John Bock, PARA-SCHIZO, ensnarled, 2008/2023, video still
John Bock: PARA-SCHIZO, ensnarled
Oct 26 – Dec 13, 2023
Anton Kern Gallery
New York, USA

After a five-year hiatus, German artist John Bock is returning to New York to inaugurate his eleventh exhibition at Anton Kern Gallery with a “lecture” (performance) on the night of the opening. Bock’s universe is a bold, even daring synthesis of different genres including sculpture, performance, and film. In it, material objects, language, and the human body are given equal value; their interactions are powered by the logic of the collage principle, the combination of disparate entities to create a new thing. Bock extends the traditions of Dada, Surrealism, Fluxus, and of performative sculpture (as exemplified by artists such as Franz Erhard Walther and Mike Kelley), with his sculptures and films demonstrating that an artwork does not remain static but rather comes into being through the interplay of body and material. Bock’s sculptures, lectures, and films bear witness to the idea of the activated sculpture. The body, the artist suggests, becomes a medium in that it can transform life processes into images.

The exhibition at Anton Kern Gallery consists of four distinct parts. The first is a 40-minute film entitled Im Stelldichein des Phantoms (Inside the Phantom’s Rendezvous), projected onto the back wall of the main gallery. The film follows the three protagonists in a Rube-Goldberg-like cyclical vision of dissolution and fusion of the physical world and the human body. A gallows song to eternal transformation and permanent metamorphosis.

Three colorful, wall-mounted glass vitrines containing sculptures in miniature stage settings that suggest diagrammatic narratives, featuring grimaced Punch-and-Judy-esque puppet heads carved from wood or cast in aluminum, engaging in a struggle to redeem Minimalist sculpture á la Donald Judd.

Above the Point of Glowing Silence, a video installation in the front of the gallery, encapsulates the artist’s project for the 2013 Venice Biennale. It includes the video of John Bock’s protagonist Lisa activating the sculptures displayed inside the Giardini, in addition to: a vitrine containing the objects created by Bock and Lisa, the small-scale model of the structure built for the Giardini, and a caterpillar sculpture. The film combines scenes from the actual performance from the Biennale, with images of Lisa roaming the narrow streets of Venice while enacting a complex narrative of memories and the loss of identity.

PARA-SCHIZO, ensnarled, a 50-minute, two-channel video projection, filmed and produced in Korea, and complemented by an installation, held together by a curving fabric sculpture occupies the entire second floor. This is the first exhibition of PARA-SCHIZO, ensnarled outside its original 2008 presentation at the Arko Art Center and Insa Art Space in Seoul. PARA-SCHIZO, ensnarled is the story of Thomas and Jytte, who, after studying the Kraken and the Noodle-Diagrams, become ensnarled in a chase through the Korean capital having to overcome numerous manifestations of elasticity and fluidity. For this exhibition, Bock has revived the film props by transforming them into distinct sculptures that are connected by a fabric diagram. These colorful additions to the original elements function as three-dimensional drawings and are hand-sewn soft sculptures in the tradition of Claes Oldenburg or A.R. Penck’s seldom seen Felt Works.

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    May 17 – Jul 28, 2024
    Eko 9 Triennale
    Maribor, Slovenia

    From folktales and the origins of modern horror in literature and film to contemporary art forms, the horror genre has always possessed the potential to address human and societal fears. With the exhibition Eyes in the Stone, we give power to the primary emotion of fear to jolt us from our numbness to seemingly failing warnings of science. The artists in the exhibition respond in form and narrative to the threatening atmosphere in nature and culture. (more…)