Olivia Barabanchuk reviews "EURASIA – A Landscape of Mutability”, at the Museum of Modern Art, Antwerp
“EURASIA – A Landscape of Mutability”, an exhibit in the Museum of Modern Art in Antwerp, Belgium, takes Eurasia, the largest continental landmass in the world, and transforms it into a heavily concentrated home for the usually hidden narrative of communities and cultures of this supercontinent. Despite the growing perceptions of concrete borders that separate us, this exhibit blurs the lines between these countries- it shows the viewer of the almost symbiotic relationship that Eurasian countries have with each other, and how despite the differences in culture, they all inhabit the same land. With Western countries being the dominant focus of the world, Eurasia has been largely overlooked, and is rarely a focal point media-wise, which is why this exhibit is so refreshing to see, especially with the narratives of Eurasian natives depicting their own perspectives of what Eurasia is to them.
Eurasia has been largely overlooked, and is rarely a focal point media-wise.
Housing a multitude of cultures, these art displays are placed in a long grey floored room with irregular white walls that curve and hide hidden crevices and rooms for art viewers to enter and explore. The art installations are spotted around the second level almost like destinations or pinpricks on a map. Some are in large well-lit areas such as Ieva Roj?t?’s “Gentle Words, 2021”, an artistic response to the slow death of the Samogitian dialect of the Lithuanian language. The surrealist nature of this piece, pertaining to the apocalyptic looking block letters, reminds the viewer of how aspects of Eurasia are almost “alien” to the Western world that we know dominantly. Others are hidden down corridors and in dark corners of the rooms, such as Gulnara Kasmalieva & Muratbek Djumaliev’s “Trans-Siberian Amazons, 2005”, an art installation depicting the contraband that takes place along the Trans-Siberian railroad. Comprised of transportation bags covering the walls from the floor to the ceiling, two box TVs play video tapes of the railroad and of elderly ladies singing Russian ballads, a testament to one of the hundreds, if not thousands, of ways of life in Eurasia. The exhibition is its own pocket of media, housing several pieces where the western world is purposefully omitted from its television screens and invites the viewers to see a world that isn’t readily available on television screens at home.
The surrealist nature of this piece, pertaining to the apocalyptic looking block letters, reminds the viewer of how aspects of Eurasia are almost “alien” to the Western world that we know dominantly.
Seeing each artist receive a platform for their art to be showcased, each at the forefront of the exhibit, as well as seeing my friends with whom I went to the exhibition with, receiving the recognition and representation of their cultures and heritages was immensely satisfying to say the least. Each instalment invites you to delve into the deeper meaning and find out in which part of Eurasia it is from. After a while you realise how closely related each of the artworks are and how, as you are walking out the door of the whitewashed building and back in to the “Heart of Europe”, do you realise truly how borders meld together and disappear within the vast size of Eurasia.
While the exhibit has currently left MHKA, a 3D scan of the exhibit is available on their website https://www.muhka.be/ .