The Belgian Pavilion is proud to present “Mondo Cane” at the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. The show is the work of artists Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys and curator Anne-Claire Schmitz. “Mondo Cane” centers on a look at society through a lens of marginalization and reality.
Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys combine their aesthetic of depicting modern society’s psychotic elements, as something both loved and loathed. Their work portrays reality as a type of fiction that counters rawness against the status quo.
“Mondo Cane” catches its audience off guard, drawing them into the tradition of seeing splendor within the Belgian Pavilion’s walls, only to shock them with their juxtaposition of beauty and ugliness.
“Mondo Cane” transforms the Belgian Pavilion into a folkloric display of the human figure via twenty dolls. Steel bars and pastoral illustrations surround these automated dolls. The dolls appear awkward and odd – shell-like versions of ashen, frightened humans.
The central exhibit has the dolls portraying tradespeople and artisans, while the side rooms display a sharp contrast of zombies, louts, poets, psychotics, the insane, and those that live in the cracks of society. These two groups exist in parallel but without awareness of the other. Surrounded by melancholic cries and songs, the dolls come to life with sounds of the visitors’ movements through the use of a motion detector.
Harald Thys and Jos de Gruyter created the dolls’ heads as a resemblance of real people that have appeared in their past works. While their dolls appear to be out of touch with modernity, they demonstrate the artists’ critique on reality.
The exhibition presents an old European experience and anthropological sentiment that captures the viewer with its glimpse into a world seeking solace from a marginalized, sometimes gruesome, culture.
“Mondo Cane,” running through November 24, 2019, is a must-see for art lovers and those who can appreciate the commentary on the unpleasant co-existence of two groups.