Chantal Akerman, Marianne Berenhaut, Sarah Kaliski and Julia Pirotte are artists. One makes films, the other sculptures. Another is a painter, the last a photographer. Four Jewish women. Coming from different generations, they emigrated or were born of stateless parents who fled Eastern Europe and the persecutions of the 1930s. All four lived in Brussels and have in common that they lived – directly or through their relatives – through the Occupation, that they saw and suffered deportations, that they lived through the disaster.
Chantal, Marianne, Sarah and Julia are sisters. Sisters from other parents. They have survived, or simply lived, thanks to their own resilience. Like Ruth Elias, Ada Lichtman, Paula Biren and Hanna Marton, The Four Sisters who returned from the death camps and whose testimonies were collected by the filmmaker Claude Lanzmann in the late 1970s, they share the experience of the Shoah. They are custodians of a memory, made up of as many stories as of absences and incomplete words. A gap, a silence, a haunting which they inherited.
These artists have created works, languages, and ways of seeing in and around this hole in history, in their history. Evolving each in a singular world, Chantal, Marianne, Sarah and Julia have sometimes crossed paths, seen each other at the bend of an exhibition or a projection. These women have built themselves with a strength and a commitment that make them today’s models of life and freedom. As Jews, they have questioned the weight of belonging and transmission, the power of a scattered and diasporic culture.
Four Sisters is a choral exhibition that follows the gaze of these four figures, whose lives, placed end to end, cover an entire century of history, where events and places, destruction and emancipation, political transformations and intimate experimentations are connected. Combining works and archives, images and texts, monographic presentations and collective arrangements, Four Sisters interweaves the threads of these life stories in a weaving fashion extending into the present, through the punctuated participation of artists from a younger generation. Within Four Sisters, in the details and folds, memories mingling with fiction, there are gestures, times and fragments whose echoes resonate and compose new patterns, like a memory that can only be formed in sharing.
This exhibition project is realized in partnership with Bozar, the Museum of Photography of Charleroi, the C.A Foundation and the Polish Institute Brussels.