Fitting In! An exhibition at Z33 gathers artists, (fashion) designers and activists to question – and celebrate – our liquid identity

Hasselt won’t be able to overlook the expo. The building of Z33 has been connected to the flats across the street with hundreds of ribbons, ending in a vertical forest of colours inside the building itself. It is the entry point for an exhibition that asks sharp questions about our identity. How do we find our place in today’s world, where we are surrounded by so many voices at once? 

We all devote a lot of thought and energy to our identity. Research shows that one in five people in Flanders cannot fully express what—or who—they feel like. The current group exhibition at Z33 celebrates a new kind of liquid identity and, in doing so, breaks down all barriers between visual art, fashion, design and activism.

Curators Annelies Thoelen, Branko Popovic and Marnix Rummens brought together artists at the intersection between all these worlds. Eye-catcher, for instance, is Tom Van der Borght, the local designer who won both the Jury’s and the Public’s prize at the prestigious Hyères fashion festival. For Z33, he designs an exuberant installation celebrating his multiple personalities: the 7 Ways to be T.VDB. Yemeni-Bosnian-US multi-media artist Alia Ali wraps the stairwell integrally with prints on top of prints on top of prints, adding a swing to the ceiling for the full-blown experience.

Many of the artists come from hyper-diverse backgrounds and infuse this into their work by also asking the viewer to switch between viewpoints. Photographer Marwan Bassiouni, for instance, shoots archetypical Dutch landscapes through the windows of

mosques, always showing some of the surrounding interiors as well. Mous Lamrabat created prints that change according to the position you take as a viewer. Nazanin Fakoor pulls out all the stops with an immersive projection. At first glance a sheer parade of colours, until it becomes clear where the images come from.

The Fabricant is a purely digital fashion house: one of the pioneers to design clothes that do not physically exist but only fit your avatar online. Elisa van Joolen assembles hybrid tote bags from supermarkets, cultural institutions and big brands. She invites visitors to become ‘caretakers’ of something that was actually meant to be a disposable object.

The grand finale of the exhibition is Camping Multitude: a tent camp where 11 artists and collectives each use tents differently to make their own artistic or political statements. Think of a dress made out of a Syrian refugee tent, a tent composed of all the world’s flags (designed for the stateless continent of Antarctica), wind- and waterproof clothing that transforms into sleeping bags for the homeless.

Fitting In is an exhibition that raises more issues than it answers. What remains of our fixed values? That is what these artists, designers and activists expressively wonder about. We have always shown different aspects of ourselves according to the context we end up in. But with the explosion of mobility, globalisation and the internet, the floodgate of multiple or liquid identities has finally been opened. Today, we have simply become more. It is the onset for many new questions, but also for a visual feast without limitations.

Annelies Thoelen, Marnix Rummens, Branko Popovic
Artists: Christian Bakalov, Alia Ali, Lisa Konno & Sarah Blok, Mous Lamrabat, Berre Brans, Elisa Van Joolen, Das Leben am Haverkamp: Dewi Bekker, Anouk van Klaveren & Gino Anthonisse, The Fabricant & Teresa Manzo, CFGNY, Ines Alpha, Tom Van der Borght, Jo Cope & Boutique by Shelter, Marwan Bassiouni, Nazanin Fakoor, Helen Storey, Sanne Vaassen, ADIFF Angela Luna, Anais Hazo-Santorin, Elke Lutgerink, Lotje Heidingsfeld, Lucy & Jorge Orta, Mona Steinhaeusser, Sheltersuit, Thierry Geoffroy, Woman Cave Collective: Léticia Chanliau & Chloé Macary-Carney.

Practical Info
Fitting In runs from 02.10 to 26.02.23 at Z33, Hasselt, Belgium

Every second Thursday of the month, you can visit the exhibitions for free and catch an activity. The first nocturne is on October 13.

Exhibition images by Selma Gurbuz
‘Dress of our time’ Performance: performer Samuel Valor Reyes, photographer Jasper Van Hoof