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Jewish Museum of Belgium : Mathieu Pernot : Something is happening


The Jewish Museum of Belgium presents the unique retrospective Something is happening of French photographer Mathieu Pernot (°1970, Fréjus).

Combining photography, video and handwritten material, this exhibition places at its centre a space-time as precise as it is emblematic: the island of Lesbos in 2020. Located in the Aegean Sea, a few kilometres from the Turkish coast, this island experienced a series of crises in 2020, making it a focal point of our history and our consciousness. It is for this reason that the Jewish Museum of Belgium has conceived this exhibition, an original creation that explores themes echoing the long history of Jewish communities: exile, violence, solidarity.

Shown for the first time, the work that Mathieu Pernot (Fréjus, 1970) performed on Lesbos in 2020 is here anchored in a long-term oeuvre. For more than ten years, the photographer has been confronting the issue of migration and the presence of asylum seekers on the European continent. While the first images reflected a form of invisibility of these individuals hidden under sheets in the streets of Paris or driven out of the forest of Calais, the series produced subsequently explore new forms of shared narratives. By collecting texts written in school notebooks or receiving images recorded on their mobile phones, the author also acts as a conduit for “other people’s lives”, showing how this life, even before being that of others, is a common Story that we must tell together.

Winner of the 2019 Cartier-Bresson Prize, Mathieu Pernot follows the approach of documentary photography and ultimately diverts from its protocols. Questioning his own practice, exploring alternative formulae, his work builds what is so often missing, narratives with several voices.

The exhibition is accompanied by a publication: Ce qu’il se passe (Gwinzegal editions, May 2021)


Mathieu Pernot : Something is happening
19.05 – 19.09.2021
Jewish Museum of Belgium
Curator: Bruno Benvindo

Jewish Museum of Belgium
Miniemenstraat 21 Rue des Minimes 21
1000 Brussels



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