Jan De Cock
Improvise and Overcome
23.04.11 – 12.06.11
With Improvise and Overcome, Jan De Cock highlights the central, semicircular space of the gallery with an ‘infini’; a structure that refers to the nineteenth-century panorama. The installation enhances the movement evoked by the space: the visitor stumbles upon a walk-round, a spot-lit scene by which he is entirely surrounded. The architectural context functions as a reference point, but the space is also a starting point with regard to content, a gauge for the work’s attitude towards the academic, pedagogical context within which KIOSK operates.
The slogan-like title, Improvise and Overcome, is De Cock’s straightforward proposition to young artists: Nothing is impossible, improvise and ‘thou shalt overcome’. It exemplifies a ‘just do it’ kind of attitude that could well serve as an epitome of De Cock’s own uncompromising artistic practice.
The improvised assortment of elements functions as a conceptual framework in which the viewer can shape his own proposition. A walk through the round space is evoked, like a skin that can be peeled back by the viewer, to lay bare a simple essence contained within a multitude of perspectives. Rather than directing the visitor, De Cock offers an opportunity to stray and lose one’s way. The subdued wall with its wood veneer guides the gaze like the plane-trees along an endless avenue. Friction is only suggested by the layered images of polluted alpine landscapes and pictures of Kyoto and Cairo. Through these, we can view back on our origins, the cradle and shape of our civilization.
As such, the panorama may at first confront us as a blind wall, but can subsequently be opened up like an infinite landscape or a blank sheet of paper. The rounded corners suggest a boundlessness, an infinitude in which De Cock wishes to offer himself, the visitor and man in general the space and opportunity to doubt.
These formal elements are combined with a politically charged text that is at once complex and commonsensical; it touches upon that universal figure of thought: Why is it so much easier to envisage the end of the world than it is to accept a languishing disease? Little by little, we learn to deal with, say, a nuclear explosion or the potential end of Belgium, we learn to seize ‘the moment’ to channel our emotions instead of blocking them.