Atopies (VIII)

Jan Vercruysse


Installation, 396 x 380 x 30 cm.
Materials: mahogany veneer on wood, steel

Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp (Inv. no. BK7249 A-G).

Atopies (VIII) forms a reflection on art and on the place for art in the world. As its title suggests, Atopies (VIII) is part of Vercruysse's series of Atopies, which he created between 1985 and 1987. The austere construction with mahogany mantelpiece and six wooden panels suggests the existence of a space; however, the space is closed and impossible to enter. The mantelpiece, usually a symbol of warmth and homeliness, an archetypical rendering of a "place", fails to give a sense of security. Most of all, the work evokes a feeling of emptiness. 'Atopie' literally means 'non-place'. Vercruysse uses the word as a reference to the theme of the place for art in the world, which commonly recurs within his oeuvre. At the same time, it is a play of words with 'utopie', utopia, the world of vision and ideals. Perhaps Vercruysse is suggesting that for utopia, too, only emptiness remains.

'It's of course all about art and the place of art. To say that it would be a metaphor for saying that there is no place left would be too strong. "Left" is too strong. It is certainly about loss, but that doesn't mean you can say that there is no place "left". It is not about complaining. Loss is before presence.' - Jan Vercruysse, interview with Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, 1987

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