Friday, December 14, 2012

Sorry we're closed

Sandwiched between Brussels' Sablon area, the Great Synagogue and the Beaux-Arts Museum complex, “Sorry We’re Closed”, isn't a traditional art gallery. Opened in April 2005 by Sébastien & Rodolphe Janssen, it’s a project room, a white cube (350 x 350 x 350 cm), an ideal blank canvas set up to welcome all kinds of installations and permutations, inviting passers-by to take a peak, even at the darkest hours of night when the neighborhood seems empty. 

Sean Landers.
Various artists exhibit their work for about a month and represent a good mix of local and international talent, all with unusual, contemporary voices. From November 8th to December 21th, it's Sean Landers turn. Coming from New York, he is best known for using his personal experience in his diverse work, so that each painting is sort of a self-portrait:
"Through the use of painting, sculpture, photography, drawing, writing, video and audio, regardless of the medium he chooses, he reveals the process of artistic creation through humor and confession, gravity and pathos. He blurs the lines between fact and fiction, reality and fantasy, sincerity and insincerity, while presenting a portrait of the artist’s consciousness. The twin strategies of personal material and formal multiplicity allow him to infiltrate his viewers’ consciousness with raw truths about contemporary society, and the art world in particular, frankly and fearlessly. A collateral effect is the viewers’ identification with the artist, which allows for a deeper understanding of themselves and their humanity."
His painting of a moose with a Scottish tartan instead of his fur is rather funny! Is the choice of this lonely animal supposed to reflect the author's feelings?

Since 2008, they opened the Gallery Rodolphe Janssen. This an exhibition space that allows the artist who invests the white cube to extend his/her exhibition. As Sean Landers does it until December 21th, so it's very good opportunity to discover worldwide artists, here in Brussels!

Rue de la Régence 65A

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Inside fancy Brussels: Finger-food and violin concert

Every year, the German state North Rhine-Westphalia organizes the Förderpreis (prize for young artists — under 35) since 1957. The laureate in the Music category (among painting, film, architecture, poetry, media art, and theater) for 2012, is Christina Brabetz, an 18 year old violinist. Not surprising for the winner of the TONALi 2010 Grand Prix of Hamburg. The Landesvertretung Nordrhein-Westfalen (in German: representative office of North Rhine-Westphalia) at the European Union cordially invited some important people — read parliamentarians, representatives, NGOs or... their lucky interns — to a festive violin concert. It took place yesterday in the Theater de Vaudeville (downtown Brussels).

I was among the few non-German (speaking) persons there.

This kind of events is perfect for interns (regardless your interests: social, law, politics, etc.) to meet key persons and possibly make contact with organizations. You better come equipped and ready: suit-up (tie mandatory), bring your cartes de visite, and don't come with an empty stomach or you'll savagely jump on the ladies with the food tray. And that's rude!

Seriously, interns usually only stay between 3 to 6 months in an organization in Brussels. But what's next? Most NGOs don't have the fundings to hire them. That's why it's critical to mingle with important people dressed-up with ties. To keep you up at your highest level of social skills, there are these bottles of Champagne rosée and plenty of delicious finger-foods everywhere. I must have had like 20 of them (snacks)!

The concert itself was great! Christina felt like inspired when she was playing the violin. The marvelous theater created a cozy atmosphere in which the public intimately listened to the artist (joined by the pianist Christian Köln on the Steinway & Sons instrument) interpreting Tartini, Beethoven, Brahms & Saint-Saëns for 90mn. I'm sure my senior neighbor didn't mean to be offensive when he fell asleep. As someone said that night: 
"In Brussels, you become fat, lazzy, and unthanksful because of getting use to be served everything on a silver plate".
Anyway, really good music! The party continued with wines of the two last colors. Yet, invitees appeared rather hungry as they threw themselves towards the food. These cheese-balls were worth a fight though. A chilled atmosphere reigned until the end of this evening of leisure. Contacts have been made, lunchs have been booked, invitations sent over e-mail, interns got free food/drink; everybody got their own objectives reached.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Complain about it!

How many times have you ever heard someone complain about an advertising campaign, whether it is in the metro, in the newspaper, on TV, or whereverelse? Me, a lot. When advertisers don't respect Consumer Sovereignty (in terms of vulnerability, information and choice), the advert could be shocking for ethical reasons (stereotype, vulnerable target group, controversial image, offensive ad, playing with people's fear, misleading, manipulation, false promises, wrong information, etc.). Let me tell you what Belgians can do:

Complain about it
to the Jury of advertising ethics (in French: the Jury d'Ethique Publicitaire - JEP) in Brussels, Belgium. This self-regulating organ (advertising and marketing self-regulation is a system by which the advertising, marketing, agency and media industry set voluntary rules and standards of practice that go beyond their legal obligations) of the Belgian advertising sector was created in 1974 by the Advertising council (Conseil de la Publicité) whose members are advertisers, communication agencies and media.
"To get the customers' trust, the ad must be healthy and responsible". JEP 

The JEP is actually responsible for reviewing advertising messages in the medias, so that they comply with the rules of advertising ethics, which are based on laws and self-regulatory codes. It has a twofold mission:
  1. It investigates complaints from the customers themselves (us) filled on their website or by postal mail, and not from companies or organizations with commercial purposes.
  2. It deals with requests for advice which are freely submitted by advertisers, communication agencies and media.

The  Commission on Marketing and Advertising from the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), which meets twice a year and examines major marketing and advertising related policy issues introduced a Code of Advertising and Marketing Communication Practice in 1937. This self-regulation has served as the foundation and cornerstone for the codes of most self-regulatory systems around the world. It also promotes high standards of ethics in marketing, which something I think is important to regulate. Unfortunately, it seems quite hard to keep up with new practices.

In countries with self-regulatory systems, e.g. the JEP in Belgium, the public can complain about an offensive ad. It is the only thing one can do to have it banned of the streets for good ;)

However, some companies use shocking ads to make people react. And it works! I'd say that advertising and marketing communications can be used to something else than making profits with false arguments.