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Blending a theatre of the absurd with grotesque sculptural detritus, the Berlin-based John Bock (born 1965) is one of the most exciting artists at work today. Freely mixing performance, video, installation and sculpture in his polymorphously perverse “lectures” and actions, Bock makes spectacular messes out of wooden furniture, craft materials, textiles, appliances, food and other junk. He creates anarchic contraptions and slapdash prosthetics for his own and other actors’ bodies (to aggress them or in some way hinder their ability to move and communicate) and all manner of other excesses to perform with. The leftovers of his performances often remain in the gallery with video documentation of the ridiculous atrocities that had taken place there. The violence and goo in his films makes them less verbal and more slapstick in their pleasures than his performances, celebrating the absurd and the irrational while wallowing in consumer culture’s ruins. Our programme is headlined by the mind-blowing Meechfieber, which is set in the German countryside where the artist was raised. It takes great pleasure in perverting the behavior of the animals and machines that inhabit the farm, and features a show-stopping bovine birth. Boxer stars two clowns in a sloppy and destructive sparring match, their bodies falling apart piece by piece as they go, while Gast, follows the adventures of a hare navigating Bock’s living room full of booby traps made of flotsam and jetsam. Dubbed “the philosopher of chaos,” Bock will be accompanied by tapes by Israeli-born, New York-based artist Tamy Ben-Tor (Gewald, 2007, 9 min, USA) and the young Canadian artist Emily Jones (Casting Spells, 2006, 20 min, Canada) that have a similarly absurd, ritualistic – even magical – quality in their unsettling and provocative explorations of deep-seated anxieties about difference and otherness.
Boxer, John Bock 2002, 3 min, video Germany
Gast, John Bock 2004, 12 min, video Germany
Meechfieber, John Bock 2004, 39 min, video Germany
Gewald, Tamy Ben-Tor 2007, 9 min, video USA
Casting Spells, Emily Jones, 2006, 20 min, video Canada