New Lovin

27.01 — 12.05.24

Solo exhibition

Curated by Dagmar Dirkx

‘New Lovin’ is David Bernstein's (US/EU, 1988) first performative exhibition at an arts institution in Belgium. It brings together three narratives, the common thread being the human desires for dominance and submission. Over more than thirty planned performances, Bernstein will activate the exhibited objects, emphasising the importance of physical presence, ritual and storytelling. Reserve your spot now to see the performance exhibition in its entirety.

The exhibition starts with Synagoga & Ecclesia, a mediaeval anti-semitic motif in which two women personify Judaism and Christianity. While Ecclesia is depicted triumphantly, Synagoga is blindfolded and defeated. They symbolise the victory of Christianity over Judaism. In a queer reading, Bernstein depicts the women in a lesbian BDSM romance in which Synagoga explores the power of her submissive role.

In the second part of the exhibition, Bernstein again reflects on how power relations are symbolised. Scattered in the chapel are pieces of watermelon, a symbol of the Palestinian struggle for freedom. Each piece is a wooden wedge that was cut away to fell a tree. Here Bernstein is referring to Israelis systematically cutting down olive trees on Palestinian lands. In contrast to ethno-nationalism and a return to a utopian homeland, Bernstein reflects on the Yiddish principle of doykeit, or ‘hereness’, arguing that we are at home wherever we are living.

These two narratives are brought together with a third in New Lovin, the central but closed altarpiece. Only during performances will Bernstein reveal what lies within: the hidden blueprints for a new, utopian city in Belgium. Here, English is the official language, solving Belgian linguistic divisions; intercultural marriages are the absolute norm; and ‘combi-nationalism' appears to be the ideological goal.

The central altarpiece New Lovin will only be opened during Bernstein’s performances. Reserve a time slot and find out what this utopian city is all about. With it Bernstein searches for a new universal order, casting a critical eye on the tactics of settler colonialism and the strategies of Theodor Herzl’s Zionist manifesto.

Practical information about the performances:

David Bernstein is an artist who combines performance, sculpture and writing to tell stories through objects. His projects deal with a range of subjects: psychology, wellness, fetishism and spirituality. In addition to his individual practice, he collaborates with a variety of people and participates in community-building at Shabbes 24/7 (a Belgian-Jewish diasporist queer collective) and at Level Five (an artist-run cooperative studio in Brussels).

New Lovin’ was proposed by guest curator Dagmar Dirkx. It is presented as part of Kunsthal Extra City’s New Voices project, which seeks to offer a platform for refreshing perspectives and new ideas.


With the generous support of: City of Antwerp, Flanders, SD Worx, Knops Publishing, Vedett, Mondriaan Fund

Location Kunsthal Extra City - Chapel, Provinciestraat 112, 2018 Antwerpen