Bronze Boots in Bruges: Decoding Ivan Argote’s Sculpture ‘Who?

A pair of large bronze boots stand still in a canal in Bruges, seemingly abandoned. The eye-catching bronze artwork, titled “Who?” by Ivan Argote, gives the impression that an 18th-century statue has been cut off at the knees, prompting curiosity about the identity of its owner.

The piece by Argote comments on the removal of monuments linked to colonialism, which are increasingly viewed as commemorations of grim legacies involving slavery, violence, and power misuse. Belgium, with its extensive and harsh colonial history in Africa, serves as a backdrop. “Monuments are scars in our cities and memories, often reminding us of a history of dominations and humiliations,” the artist explains. “We must seize the opportunity to forge new stories and mend the scars of our aggressive pasts.”

“Who?” is showcased at the Triënnale Brugge, which is ongoing until September 1. Argote is also set to unveil an outdoor sculpture at the Giardini during the 60th Annual Venice Biennale. Additional information about the artist can be found on his website and Instagram.