For his WIELS exhibition, his first in Belgium, Shimabuku presents a selection of recent works, together with little-known or rarely shown existing pieces.

Can art be instrumental or useful? Shimabuku’s work gives this recurrent demand an absurd spin, while reaffirming art’s essential role in the realm of the imagination.

The exhibition’s title Instrumental highlights the importance of music for Shimabuku, as evidenced by its central role in the videos shown here. It also evokes the many instruments that Shimabuku creates, from manual tools and ingenious inventions to functioning musical instruments: for example, using an archer’s bow to play the double bass, transforming an instrument of war to play jazz.

Shimabuku’s (b.1969, Kobe, Japan) work turns our view of daily life on its head, enabling us to see things from a new perspective, infused with surreal humour and playful beauty. Taking various forms – from transformed objects to actions documented on video, often accompanied by short poetic texts – Shimabuku’s engaging projects reveal his curiosity about the world and awaken ours.

Shimabuku’s work was featured in many international exhibitions, including 14th Biennale de Lyon (2017), 27th Biennale de Venezia (2017), Okayama Art Summit (2016), Havana Biennial (2015), Taipei Biennial (2014), Sharjah Biennale (2013), Yokohama Triennial (2011).

After the guided tour, you are welcome to stay at WIELS and visit Didier Vermeiren’s show “Double Exposition”.

About Zoë Gray:

Zoë Gray is senior curator at WIELS since 2015, where her monographic exhibitions include Klara Lidén (2015), Erik van Lieshout (2016), Simon Denny (2016), Rita McBride (2017), Sven ‘t Jolle (2017), Saâdane Afif (2018), Koenraad Dedobbeleer (2018), Gabriel Kuri (2019), Thao Nguyen Phan (2020), Kasper Bosmans and Shimabuku (both 2022). Previously Gray was artistic director of the Rennes Biennale (2014), worked for the LUMA Foundation in Arles (2012-2013), and was curator at Witte de With in Rotterdam (2006-2011). Between these institutional positions, she has worked extensively as a freelance curator on projects across Europe. She is on several general assemblies, acquisition committees and advisory boards in France and Belgium.


  • 14:30 > Welcome

  • 15:00 – 16:00 > Guided tour


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