Sampling the Man of Memory is a sound piece by Belgian visual artist Vincent Meessen and Belgian- Rwandese sound artist Aurélie Nyirabikali Lierman, featuring collected sounds alongside the voice of the 85-year-old Belgian historian and Kuba expert Jan Vansina, known as the “father of oral history.” The piece emanates from four vintage NAGRA audio recorder-players (Nagra means “I will record” in Polish, the language of their inventor) not unlike what Vansina would have used during his research expeditions in the Congo. Magnetic tape reels form a crisscross pattern as Vansina recounts an anecdote of his serendipitous meeting with Tendu in 1953. This oral testimony is by perhaps one of last surviving people who can assert that Tendu was still alive more than two decades after several historical records declared him dead. This adds another layer to the questioning of history writing that is a leitmotif of the exhibition Patterns for (Re)cognition.

Title: Sampling the Man of Memory
Duration: continuous, perpetuum mobile
Year: 2014, 2017 (revised)
Form: visual & sonic sculpture, 6.0 surround sound

Technical specifications:
Sound installation; media players, 2 NAGRA loudspeakers, 4 NAGRA III tape recorders, magnetic tape; 12 stools, melamine on MDF, wood; each stool 42 x 50 x 50 cm – NAGRAs: Philippe Vandendriessche, Brussels Courtesy Vincent Meessen, Aurélie Nyirabikali Lierman

patterns bozar la rotonde - photo philippe de gobert The installation was presented in
– Room 4 of Kunsthalle Basel, a white square space of 100m2 with a ceiling of 6m high.
– La Rotonde Royale at Bozar Center for Fine Arts in Brussels,  an emblematic round Art Deco space by Victor Horta.


patterns basel room 4 - photo Zlatko MićićDescription:
The sound travels physically (!) through space.
The audience can choose to sit on one of the specially designed stools, stand or freely walk around the installation.
The tape recorders are placed in the middle. There are two tape loops running around in a crossing pattern each with their individual sounds. Both tape loops are 5m long and play back +- 1 minute of sound. The volume of the tape machines is relatively low, so you get a continuous but subtle and gentle mass of sounds floating in the air.

patterns basel room 4 (speaker) - photo Philippe VandendriesscheThe external speakers are 10m away from each other, placed near the walls. The two external speakers each have their own individual loop of +- 3 minutes and are slightly louder then the tape machines. Their sound is fragmented and has a lot of silences.


12.02.2015 – 25.05.2015 Vincent Meessen/Tshela Tendu
Expo Patterns for (Re)cognition II, Kunsthalle Basel, Basel

Other Exhibitiondate(s):
15.06.2017 – 10.09.2017 Vincent Meessen/Tshela Tendu
Expo Patterns for (Re)cognition III, Bozar Center for Fine Arts, Brussels

Book publication:
Patterns for (Re)cognition
ed. Bozar Books/Snoeck Publications, Brussels 2017

August 2017, Radio Klara (VRT), Brussels
August 2017, RTBF, Brussels
April 2015, Atelier du Son, Radio France, Paris
Complete Press Reviews on Patterns for (Re)Cognition II + III

Funds & Support Patterns II (Kunsthalle Basel)
Partnership: KBR, Royal Library of Belgium, Brussels
Support: Flanders State of the Art / Kunsten en Erfgoed,
Fundación Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso para el Arte, Peter Handschin, and Regent Lighting.

Funds & Support Patterns III (Bozar, Brussels)
Partnership: KBR, Royal Library of Belgium, Brussels
Support: Nationale Loterij

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