BOOK CHRISTINE CLINCKX / WORKS 1995-2015
This book was published by Christine Clinckx in January 2016.
Language English, Soft cover, 200 pages.
A survey of the installations, performances and photoworks of Belgian artist Christine Clinckx, assembled and designed by the artist.
The book also contains archive documents, a full c.v., and texts by Stijn Huijts and Elke Andreas Boon
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Christine Clinckx plays rough
In 1977, the artistic duo Ulay & Marina Abramovic staged the performance 'imponderabilia' in a museum in Bologna. To gain entrance to the exhibition area, visitors first had to squeeze past the naked bodies of the artists as the duo remained stationary, staring at each other. I was reminded of this work recently as I first made my way through the exhibit 'passing Way', the entrance to Christine Clinckx's exhibition 'HE(LL)AVEN'. This exhibit consists of a long, narrow corridor build out of used mattresses, which leads the visitor to a number of darkened halls, in which various video and sound installations have been set up in the shape of a racing track. Coming from behind the mattressesbyou can hear the sound of human breathing, almost gasping, as if there are people hiding there. The combination of the dingy matresses and their characteristic odour, together with the sound of breathing, produces an almost physical sense of human presence.
It forces you to think of the whole array of human experiences connected with matresses: rest, sleep, sex, birth, sickness, and death, each of them dimensions that refer to the bodily, earthly and mortal aspects of being human. carrying this disturbing baggage on his shoulders, the visitor can then set out on his trek along Clinckx's murky track.
Christine Clinckx shows herself to be an artist who is a typical child of our time. Not only does she utilise the media on which she and her generation were reared (audio and video) in her work, its themes are also closely related to the problems of growing up in a complex, contemporary society. From his early youth, the Westerner is brought up realising that life amounts to more than the earthly cycle of birth, procreation and death, that he differs from animals because of his mental capacity, and that this enables him to strive towards the ideals of civilisation and progress. Through play, children learn the norms and values of our society. Everyone is aware
of examples of how children's games are often steeped in stereotypical ideas and taboos concerning the difference between good and evil. 'Heaven' and 'hell' are concepts that initially appeal to our imagination, even before we find out anything about religion. Through reading and education we later learn that the highest human ideals are pre-eminently expressed in religion and art, because both enable people to rise above their earthly existence. In his renowned study 'Uber den Prozess der Zivilisation' (1939) (The Civilisation Process, 2000), Norbert Elias pointed out that the process trough which a human child becomes and adult can be viewed as an individual 'civilisation process to which every person growing up in a civilised society is automatically subject from a young age, to a greater of lesser extend and with varying degrees of success'.
It comes down to this: every individual must undergo alone the centuries old process of civilisation of the society of which he is a part. This has the added effect that the distance between the adult world and the children's world becomes ever greater.
In her project HE(LL)AVEN, Christine Clinckx had represented and made tangible this particular tension connected with growing up in our society. In doing so she intends to show that the essence of becoming an adult reveals itself to us in the discovery that social reality often contrasts starkly with the attractive ideals of our youth. As a matter of fact, those who engage themselves intensely in society, as Christine Clinckx does, perceive such phenomena as war, environmental disasters, aggression, violence and racism as just more expressions of human failure, symptoms of a perverted world, in which each concept of heaven increasingly clearly carries within it its own implicit hell. Visitors to the exhibition are confronted with a situation in reverse:
hell is no longer located in a proverbial underworld, but has literally taken the place of heaven. Take for example the ceiling projection 'Inferno', that consists of a number of fiery red satanic tongues darting out lasciviously at the exhibition-goers below, in a contemporary and anything-but-aesthetically-non-committal-variation upon traditional Renaissance and Baroque ceiling paintings.
Clinckx identifies the essence of the problem in childhood, playful elements have been incorporated into the exhibits at various levels. The exhibition as a whole has been set up in the form of a darkened racing track, harking back to the fascination that children have for games in which they can ally their rudimentary fears by evoking them. However the artist also refers to childhood games in individual exhibits, such as the doll in the video-exhibit 'Tic-Tac' situated at the end of the corridor of mattresses, the swing with the title 'If you go down to the woods tonight', and the ceiling projection 'Apocalypse Putto', in which we see a baby seemingly playing at being a torpedo, falling from the sky. These 'playful' pieces have in common a malignant, disturbing meaning:
the doll has been thrown from the window, and its head is spinning slowly round; sitting on the swing you hear a child's voice singing about a teddy bear's picnic where strange things go on; 'If you go down to the woods tonight, you better don't go alone'; and the 'torpedo-baby' has an unhealthy radio-active hue. In these exhibits,
Clinckx is referring to the fact that the desire for terror and the fascination are present early in childhood play,
and that at the moment we are born (or dropped) into this world, we are contaminated by the consequences of all sorts of social evils. People are born victims and run a high risk of remaining victims for the rest of their lives.
More specifically, running trough Clinckx' work is a critical attitude towards the position of women and victims.
In 'HE(LL)AVEN' we find the same theme in the exhibit 'Fuck You', as staging of a nocturnal in which we witness a young woman who is the victim of an invisible, but very much present assailant: the visitor (?), whom she treats to a blunt 'fuck you!'.
In this project Clinckx treads the boundaries between visual art and theatre, due to the way in which she involves the exhibition-goer in her work. However, the specific qualities of the individual exhibits also place her firmly in the tradition of visual art, in which she occupies her own, critical position.
Stijn Huijts in catalogue Christine Clinckx. HE(LL)AVEN, Museum Het Domein, Sittard, The Netherlands,
march 31 - june 4, 2001