Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys – Optimundus

H j optimundus a6 liggend

Event

M HKA, Antwerpen

07 February 2013 - 19 May 2013

OPTIMUNDUS gave a panoramic overview of the artistic practice of Jos de Gruyter (°1965, Geel) & Harald Thys (°1966, Wilrijk), and thus brought their unique take on an alternative reality into the arena of an exhibition. The exhibition moved to the Vienna Kunsthalle in early 2014.

The work of de Gruyter and Thys takes a merciless look at reality. By means of videos, installations, drawings, sculptures, performances and photography, the artists convey their interpretation of a parallel world, how it is integrated in the contemporary human psyche and how it manifests itself in everyday life and social conformism. Stories about work, leisure, family, social class, masculinity and marginalization are represented by a cast of non-professional actors, relatives, friends, beards, objects and puppets, often in banal interiors, weighed down by an impaired balance of power.

The work draws on diverse sources of inspiration, ranging from certain key scenes in the films by Fassbinder and Visconti, clandestine reality shows, through to the ever-expanding arsenal of anonymously produced films on YouTube, from Russian Road Rage to home videos of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov.

The films of de Gruyter and Thys often take place within mental spaces where interpersonal tensions build up and where a distinct sadness in the heart of the exceptional social imagination of both artists is palpable. Yet, the works not only reflect on the major issues of social class and deprivation, they are also obsessive observations of inner processes. The work of de Gruyter and Thys reminds us of an internal logic that is difficult to define that lives within each of us, and which was central in OPTIMUNDUS.

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