HD Video 2'28''
Emma van der Put (2018)
Courtesy tegenboschvanvreden, Amsterdam
The video Chinese Pavilion shows the facades of the eponymous building, currently covered in scaffolding, which was commissioned by the Belgian King Leopold II for the Brussels World Fair site in the early twentieth century. The architecture of the pavilion, designed by the French architect Alexandre Marcel, can be seen as an Orientalist invention: it is a mixture of Chinoiseries and European influences. Leopold II approached Marcel after seeing his Le Tour du Monde, a series of buildings that were to represent the different architectural styles of the world, built during the Paris World Exhibition in 1900. He also wanted such an exuberant open-air museum, to promote the economic interests of Belgium in China and Japan. The plan was co-funded from resources gathered in the former Congo Free State.The Chinese pavilion, originally set up as a luxury restaurant, became a trade museum and housed products imported from the Far East, destined especially for export to the West.