The Architectural Folly Attempts a Return at a Brussels Exhibition

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Miscellaneous Follies at the KANAL – Centre Pompidou argues that in today’s post-truth world, the spiritual, sensual, and ambiguous folly has acquired a new resonance.

The folly, as an architectural type, is a provocative and perplexing phenomenon. Ever since 16th century arts patron Pier Francesco Orsini created the Parco dei Mostri in central Italy—where monstrous purpose-made ruins and sculptures have intrigued visitors for centuries—this ostensibly functionless typology continues to channel spirituality, sensuality, ambiguity, and the unknown. In today’s era, where Modernism’s pursuit of a unifying narrative has been replaced by an embrace of mixed messages and post-truths, the folly has taken on a new resonance. That idea is the focus on the new exhibition Miscellaneous Follies at KANAL – Centre Pompidou in Brussels. As Cédric Libert, one of the show’s curators, said at the show’s opening, “The contemporary condition is this very unstable world, of infinite quantities of messages. At the same time, the interesting thing about the collapse of one great narrative, is that we can all [have] multiple [narratives].”

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