The culture of monuments is based on consensus. Someone has rendered a service to society that is important enough for the person in question to be granted a permanent place, preferably in a prominent spot, so that many people will encounter it on a daily basis. Generally, the statue is designed in a majestic, but serious style, mounted on a pedestal that lends the entire work a certain sacral quality. Guillaume Bijl has changed this standard representation by surrealistically replacing the person with a dog. This twist calls into question the seriousness of the scene, to a certain extent of course, and causes the viewer to wonder whether it is truly a homage or a work of art.
This installation is in line with Bijl’s oeuvre, which seeks to engage in an ‘archaeology of our society'. He copies objects from the real world in a tragicomic manner, forcing us to stop and think about our own culture. This work is part of a series that Bijl named Sorry, absurd compositions that are an exception to his generally realistic style. He apologizes for that faux-pas with 'sorry', a word that is so easily used in all manner of circumstances. The work makes us stop and think about the fact that the legitimacy of monuments is anything but permanent. Although monuments succeed in paying lasting tribute to a person, statues are always subject to the zeitgeist. There is always the chance that so-called heroic deeds can, over the course of time, come to be seen in a different light.
Guillaume Bijl has recently had solo exhibitions at SMAK Ghent (2008), Wiener Secession, Vienna, Austria (1993) and the New Museum, New York, United States (1989). He participated in group exhibitions including Manifesta 11, Zürich, Switzerland (2016), Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul, Turkey (2013), Lyon Biennale, Lyon, France (2011), Münster Skulptur Projekte, Münster, Germany (2007) and Documenta IX, Kassel, Germany (1992). He was one of the artists who represented Belgium at the Belgian pavilion of the Venice Art Biennale in 1988.
Leopoldpark, Leopold II-laan, Oostende
- Tram stop: Oostende Marie-Joséplein
- Cycling node: 74
- Walking node: 65