January 2011: John Bock Interview
John Bock Astronaut, 2003
Video (PAL) 22:30 min. Video still camera: Knut Klaßen editing: Marc Aschenbrenner
Courtesy: Klosterfelde, Berlin; Anton Kern, NY Copyright John Bock 2003
It's hard to find an anchor in John Bock's tumultuous world. He emphasizes discrepancies and physic's laws; literature and life are sewed together with surprise and unpredictability. Improbable coincidences become real and reality seems incongruous in an atmosphere of continuous, free happening. Elements are combined and dilated according to other non-rules, bringing in a playful, colorful, multifaceted drama.
Like a granular symphony born from the crash, everything is involved in the transformation while language floats through objects and audience. The vortex that envelops us all melts into another reality, where the story doesn't end with the usual happy ending, and where there are no reassuring answers only many actions and perceptions. The material qualities of objects speak through the artist while he checks their power of alteration. In his work everything conveys energy, I think: the use of an extreme fatigue for a normal action increases the physical tension put in place or do it. For that reason, in the end, it makes sense in his world it that way.
Bock's work is a kind of “Quantum Puppet Theater” where everything seems close to collapse, where chaos deforms, and where the splatter fertilizes objects and people, modifying them beyond the improbable. It invokes the strange sensation of being in touch with the higher faculties of mind while presenting what you know to be a simple, broken egg - which is not so simple when it raises questions, when it forces us to see. Or maybe it´s only a “mise-en-scene”? Maybe there is nothing behind, and it's better to appreciate the action as it is? Is it simply, ironic and irreverent clutter? Probably both statements coexist, perhaps the two sides of the coin are on one side, in that changed, parallel world that occasionally collapses in front of our eyes. In the end, this world diffuses, stimulating critical thinking, and seems less absurd than what is around us, one world too often without any logic.
Cecilia Caliari: The Mazy Game born from mutations in interaction is a kind of kaleidoscopic collage of countless variables. Is creating a therapy for you? And what about the variance between your ideas and their materialization?
John Bock: The ideas are meant to be fragmentary and the objects are the material catenation points between the ideas. The ideas deduce the objects and vice versa, but not in such a way that the object interprets the idea. Object and idea link arms with each other and walk toward the sunset.
Caliari: Grotesque, elegance, coagulation, matter, everything seems to flow and screech at the same time. In this society where everything that looks good is good you show a bad parallel view in a “pulsing mixture”. Are you more fascinated by action as it is or by people perception of it?
Bock: I´m more interested in the reception and I combine action, objects and language to a mud-clot which flows into the brain. But what I appreciate even more is a swing of the recepient's body - let the earlobe sound in the wind.
John Bock Malträtierte Fregatte, 2006 Lecture Photography: Jan Windszus Courtesy: Klosterfelde, Berlin; Anton Kern, New York
Co-comissioned and co-produced by Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Berlin and
Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna
© 2006 John Bock. All rights reserved.
Caliari: What does language represent to you?
Bock: Language is greased into the crippled hinges of the objects and under the armpits of the actors. It sinks into every opening of the material. Language is pace, caught in the objects and it knocks against the pit of the recipient's brain and stomach.
Caliari: Your art builds, destroys, molds and drips. It looks like you are using everyday´s objects like atoms, so that these associations create different realities. What role does the unpredictability play in this alchemy? And what is the role of the the audience?
Bock:The audience is an AncientSoup into which I jump as a bean to meet other beans. More important than the jump is the splash-arrival. The splash-arrival is the unpredictable play and the alchemie is the OneBecoming in the AncientSoup. The cooking of the soup is the ArtElasticity which spins the AncientSoup into motion.
Caliari: What about Berlin, its changes and your life here?
Bock: [not answer]
John Bock, Seewolf, 2010 Video
(PAL) 28 mins Video still
Courtesy: Klosterfelde, Berlin; Anton Kern, New York © 2010 John Bock. All rights reserved.
Caliari: You combine the objects creating hybrid associations, altered and alienating genomes that translate into theater of the absurd creations, often colorful, anyway alive, fluid, tactile. Here the extremes coexist and become mixed, new relationships are born between mind and objects, outside what we consider the practical utility, an incentive to go beyond. Is it the other world?
Bock: I knew an Italian who stepped into a puddle and disappeared. Five years later, I saw the same Italian as he was just stepping into another puddle and again disappeared. A friend said that actually I didn't know the puddle-stepper because there were no puddles in this place - Without puddles no puddle-stepper and without puddle-stepper no disappearance. While I'm writing this, my assistant is disappearing in the technical puddle of a sink.
Calari: What is unuseful?
Bock: ungeniusful, fully, filled, belly, unbelly, use my soup, poop talk, under the big use, useless, miss in soup, empty full house, gelee royal in flash
Calari: Please, suggest some web links.
Berlin-based free-lance writer, curator and photographer. Born in 1984, Italy. After completing her degree in History of Art with honours at University of Rome she works as curator in Rome and Venice. She writes about contemporary art for the Italian magazine Artonweb Since 2007 she has collaborated with museums and galleries between Rome and Berlin. She founded this year OneDayToday, her own Berlin art project performing in differents locations.
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