The encounter between the Belgian artist James Ensor – the painter of crowds and masks – and the German filmmaker and writer Alexander Kluge is no matter of chance. The first, wholly a man of the nineteenth century, pursued his printmaking practice in order to lend expression to his nervous, sarcastic and fantastical vision. The second casts a more benevolent gaze across the disasters of the twentieth century, which he calls the “dark century”, and which he infiltrates with an audio-visual and textual oeuvre orientated towards History, experience and emotion. Both artists straddle different epochs, dark centuries, in order to tell us a story of our shadowy modernity with shades of the grotesque.
The catalogue of the exhibition James Ensor & Alexander Kluge: Dark Centuries, presented at the Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles, is born of the fertile dialogue between two prolific artistic universes. Texts by Julia Marchand, curator of the exhibition, Alexander Kluge, Paul B. Preciado, Xavier Tricot, Michel Draguet and Maxime Boidy offer us a unique and contemporary reading of the interstices they explore.