The power of the absurd to make a serious comment on society has long been used as a device by artists to confront and entice audiences. It is deployed by John Bock in his new installation Curve-Vehicle incl. - Man-(.), comprised of a film screening of one of his ‘lectures’ - a live performance in the space using actors interacting with sculptural elements. The vehicle itself is a futuristic, motorised mobile home made up of a tower of pods, each with some semblance of a living space including kitchen, bedroom and living area. Throughout the lecture, the vehicle docks at pods in the gallery ceiling and walls, and its passengers engage in street banter with sellers of noodles, shirts and clocks with sci-fi extras. Although the use of language is illogical, invented, dissected and reinvented, there is a familiarity there. One senses a plot, even if there is no plot. It is a post-apocolyptic world without houses and food, where humankind is forced to find new solutions in order to survive. The film is humorous and chaotic, but in its light- heartedness the multi-faceted issues it sets out to address don’t transpire through the work.
There is no urge for us to question our place in society or to find a new perspective through the hybrid of scientific, architectural and popular culture influences and references. The sculptures appear smaller in reality and feel sparse and disengaged from the space and the viewer. Curve-Vehicle incl. - Man-(.) is a very different experience to Bock’s first major UK exhibition at the ICA in 2004, Klütterkammer when he created a world of curiosities and physical challenges. A curated exhibition within a built environment, full of absurdity and playfulness he brought us into that world, made us a part of it and challenged us to consider its meaning. Curve-Vehicle incl. - Man-(.) keeps the audience on the periphery. It is driven by absurdity, lost in translation and lacking a punch- line, but perhaps that’s part of the point.
-- Joyce Cronin
All images courtesy the artist and The Barbican Art Gallery
Images: John Bock, Curve-Vehicle incl. - Man-(.), Photocredit: Lyndon Douglas