Jack Segbars


Artist Novel, 21.6 x 14 cm, 211 p, language: English, Dutch (bilingual edition), publisher: Onomatopee, Eindhoven/Amsterdam, The Netherlands, ISBN: 9789078454946.
Materials: ink, paper

Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp (Inv. no. B 2025/231).

Literary synopsis

Inertia is an account of two visits to Palestine. The immediate cause of this subject was the Israeli attack on Gaza in January 2009, which was widely reported in the media and from which an emotional appeal emanated. The first visit partly was in the context of the 'Riwaq Biennale', the Palestinian art venue that is critically reviewed. The biennale as a model of artistic social criticism is closely connected to the promise of art as a co-designer of society. The central premise is to be present in this force field as artist as well as neutral audience, to be a distanced part of a cultural exercise such as a biennale and comment on it from within. Next to this it is a literary account of the stay in Palestine. Notions of orientation/disorientation, propaganda, and political prejudice are explored. An important question hereby was how one can obtain information by oneself, navigating the ideological propaganda of the parties involved. These attempts at establishing contact begin with the premise that one’s stay is both brief and temporary and the contacts will be inadequate. A reflection of the fact that, while commitment is often proclaimed this rarely results in an actual merging into or a profound understanding of the situation concerned.

Relation of the novel to the artist’s practice

The artist's novel Inertia is the book part of an on-going project that consists of a book, text work and video recordings. It is representative of Segbars’ praxis in which the ‘original’ artwork as object is connected to its adjacent positions that together produce the meaning of the artwork: theory, policy, critique, institution and curator. Having started off as artist producing mostly painting and installations, the focus has shifted to the peripheral and constituent positions of the production of art. This means incorporating the positions of the institutional, theory, policy, curatorship and critique as equal partners in the palette of art production. In this problematic the element of text plays an important role as translating, constituting and transforming tool between these different positions. Concrete for Segbars’ art praxis it means that he takes on the role of curator as well as writer to investigate the role of the artwork in relation to these other positions. The form of the ‘novel’ – the transformation of the originally visual character of art into literature is an extra step away from these constituent forms of text, in which it might be regarded, though questionable, as an ultimate refuge for it to maintain a form of autonomy.

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