Jesse van Winden

Jesse van Winden is an arts organiser and producer based in Brussels. He works as the curator-coordinator of Jubilee. He’s the editor of Caveat Emptor, Jubilee’s collective research trajectory about more sustainable and balanced ways of working in the art world, and the co-initiator of Tracks, the smartphone app for audio walks.

He’s a cofounder of the Brussels Artist-run Network, in 2020 starting to bring together Brussels artists and art workers, for meeting, exchanging information and for knowledge transfer, irrespective of language background. There is now contact between 109 Brussels collectives, spaces and initiatives, plus countless individuals. Until now, the Brussels Artist-run Network has been relatively invisible to the public. The network is constantly growing and exists through personal contact, a newsletter, a telegram group and, of course, diverse activities. It builds a coalition to defend shared values: affordable and accessible space for work and presentation, defying real estate speculation, fighting against -isms and for solidarity, informing governments about the realities of working as an artist, pressing on social policy making for the arts, etc.

As an occasional curator, performer and poster-paster, he believes in the potential of art as an alternative mode of informing and transforming. Recent projects and collaborations include the following.

Our Fluid Territories (2022), a group exhibition with overlapping film projections, installations, performances and two-dimensional works dealing with the transition from socialism to capitalism in Central and Eastern Europe – uprooting and rerouting official as well as subjective identities. The constellation of works can be described as portraits of people, cities and systems – in whose interstices dialogues can unfold among everyone present. The exhibition brought together the work of 8 artists with a background of migration but at home in Brussels. The venue was Meyboom Artist-run Spaces (home of Jubilee’s office), an off space whose housing, a former bank office from 1992, doubles as a materialisation of the marginalised capitalism that haunts some of the practices on view. The exhibition is co-curated by all artists involved. Initiative and text by Jesse van Winden.

A Spectre is Haunting the Building (2022-23) is a site-specific lecture-performance. Developed on the occasion of Our Fluid Territories, the building in and around which the exhibition took place is the main character in this performative reading. Anchored in its local history, it is narrated as a personification – or materialization – of a global history of capitalism up until its current semiocapitalist guise. As an overture, a version of the preamble to the Communist Manifesto, rewritten for capitalism, is sung by Anya Kozachenko. The young Ukrainian performer who recently fled the war and is building a new future in Brussels is accompanied on cello by François Meulemans, a young bi-lingual Bruxellois.
In 2022, the work opened each evening programme of Our Fluid Territories. In 2023, it was adapted as a sound work for Radio Elsewheres (Bihać, Bosnia-Herzegovina). For Jubilee’s Summer School 2023, it was reworked as a participative walking performance. It forms the basis for a potential future sound work of collective research, in collaboration with Jubilee’s Justin Bennett and all of the participants.

Tracer (2023) is an interdisciplinary group project that recontextualizes the colonial performance Changwe Yetu through a painting that was part of its scenography, made by artist Mwenze Kibwanga. Changwe Yetu was composed of dances and musical acts from Rwandan, Congolese and Burundese artists and traveled to several cities in Congo and Belgium between 1956-58. Now, in a reverse travelogue, the group follows the path of Mwenze’s decor back to the African continent, with stops in the form of creative and discursive residencies in Brussels, Antwerp and Lubumbashi, reanimating the set piece with a polyphonic and decolonial perspective. First presentations of the research took place at Wetsi Gallery (Brussels). In 2024, Tracer is part of Unextractable: Sammy Baloji Invites at Kunsthalle Mainz, a group exhibition by Lotte Arndt & Sammy Baloji.
Jesse takes care of the production of the project.

‘Fair Practice, een duurzame dialoog / Fair Practice, un dialogue durable’ is a series of events that unpack and activate State of the Arts’ Fair Kin Arts Almanac (2023). This co-production between State of the Arts and LaFAP opens up the diverse thematics of the almanac to audiences in both language communities. It does so through different formats, but always with artists and other contributors to the almanac taking centre stage.