A ghost is haunting the world – the ghost of capitalism.
(Don De Lillo, Cosmopolis)
The invisible hand
Is what we see really what it seems? Since quantum physics first emerged, scientists have been discovering particles that are not what they seem. They are able to be there and not be there at the same time. Everyday things such as smartphones and social media are not always what we think they are either. This may surprise us, but also profoundly disturb us. Objects become intangible, their function and properties escape us. It is not only what they do, but also what they are worth, that is increasingly a mystery. Their market value appears to be the consequence solely of speculation and no longer the value of the raw materials themselves. Despite the warnings given by numerous crises, speculation still leads to bubbles and crashes. The unbridled urge for growth and profit is like a ghost that continues to pursue our governments, industries and our own minds. In his book The Spectre of Capital, the German literary academic Joseph Vogl wrote: ‘If there is an invisible hand at work, it is most certainly malevolent’.
In SOMETHING (out of nothing) various large inflatable sculptures form a performative scenography in which the human disappears. These automated sculptures are made out of the black fabric characteristic of the theatre, and appear and disappear again into boxes attached to the ceiling. The installation BOGUS III is a fragment of this landscape of performative objects. Is this a post-apocalyptic environment, after the end of humanity, when machines have continued without us and have taken proportions we couldn’t have imagined up until now? Or are these sculptures an image of the alienation, the violence and the spectrality of a society in which everything has been turned into a commodified disposable?
BOGUS III gives shape to air, to the nothingness inflating itself with loud creaking and booming. BOGUS – a synonym for ‘fake’ – has a mysterious, ghostlike appearance. It is founded on an extensive study of materials and research into the dynamics of inflatable sculptures. The black theatre fabric generates at the same a sculpture and a shadow, a dark matter, a void in space. The birth and disappearance of a dark sculpture; this is the ultimate magic. The name BOGUS is also reminiscent of the word ‘bogey’, an evil spirit, a source of fear; BOGUS is a materialization of the false ghosts that pursue us.
A variation on absence and performative objects
The shape of BOGUS III lies somewhere between concrete and abstract. This kinetic sculpture has organic forms and ways of moving that remind us of the drawings by the biologist Ernst Haeckel. In a nonhuman choreography, it grows out of the ceiling and crawls back into it. BOGUS III is part of larger research into the coming absence of humankind, which forms a red thread throughout Kris Verdonck’s recent work. In a world from which man has disappeared, this installation occupies the space as an autonomous performer. It is a mutating creature which, although it looks like it is breathing, remains a body without a core. It is unclear how the sculpture works. This, together with the size and ambiguous material, makes BOGUS III into an uncanny entity. Or as the Viennese philosopher Günther Anders would formulate it: we are so clueless and breathless when confronted with our own products, as if they were objects delivered to our homes, unsolicited, by inhabitants of a strange planet. BOGUS III is a monument to what the downfall of man might mean: the urge for more, the fascination with wealth and glamour, giving rise to the formation of bubbles which, when they burst, reveal where these reckless desires lead: nowhere.
The installation is presented parallel to Verdonck’s performance SOMETHING (out of nothing).