Leisure, Discipline and Punishment:
an introduction by the curator
The 6th edition of Contour, Biennial of Moving Image, will take place at four main exhibition venues in Mechelen: the prison, the KV Mechelen stadium, the historical church of Our Lady-across-the-Dyle and the Court of Busleyden.
These venues have been used as a source of inspiration, as a convergence point of ideas on selecting artists and works and for thinking about the exhibition and public space in general. The venues are all in use, functioning as public or semi-public buildings in the urban centre of Mechelen and its surroundings.
Prisons, stadiums, churches and museums are common in most large cities and serve very specific purposes in society. Despite the very different use of these institutions, the common denominator can be boiled down to the rules and regulations that define them. Each building has its participants and its daily, weekly and monthly uses. Within these institutions there are people who implement a set of rules and regulations, which empower some and make others feel powerless. Whether it’s within fan culture, religious ceremonies or among groups of prisoners, social codes and behavioural patterns exist, consisting of songs, rituals and daily routines. As such, these different types of spaces already have a built-in audience.
In this exhibition, the church, the prison and the stadium can be seen as a connected trinity. The three words of the exhibition title, Leisure, Discipline and Punishment, are also connected, but not to any of the specific venues. Rather, the theme Leisure, Discipline and Punishment is an attempt to tap into these institutions, to examine their possibilities, restraints, social function and relations within society. How do institutional buildings affect our daily lives and behaviours? How do you experience these buildings? What do they mean for you?
The majority of the artists have been invited to visit the venues in Mechelen, and with the three words in mind, select, present or produce works that reflect their experiences and thoughts in relation to the subject of the exhibition. Often, the artists have collaborated with and used the venues as partners in their works. Some works appear as investigations of local histories, events and politics in Mechelen, while other works display general narratives and even abstract interpretations of the thoughts behind Leisure, Discipline and Punishment.
I would like to thank the artists, writers and people of Mechelen for their involvement and for making this exhibition possible.