November 2021

False Flag at Arkeologi Museoa Bilbao

The Archaeological Museum of Bilbao and ANTespacio present “False Flag”, an exhibition with new work by the artists Iratxe Jaio and Klaas van Gorkum.

Point of departure for this exhibition is “Le Drapeau Noir” (Black Flag), a relatively unknown painting by the Belgian surrealist René Magritte, which the artists came across during their research on art related to the Spanish Civil War. Produced in 1937, the canvas is said to have been inspired by the bombing of Gernika. It features a number of futuristic airplanes ominously hanging above the horizon. Like props from a science fiction movie, they seem to foreshadow the drones and satellites that circle our planet today, pointing towards a fundamental aspect of this historical moment: the way technological progress in aviation would forever alter humankind’s relation to territory.

“False Flag” combines three-dimensional models of the airplanes, sound and video with a selection of artefacts from the collection of the museum, in order to create a diorama of the Basque mountain landscape.

But the result is not a faithful depiction of historical scenery. Jaio and van Gorkum’s incursion into the Archaeology Museum embraces the incongruencies and anachronisms of Magritte’s painting, which they consider to be a deviation from the historical canon in which that other painting, Picasso's Guernica, plays a central role. From the margins, Magritte’s flying machines serve as vehicles for an unorthodox reflection on modernity, and on the role art plays in the collective imagination of historical memory.

The exhibition opens on the 19th of November, at 18:00, and will run until the 20th of December 2021.

Acknowledgments: Laura Díez García, Ting Fung Cheung, Iñaki van Gorkum Jaio, Josetxo Jaio, Oihane Sánchez Duro, Liben Svaart and Iker Vázquez.

With the support of Eremuak, Bilbao Aurrera and the Mondriaan Foundation.