In several languages, the clichéd phrase ‘Think outside the box’ is printed on several trompe-l’oeil canvases made to look like chalkboards in this show at the non-profit space Établissement d’en Face. Here, artist Filip Gilissen presents a clever installation delving into the visual and verbal platitudes that surround us – whether in advertising, product and interior design or tech. The show resonates with the mainstreaming of ‘creative life’ in an age of co-working spaces and start-up culture. Outside, a bistro table and café-style awning wears the low-brow pun ‘Quelle Fleur Est-il?’; in lieu of an exhibition guide, there are chocolates whose wrappers are printed with details about the exhibition. Inside, Gilissen has renovated the space with laminate flooring and copper lighting. Upstairs, there are sliding oak barn doors engraved with platitudes and light puns, including references to the horse Friedrich Nietzsche famously flung himself upon. Downstairs, we find a series of cheap mass-produced Dutch bicycles, hanging in the air, and an intricate, shop-like interior containing an array of lamp-like objects, hanging and on shelves.
The result, while austere, is a dark commentary on the contemporary interiors of hotel lobbies, co-working spaces and start-up offices: markers of contemporaneity that draw from imagery of the ‘rustic’ or the ‘mobile’. It’s a menacing, tongue-in-cheek jab at the bland imagery that surrounds us in spaces of capital, gentrification and tech.