Lingering on a forgotten past

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For the first time, we invited a member of the Different Class community to walk us through an exhibition. Find clinical psychologist Annalise Nwamaka Delbouille talking about Georgian-born artist Andro Wekua at the Art & History Museum in Brussels as part of one of the Europalia’s shows. We sat down with Annalise as they told us about the power art holds, their childhood memories and the feeling of lingering on a forgotten past. 

Could you introduce yourself and tell me a bit more about what you do?

My name is Annalise Nwamaka Delbouille; my pronouns are they/she. I am a certified clinical psychologist and I started out my studies with a bachelor's degree in philosophy. In the meantime, I always used art as a way to express my distrust in the government [laughs] – through making art with friends, through music. I was in a psychedelic rock band; I just loved doing jams. In Leuven, I was a member of the Amnesty International youth group and we did this thing called 'Jamnesty'. Cliché, but I was always interested in the art spaces that try to intertwine political activism with art because they bring people together while addressing important issues. 

When I think of friends going through a tough time right now, art holds the power to connect people with their deepest painful feelings to try to make something useful or something absurd that nobody gets. And yet, it still brings people together.

Art holds the power to connect people with their deepest painful feelings

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You’re our first member we’ve interviewed for our New Master format, what made you want to participate in this walk through the expo with Different Class?

I know of Different Class through friends that lived in Leuven and Brussels. I’ve also known about it before the name change, when it was still Subbacultcha. I just loved how this art community succeeded in creating space for new artists instead of only the famous and renowned ones. You have to start somewhere. You have to create a community of friends you know the work of and that you can collaborate with and I love the way Different Class tries to create that space.

I was always interested in the art spaces that try to intertwine political activism with art

I like visiting expos and going to museums, apart from dancing and apart from doing this with the friend group I already have – and it’s a very different way of meeting possible friends with the same interests. All of the above drew me to saying ‘Hey, I want to visit the next expo.’

What were your thoughts about the artist prior to the expo and did it change after you saw it?

Well before the exhibition, I briefly read the summary about Wekua’s work and how he is a renowned international artist. I was drawn to the fact that the artist had to flee his home country. There have been people protesting all over Belgium against the genocide in Palestine for a very long time now. I saw that there was a lot of police violence in Brussels yesterday, and I was distressed by it since I have friends in Brussels, and I know that when they are not teaching or are not making art, they are occupied by these topics – trying to help as much as they can. I hope that they find shelter in a way, as renowned artists have in other big cities. With Wekua, it’s amazing to see that he is Georgian-born but is now based in Berlin, with exposing his work worldwide. So this provides him a certain degree of freedom.

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And what elements of Wekua’s work resonated the most to you?

I love the representation of the sea in the middle of the exhibition. There are these three works, and by the way they are set up, they draw attention. They look like waves, which in my head represent the sea. I don’t know if Wekua meant it to look like the sea, but it made me nostalgic of my time as a child on the Belgian coast. People think the Flemish coastline is a great mess, but it brings back good memories to me. 

Facing the exhibition, you see this surface in the middle, and you wonder: ‘why are all eyes focused on this small space?’ There's so much more sea on our planet than earth, and so much of that sea we know nothing about. The work reminds me of the openness and unknown aspects of the sea. It triggers all sorts of existential questions. 

I just loved the way that this kind of art community succeeded in highlighting the work of new artists and and creating space for new artists

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Wekua’s work is said to evoke a more melancholic landscape akin to how memories are remembered, which you mentioned being the case for you. What do you think it is about the melancholic or memories that people are drawn to?

I’m reflecting on my student years at the universities now because I wrote countless papers on these topics [laughs]. I did a part of my internship at Clinique de la Borde in the Loire valley of France. The valley is beautiful, there are a lot of castles and one of them is a psychiatric institution. I stayed upstairs with the other interns. And there, I visited this exhibition which had an art installation about melancholia. It was very dark and gloomy with dark drapes in one room. It was strange because when you entered it felt like, ‘oh can I even touch this?’ It invited people to remain silent and wander in their heads. I wrote about that. About how melancholia, in a pathological way, can be interpreted as depression which is very interesting. Like I usually do when writing essays, I always try to link people’s experiences to art exhibitions in my papers.

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It’s like in Melancholia, one of my favourite movies. It’s a dark and intriguing one. Through the way that the camera is set up, it really triggers this idea of melancholia as if it’s something that you strive for. But it’s at the same time this feeling that there is no future at all. There’s a duality here. The way it makes you linger on a forgotten past, that doesn't even exist and of a future that might not exist. A contemporary film that beautifully captures these feeling, is Creatura by Elena Martín Gimen

<div class="editorial-banner"> <div class=“editorial-credits”> @nwamaka__.__ / @europalia <br> europalia.be </div></div>

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