Ivan Argote Filip Dujardin liggend
Iván Argote


A pair of bronze boots stands on Speelmansrei. They seem to be resting or walking leisurely on the surface of the water. As if they belong to a larger sculpture: has it been dismantled or is it still under construction?


As the title suggests, Who? asks the viewers to speculate on the identity behind this sculptural installation. The work can be seen as a monument in doubt. Its apparent incompleteness and lack of identity grants agency to the viewers. They may imagine that the boots belong to a specific historical figure or they may wish to make up new stories about them. The patina and the historical appearance seem to suggest that they have already been ‘walking’ for quite some time. Who is the work about and what is the story behind its presence-cum-absence? Beyond the question of identity, the work challenges the viewers to question who has the right to be represented in the public space. We live and walk inside the fiction that we call ‘the city’. We read and write about the metropolis, thereby contributing to its narratives. But who is visible? Who has a voice and who has the authority to write these stories?

Ivan Argote enjoys playing with views and expectations. He conceives most of his projects as proposals for what a monument can be. He questions the dominant historical narratives and symbols of power as they manifest themselves in the public space via ephemeral, unauthorised and performative interventions to existing statues or via permanent new installations. They not only grapple with long histories of nation-building and colonial exclusion, but also suggest new visions about who should be included in the registers of our collective memory. Covering statues with ponchos, dismembering them to create generic typologies or filling them with wildflowers, the artist uses fiction, poetry and humor as critical devices for decentering and decolonising the public space.

Who? is part of an on-going and evolving series of sculptures. A corpus of ‘doubt-monuments’ that will materialise in different locations and create new resonances and dissonances.

Portret Ivan Argote Claire Dorn min
© Claire Dorn

Iván Argote (b. 1983, Bogota, CO) was born in Bogotá, Colombia, but lives and works in Paris nowadays. Argote explores public visual language through his artistic practice. With site-specific installations, sculptures and video, he examines our relationship with the public space, its limits and the inclusion and exclusion of various voices.

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