‘Eyes in Cheese’: Saori Kuno invites Philip Janssens

10 February 2017 – 5 March 2017

Let me remind you of the following passage by the Dutch author Harry Mulisch.

The intonation and gesticulations of the speaker, fed by his rounded, physical visibility on a specific spot in space, evidently – incomprehensibly – have a rational value.

This passage could well describe part of the ambiguity of Saori Kuno’s work. Perhaps the author wants to convey that how a text is understood as a whole, how the gravity of a context in which a related text is made understandable, where the meaning and value of a text change, depends on the person, the way and the situational circumstances in which a text is performed. This could well apply to Kuno’s works here on display.

Through the relocation of carefully selected objects, so close to us in our daily lives, away from their habitual habitat, into a white cube – a museum, a gallery or an art space – Kuno reveals, through an echo of Duchamp, the power of these cultural institutions that designate the statute of art to the displayed objects.

But even without Mulisch the visual works of Kuno swiftly tingle the senses and intuition, because we still recognise the reformed, transformed, mutated objects: from our ancient romantic memories or simply as a theoretical identification of the object itself. A minimal gesture by Kuno activates your imagination and makes a mess of your common sense.

     

The works of Saori Kuno (b. 1983, Japan) have been exhibited at Basis (Frankfurt), Marres (Maastricht), WIELS (Brussels), M HKA (Antwerp), Royal Academy of Fine Art (Antwerp), Herman Teirlinckhuis (Beersel) and Extra City (Antwerp).

Philip Janssens’ body of work tends to evoke a certain frustration in its audience. The artist distances himself from methodologies intrinsic to conceptual art; his objects should not be considered as mediums carrying meaning or as mental concepts waiting to be revealed. They rather question the true nature of the object itself and the essential contradiction they bear, of objects always being subject to the subjectivity of perception.

Janssens’ work explores the notion of the simulacrum, where the object itself only functions as a trigger for the mental image constructed in the mind of the viewer. The relationship between the objective image and its subjective memory is at the foreground of his praxis, heavily inspired by Kant’s philosophy.

Alluring aesthetics attract a hypnotized gaze from the viewer but cause confusion, manifest in the incapability to understand and regain focus on the presented objects. We are constantly challenged to construct a clear overview, but our focal point keeps shifting due to the lack of hierarchy in the composition.

This provocative attitude is idiosyncratic in the sense that the work needs the perception of the spectator in order to be activated, to establish itself in a mental imprint and thereby find existence.

Philip Janssens (b. 1980, Lille) studied Philosophy before moving to In-Situ (Site-Specific Installation) at Antwerp’s Academy of Fine Arts. His solo projects have been displayed at Summer Studio (Moonens Foundation, Brussels) and Platform 102 (Brussels). He was artist- in-residence at AIR Antwerpen and at WIELS. Recent group exhibitions include Workspace Brussels, Working Title Situation #4 (Quincallerie Van Der Eycken and Beursschouwburg, Brussels) and Spatial Sublation (WIELS Project Room, Brussels).