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Istvan Laszlo

For his first solo exhibition in Belgium, the Romanian artist Istvan Laszlo (born in 1981) presents his latest works under the title Preset Adjustments II.

Interested in the distortion that people sometimes impose on history, Istvan Laszlo looks at the potential re-readings of history. Although he does not define himself as a political artist, he nevertheless highlights problems linked to political and historical issues, questions historical criticism and the (dis)illusions of economic systems.

The exhibition opens with a copy of the Bible with the inscription "All Time Best Seller" on the leather jacket. Could the world's best-selling book be the Book?

In the related rooms, Laszlo is interested in the power of the image and in particular in the process of manipulation, which was used to a great extent by totalitarian systems from the first half of the 20th century. The best known examples were carried out by the Soviet authorities during the Stalinist era (the retouching of photographic documents leading to the outright erasure of former comrades who had become troublesome). Since then, this process has spread considerably thanks to certain computer software and concerns many activities.

By using the tools and codes of our mass media society, the artist blurs the lines. He appropriates, for example, the lenticular printing technique frequently used by marketing companies. By applying this process to photos taken by an anonymous person in 1989 in Bucharest, during the revolution that led to the fall of the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, he reproduces the act of erasure dear to Stalin by making every person disappear from the various photos. In Elvisceau he also uses the effect of deception as well as in his self-portrait as a soldier.

In the video Revolution, Laszlo recreates a symbolic moment where we see a float with revolutionaries parading on it rise from a thick smoke. This is a short moment of jubilation as they disappear shortly afterwards in a new smoke screen. This appearance / disappearance effect poses the problem of revolutions. Are the "good intentions" that drive a people to revolution permanent or do they disappear, after a while, behind a "new smoke screen"? The plate of stamps from this video underlines the idea of the fragmented moment but also reminds us that the stamp remains one of the most important propaganda vehicles.

As you pass from one room to another, you can read on the wall the inscription MI$$ING, also visible from the street. This is the term under which the police issue missing persons notices. The double S changed to $ allows for various interpretations.

In his video Capitalism (shown in the videobox), the artist manipulates the credits of the American majors in a grating parody and substitutes the term CAPITALISM for the archaic names (MGM, Universal,...).