Magazine article Art Monthly

John Bock

Magazine article Art Monthly

John Bock

Article excerpt

John Bock

Barbican Curve London 10 June to 12 September

John Bock's installations see theatre collide with architecture, film with performance and engineering with sculpture--all in a cacophony of delightful absurdity. His art is often presented as a theatrical set, with the audience invited to take the role of the performer, encouraged to crawl and slide around the work to find the films and artworks scattered throughout. In his exhibition at the Barbican Curve, however, the installation is off limits to visitors, despite its enticing appearance. Instead it is a group of actors who animate it in a series of 'lectures' devised by Bock that take place sporadically during the show's run.

Such lectures have formed a central part of Bock's work for several years now, alongside an increasing interest in film. The Curve exhibition combines both these elements, beginning with a film (directed by Bock) of a lecture shot within the space, which shows the artwork in action.

The installation consists of a number of components, with a reconfigured London taxi, carrying a towering, makeshift structure, at its centre. This mobile construction is divided into smaller spaces, or rooms, which reflect the divisions of a conventional house: there is a kitchen area, strewn with hanging pots and pans, and a place to lie down and rest. There are also spaces for socialising, one of which, at the top of the four-storey structure, has a hatch that opens to the outside world. This opening allows those travelling in the vehicle to interact with the inhabitants of a number of 'pods' that are attached high within the walls of the gallery space.

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Similar to the taxi-home, the pods are created with steel mesh and various found materials, though they function here as shops, with each one selling individual products to the passers-by. One is stocked full of shirts, another clocks, while a third is a noodle bar. All three stores contain a small seat at their centre for a shopkeeper to sit on while proffering their wares, meaning that the pods are cramped yet functional, though perhaps not ideal for those suffering from a fear of heights.

Most visitors to the Curve will see the installation in a dormant state, though in Bock's filmed lecture two actors travel around the space in the mobile home visiting the stores. As they do so, they carry out lengthy, and largely nonsensical, conversations. …

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