With, want to show how dialogue and exchange are the fountainhead of an artistic project that is simultaneously socially engaged. The exhibition is a case study about art and the ways in which it embeds itself in the social fabric of Antwerp, not only as a city but also as a metropolis. Though the exhibition presents work by many of the city’s prominent artists, it is not the intention to provide a representative overview of all the developments in Antwerp, and nor is it the intention to provide direct commentary on the political situation. The exhibition’s curators were intent on presenting a broad spectrum of work and the varying alliances within it, which sometimes highlights new possibilities and at other times lays bare limitations.

100 posters

The exhibition is complemented by hundred posters in the city, which sketch a profile of the city by means of moments from the twentieth century. This dynamic picture of Antwerp is the initial impetus for the exhibition.

A free magazine is being published to accompany the exhibition, with texts by Geert Buelens, Vivian Liska, Ramsey Nasr, and Jeroen Olyslaegers.

Debate: September 9, 3.00 pm
On the day of the opening, from 3.00 p.m. to 5.00 p.m., speakers from both cities will take part in a debate about what art can do for the socio-political climate in the two cities.

Opening: 5.30 pm

Performance by Building Transmissions: 7:0) pm

The opening of Monopolis – Antwerp on Friday September 9 will be held within the framework of ‘The World of Witte de With’.

Venue for both events: auditorium, TENT./Witte de With.

—With Thanks To:

Special thanks to September in Rotterdam, the Flemish Community of Belgium, and The city of Antwerp