Jan De Cock: Museum of Modern Art

By Amor, Monica | Artforum International, April 2008 | Go to article overview

Jan De Cock: Museum of Modern Art


Amor, Monica, Artforum International


Jan De Cock's first US museum exhibition is a multipart installation featuring a complex display of framed images punctuated by boxlike plywood modules. A larger wooden structure, spotted with recesses and reliefs and evocative of both Minimalist sculpture and De Stijl architecture, sits on the floor as if to obstruct one's progress through the gallery. The photographs, mostly taken by the artist, depict buildings, landscapes, and artworks (including previous installations and projects by the artist), as well as shots of MOMA'S own architecture, conservation labs, library, cinema, and education center. The effect is, of course, self-referential. The work is titled Denkmal 11, Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53 Street, New York, 2008: Denkmal is included in the title of all the artist's works, suggesting that each of them is a monument (and memorial--the word signifies both in German) and a "mold for thought" (the meaning suggested by a composite of the words denk and mal in Flemish, the Belgian-born artist's mother tongue).

The scattered floor-to-ceiling installation is carefully arranged around the walls of the designated gallery in an unconventional layout evocative of early avant-garde experiments with exhibition space and the new technologies of vision represented by film and photography. Like his modernist predecessors, De Cock attempts, through the fragmentation, repetition, cropping, and framing of images of art and architecture, to alter and complicate the one-dimensional imagery of mass media. Each panel features a variety of shots of different sizes, taken from different angles and picturing an array of subjects. Using varied matting, the artist focuses our attention on different sections of the images; most remain recognizable but some don't.

Those familiar with De Cock's self-published books (the third is in the making but a projected twenty-three more will eventually form a massive encyclopedia of the artist's work) will recognize here an almost mimetic relation to some of the pages of those volumes. …

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