In her work, Bie Michels (b. 1960, Kimwenza, Congo, lives and works in Antwerp) focuses on observing, registering and questioning the representation of the ‘other’. Her paintings, installations and films not only question her own position with regard to the subject: she allows ‘others’ to collaborate or comment during her creative process. Thus the gaze or perspective of the ‘outsider(s)’ is an inherent part of the final result. These others may be artists, experts or labourers, but also people closely involved with the work.
The anthropological undertone of her work is not a scientific practice to render culture transparently, but rather a subjective and ephemeral way of ‘reading’ culture in an attitude of amazement. Through a working process of recording, collecting, appropriating, fragmenting and physical experiences, she tries to use sensual evocation to break down the boundaries between the artist, the audience and the ‘other’. She juggles with narrative structures, which allows her to undermine the dominant Western gaze and the myth of the univocal story. Furthermore, she explores the complex relationships (be they cultural, historical or interpersonal etc.) that a variety of individuals and groups maintain with objects in order to better understand both their surroundings and the existence of these objects in themselves.
Her work has been shown in Belgium and internationally, at venues including Argos (Belgium), MHKA (Belgium), Netwerk Aalst (Belgium), Fei Contemporary Art Centre (Shanghai, China), Dunkerque 2013 in Dunkirk (France) and Hastings (UK) and Lokaal 01 (Breda, the Nederlands).