by Maïte Álvarez

shown in Gruuthusemuseum, Brugge
April 2021


Through writing and by manipulating a collection of personal objects in playful, seductive, possessive ways, Álvarez reconstructs the physical relationship Jeanne Walschot had with her own collection of African artefacts. Through choreographies of touches, Álvarez unfolds the multiple, potential lives of objects that constitute collections, both in private and public contexts. Álvarez engages with a tactile, almost technical, exploration of the objects, of their original and possible usages. By carrying and displaying objects, Álvares creates a fictional world map, explicitly referring to the history of exportation/exploitation of so-called 'exotic' artefacts that is one of the faces of Western colonisation.

With the help of technology, Álvarez constantly stages her own image and the image she wants to give of her objects. The dichotomy between the stillness and the partiality of what is shown on the screen and the richness of the whole choreography experience underlines the implicit power of 'framing'.

That power lies as well in the construction of grand, yet partial, narratives created by institutional spaces and, among them, museums. This resonates with Jeanne Walschot’s use of photography as a way to construct her public visual identity and the more intimate narration of her own subjectivity too.

‘La Collectionneuse’ aims to symbolically and temporarily complement Gruuthusemuseum collections, especially the 17th and 18th centuries, that include ‘exotic’ artefacts with performative speculation on Jeanne Walschot, a problematic character which is easy to identify with, especially for a Western white audience.