A Large Family

Suzanne Anker. Rebus, 2000. Silkscreen and pigment on frosted mylar. 24 x 36″

A Large Family

Suzanne Anker (US), Joël Bartoloméo (FR), Fred Bervoets (BE), Delphine Boel (BE), Marcel Broodthaers (BE), Sophie Calle (FR), Charley Case (BE), Laura Cinti (UK), Ulric Collette (CA), Wim Delvoye (BE), Jean-Marc De Pelsemaeker (BE), Carole Fékété (FR), Caroline Feyt (FR), Bernard Gaube (BE), Rip Hopkins (UK), Ton Huijbers (NL), William Ingram (US), Alix Jacops (BE), Eduardo Kac (BR/US), Marin Kasimir (BE), Les Krims (US), Jin Lee (KO), Nicholas Nixon (US), Hans Op de Beeck (BE), Martin Parr (UK), Marion Poussier (FR), Bart Ramakers (BE), Peter Snijder (BE), Edouard Taufenbach (FR), Dany Tulkens (BE), Koen Vanmechelen (BE), Dana Wyse (CA).


Located in the Limburg province of Belgium, the Alden Biesen Commandery is presenting an exhibition entitled A large Family, gathering thirty-two international artists around the representation of the family, as well as notions such as filiation and transmission.

Nowadays, it seems an obvious fact, especially in our Western societies, that the traditional family structure is no longer a stable model. It is a family in crisis that has to face the breakdown of social and cultural values. According to Maurice Godelier, a French anthropologist, the model of traditional family in Europe, which means structured around a man, a woman and children, appears and becomes generalized at the end of the Roman Republic. This family archetype, sealed by Christianity, will govern our social and family relationships for two millennia. But for two centuries, the old rigid family structures become more flexible with the evolution of a society becoming more individualistic. Couples get divorced, get recomposed, live together, and get married with a person of the same sex… or choose for singlehood, while children are born thanks to new reproductive technologies. These are choices acknowledged by an individual that focuses on personal development. Despite this evolution, family ties are essential, even fundamental, to everyone’s construction in the early stages of life. Although it generates suffering, tensions and conflicts, it still stays indestructible, since it defines our origins and largely determines to become what we really are. You don’t divorce from your family.

The exhibition A large Family displayed in the Alden Biesen Commandery expresses the way of thinking about the image of contemporary family, but also the cultural, ethic, social and biological links that define and characterize a family. How to define family in today’s society, at times of social and economic crisis where everyone is trying to find an own identity? Beyond the inner circle of the individual, what does bring us together?

The exhibition presents the works of thirty-two international contemporary artists. It is organized around several themes displayed in the different rooms of the Commandery castle: history and our descendants (Delphine Boël, Wim Delvoye, Carole Fékété, Bart Ramakers) ; maternity (Caroline Feyt, Jin Lee, Jean-Marc De Pelsemaeker) ; transmission and filiation (Ton Huijbers, Rip Hopkins, Marin Kasimir, Les Krims, Caroline Feyt) ; rites and traditions (Fred Bervoets, Marcel Broodthaers, Rip Hopkins) ; living together (William Ingram, Alix Jacops, Martin Parr, Marion Poussier, Dana Wyse) ; science and DNA research (Suzanne Anker, Laura Cinti, Ulric Collette, Eduardo Kac, Peter Snijder, Koen Vanmechelen) ; loss and memory (Sophie Calle, Bernard Gaube, Nicholas Nixon, Edouard Taufenbach, Dany Tulkens). Moreover, three video installations are shown in the vaulted rooms of the castle (Joël Bartoloméo, Charley Case, Hans Op de Beeck).

The exhibition is located in the castle of the Commandery. The history of Alden Biesen begins in 1220, when the knights of the Teutonic Order founded the Landcommanderij. The current buildings were constructed between the sixteen and eighteenth centuries. This location is perfect to host an exhibition which juxtaposes past and present, between history, sciences, sociology, ethnography and contemporary art, to define the concept of family.

This exhibition is organized with the support of the cooperation and cultural action services of the Embassy of France and the Moffarts Foundation.

MUHKA, Antwerp ; FotoMuseum provincie Antwerp ; Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht ; Galerie Le Réverbère, Lyon; Galerie Baudoin Lebon, Paris ; Galerie Emilie Dujat, Brussels ; Galerie du Jour Agnès b, Paris ; Magnum Gallery, Paris ; Aeroplastics contemporary, Brussels ; Collection Dominique Rigo ; Private collections, Brussels and Paris ; the artists.

A Large Family

Alden Biesen, Belgium Commandery
Bilzen, Limburg, Belgium
February 7-April 5, 2015 and July 3-August 30, 2015
Curator: Caroline Bouchard – Concept: Bart Ramakers