Baw-lal is the phonetic spelling of the Hebrew word Balal, which means to mix, mingle, confuse and confound. It is also the Hebrew name for the city where the tower of Babel was built.
The group exhibition 'baw-lal' at Juliette Jongma features artists who use language as a basis for confusion: this is the ‘Balal’ they create. The works on display show dissociation between language and object, between object and theory.
The delicate collages by Frank Hannon (1970, Ireland) are made up of layers of images and text. A layer of translucent paint creates a curtain, which functions as a repoussoir through which one observes the collage. The collages consider how communal memory is maintained and how personal stories inter-relate with accepted histories. Hannon uses historical images, and by putting layer upon layer he creates a dialogue between the images and texts that he uses, between abstraction and figuration, expressing the tension between individual and group mythologies.
Pawel Kruk (1976, Koszalin) graduated from the Rijksakademie in 2012. In his work he deconstructs artworks by other artist and by himself. In fact, he does not want to be an artist. He documents what is happening or invites others to document his work for him; the artist uses this documentation again in his own practice. Kruk challenges the spectators to change their view on life, their view on art and their activity around this. Kruk searches for a specific tension.
The light box installation ‘Fuji Mountains’ shows the 35 famous views of Mount Fuji, while leaving out the most famous one. This is a document of a Chinese draughtsman from the late 19th century. The second work shows a certificate saying that Kruk did not add a line to the drawing by Sol LeWitt in the collection of M.A.D.R.E. in Rome. While being at the Rijksakademie, the students visited the museum and Kruk was thought to have added a line to a wall drawing by Sol Lewitt. While the rumor got bigger, Kruk had to face the consequences of such a fact. Now, a little over a year after, Kruk, in this document, states that this actually did not happen.
In the film Le Berger by Benoît Marie (1978, Pessac) two shepherds meet in a house where the pianist Glenn Gould is playing a study by Chopin. Later, the concept of Cordelia appears (referring to Kierkegaard's Diary of a Seducer) and questions the shepherds about Gould’s presence. Maire’s work reflects on different philosophers, such as Jean Francois Lyotard and Jacques Lacan. The artist is interested in what cannot be measured. He tracks down ‘accidents’: moments when aesthetics might happen, whether they are in rewriting, re-enactments of history or in failures and inconsistencies. The object gets less autonomous and inextricably linked to its context. Maire’s work is a constant dialogue between theory and art. Maire states that sculptures can be perceived while reading philosophy, and that text can create an image in one’s mind.
The double 16 mm projection ‘Sebastian’ by Pablo Pijnappel (1979, Paris) refers to an essay written by his grandfather, Dr. Walderedo Ismael de Oliveira, a psychoanalyst. The essay is about a 25 year old medicine student from Turkey (X), who, according to Dr. Walderedo, suffered from a personality disorder, because he could not speak his mother tongue. His psychoses are manifested in the symbology of the myth ‘the tower of Babel’. After he moved from Turkey to Buenos Aires, X starts to use the name Sebastian. From this moment on he suffers from language confusion in his dreams and at home. In the end Sebastian only generates noises, in which one can find no words.
For twelve years Willem Oorebeek (1953, Rotterdam) has produced a series of works entitled ‘BLACK OUTS’. He uses iconic images of magazine spreads and covers them by using black ink. In his work on display in the exhibition titled ‘Seance’, Oorebeek used the popular image of Sigmund Freud’s sofa. Leaving one side of the photograph white and the other side the photo of the sofa covered with black ink, he has created a magazine layout. Considering the visual structure of visual media, the white part would have been filled with texts, columns or otherwise; the blankness emphasizes what is not there.