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Single-channel video installation

HD 16:9


Dutch, French, German, Arabic spoken

48' 58"


Patria (Vive le Roi, Vive la république!) was first created on May 10th 2008 as a performance at the Martyrs' Square in Brussels, during the KunstenFestivaldesArts. The action took place on the historical square in front of the Flemish Parliament, where about 400 martyrs of the Belgian Revolution are buried, and the event was shot with seven video cameras.


For this work, Koen Theys was inspired by the painting Episode of the September Days 1830 on the Grand Place of Brussels (1835) by Gustave Wappers. This huge painting can be viewed in the Museum of Art in Brussels. Like the famous painting, Liberty Leading the People (1830) by Eugène Delacroix, the most important icon of the French Revolution, the painting by Gustave Wappers can be considered the most important icon of the Belgian independence.


The people who populate the painting of Wappers, however, are replaced in the video of Koen by the riot police as we know them today. They all sleep in the vicinity of their dogs and horses, and sometimes they shout slogans like "Long live the king!", "Long live the Republic!", "Long live the sky!", "Long live the dogs! ',' Long live democracy! ',' Long live my mother! ', Etc. The slogans are called in the three national languages of Belgium: Dutch, French and German. Other than that there is also some Arabic to hear. All possible political views pass, and in addition with a mocking undertone, the greatest trivialities.


In his book, The End of History and the Last Man (1992), the American philosopher Francis Fukuyama defends the idea that the end of history has been reached. All the big ideologies of the 20th century have come to an end, he says, and they have made way for a post-ideological, neoliberal pragmatism. In response to these theories, Koen Theys raises questions about whether or not it is possible to make a 'history piece' in a so-called post-historical society.


The film was screened or exhibited at:


  • To be continued


  • To be continued

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