Newsletter 01 : Show & Tell
24 October 2008
Dear Barbara, Dear Philippe,

Please forward

To the Biennial Board of Trustees and the Biennial General Assembly
To all in the Biennial Team, especially Koen, Carl, Elke & Jan Willem
To all volunteers, and to the team of Vidisquare,


We are very excited that the first edition of Brussels Biennial has opened its doors last weekend. We have especially enjoyed the well-attended preview on Saturday, which in our case and with your consent, could actually last till Sunday morning. We are very pleased that Cabinet Anciaux became a place where people met, sat down for a drink, enjoyed the film and each others company…

What happened last Saturday strengthens us in our conviction that artists can activate spaces with their generosity. We were happy that you all took a moment to join us.

This being said, and please do consider our praise as completely sincere, we also would like to take this opportunity to express some concerns we have regarding the project Brussels Biennial. Consider this a translation of our presentation into the starting point of a discussion, our first newsletter.


From the very beginning we were convinced that Brussels Biennial could become a challenging platform for "The Crying of Potential Estate", our most recent film that incisively questions the crisis of the concept “nation”, and acts out a scaled relation between our era of globalization and the community as utopia. Recent events in politics and economy, creating even more precarious circumstances, make it not only a challenge, but also a necessity to present this work here and now.

Potential Estate is a temporary alliance of artists that questions collective agency through its artistic practice. Collaboration therefore is not limited to the collective practice of the core artists involved. In presenting "The Crying of Potential Estate", as a collaborative effort, linking it simultaneously to its economic and institutional contexts, the film can be read as an attempt to confront the complexity and multi-layered nature of contemporary art practices, incorporated by its institutions, its art critics, artists and art collectors, its mediation to peers and public.

Cabinet Anciaux (Brussels Biennial, 2008) was preceded by Cabinet Jacotot (STUK, 2006), Cabinet Reclus (Netwerk, 2007) and Cabinet Hope (appropriated gallery Koraalberg, 2008).

From the beginning Potential Estate had decided to auto-produce "The Crying of Potential Estate", and to distribute it in collaboration with two independent Potential Estate agents. Given the Brussels Biennial proposed location, a mere projection of the film was simply excluded. It became necessary for us to intervene in a manner that was so extensive that we decided to develop our presence in the Biennial as a new cabinet, the name of which we only revealed just before opening. Cabinet Anciaux once again implemented the open format of a cabinet, allowing for a presentation of our film in a specific environment and its activation as a tool.

Australian’s God’s Eye View
"And while the artists tried to be as geographically accurate as possible, they admitted that parts of the Garden Eden are from Belgium."
Potential Estate presented at the 1st Brussels Biennial, from October 19th 2008 till January 4th 2009. "The biennial represents a first step in a larger project designed as a trans-national endeavour that will unfold in two steps until 2010."

In Cabinet Anciaux, apart from presenting the official première of "The Crying of Potential Estate", we are developing a new project, “The Gift”, through the installment of a "Collective Property Sale", in which we unite 20 persons who want to become a shareholder in our film. Therefore we offer 20 shares of 500 euros. Together they will then offer the public copy of the film as a donation to the village of Belgium, Wisconsin (USA) through the negotiation of a legal contract, which details the rights and obligations of each party involved and implements a double renunciation: that of “property” and that of “belonging to”. So instead of becoming an ending we want to install the distribution of our film as a beginning, and through “The Gift” write a new chapter of our project.

At the opening of Cabinet Anciaux, Potential Estate activated for the first time the space Brussels Biennial had put to our disposal. The whisky bar that we improvised during the opening night had no economic motivation – apart from recuperating part of our production expenses. It rather intended to create a context for people to meet and talk. Without any doubt and proven by its success it was a well-founded decision from our part.

We want to mention that different modes of activation will be initiated throughout the duration of this biennial, in the process activating its first edition. All will be communicated in due time.

In naming our cabinet “Anciaux” we obviously wanted to evoke the name of the Flemish Minister of Culture, Mr. Bert Anciaux. Being its main financial source the Ministry nevertheless felt the need to claim this Biennial openly for its cultural policies by subtitling it “An initiative of the Flemish Community”. Our choice for “Cabinet Anciaux” (a reference to Marie-Adèle Anciaux, a 19th century libertarian educationalist) proposes a counter narrative. We envision a wider scope and a practice that questions the politicized dimension of this Biennial project and its problematic community agenda, which so far most media have acknowledged in obedient silence.

Through our work and our presence we challenge the assigned identity of the Brussels Biennial, symbolically re-appropriating it by this doubling of names: two identical names, ultimately signifying that there is only difference and singularity. The identical only exists as a fantasy, or in guise of the ever-returning trap set by language too poor to express a complex reality. We have chosen these words because we realize that only the mode of the fabulist can break the order of language itself. Consider Cabinet Anciaux a metonymical figure. Our choice of words in “Cabinet Anciaux” is our way of refusing the ‘culturalisation’ of the artist. We are all part of what is multiple and evolving. There is no proper or original. The politics of sameness, and its accompanying assignation of identity, is not politics but police. "La police veut en effet des noms exacts, qui marquent l’assignation des gens à leur place et à leur travail. La politique, elle est affaire de noms "impropres", de misnomers qui articulent une faille et manifestent un tort". (Jacques Rancière, Aux bords du politique, La fabrique-Ed./ Gallimard, Folio essais, 1998)

In our opinion art will always side with the exception and not with the rule of culture. Artists are not cultural ambassadors but simply individuals who quite on the contrary aim to reveal each community consensus as a construction, and thus as proliferating so-called common but actually untenable identities.

We see Potential Estate as a refusal of a culture of renouncement. It is our tool for producing our own political ‘subjectivation’, a reflection and production of our longings, a manifestation of our disagreements. We are too conscious of the logic of representation to abandon our individual potential to politicians.

Dear Barbara, Dear Philippe,

From the very beginning we were convinced that Brussels Biennial could become a challenging platform. This is why we have accepted your invitation to be part of this first Brussels Biennial. We consider it a relevant context from which to communicate our worldly concerns. We regret that at this moment in doing so we not necessarily express the same priorities as you do. Hopefully the future of this Biennial leaves some room for change.

Looking forward to your reaction(s) , we remain

Yours Sincerely,

Potential Estate

For public reaction, please send us a mail at

Other articles in this chapter

"The Crying Of Potential Estate" DVD - synopsis - Draft for the synopsis (french version) to be published on the back of the DVD.
The road* - «In our eyes, a car club is an organization of friends ! A brotherhood ! A union of hard working blue collar laborers just building their rides with what they got and willing to help build each other cars, not buy them built!»
Rascals Car Club, 2001
Current roadmap of empowerment - Mapping us, time as neighbourhood, positions and statistics.
Collective Property Sale - A Gift : a transatlantic journey
Press Release - POTENTIAL ESTATE invites you to CABINET ANCIAUX presented at the 1st Brussels Biennial, Postal Sorting Center – Midi/Zuid Station.
The distribution of The Crying of Potential Estate (Blank Version) - Potential Estate announces the distribution of The Crying of Potential Estate (Blank Version), a film of murder, money and multiplicity.

The Potential Estate website • • Confirm your interest here!