by Esperanza Rosales
In the press release for his third solo exhibition at Galerie Micheline Szwajcer, ‘Ignorance Never Settles a Question’, Belgian artist Koenraad Dedobbeleer elaborates in first-person on the ways in which reflection can be a form of manual labour. As in previous exhibitions, such as ‘Boredom Won’t Starve as Long as I Feed It’ at the Museum Haus Esters in Krefeld last year, the artist configured seemingly casual arrangements of copied or subtly modified everyday objects in quiet dialogue throughout the space.
Since the 1990s, Dedobbeleer’s primary subject has been the relationship between making and showing and the impossibility of isolating sculptural objects from their forms of presentation and display. In this show, he focused on the nature of the exhibition as a ‘repeat performance’, with works either resembling each other or bringing to mind the memory of previous exhibitions. ‘Events show themselves more clearly through repetition’, the artist writes. Embarking on a somewhat conflicted attempt to stage and restage incarnations of what he refers to as the ‘ideal’ sculpture, he replicated elements and forms that appear in several works.
Remodelling materials into vaguely recognizable forms that suggest functional objects, Dedobbeleer’s 13 sculptures refer primarily to each other: the rounded forms of a non-functional furnace in “Thought Apart From Concrete Realities” (all works 2010) mimic a bulbous replica of large, outdoor planters – abstracted, conjoined and multiplied three times in “The Gradual Formation of a Landscape”. Similarly replicated, a series of ineffectual doorknobs in various materials including painted foam and metal, were placed on the gallery’s floors and walls. They are all copies of a brass handle on the exterior of the gallery door. The wood of a hexahedronal piece resembling a fountain, “The Subject of Matter (for Vm)”, painted as faux-marble, mimics the actual marble surface of a neighbouring piece, “That Which Is”. Set into a niche carved into the bench-top of pink marble on that piece, in a depressed area perfectly-sized to contain it, a book titled “Already Uttered on Numerous Occasions in Various Places” contains images and exhibition documentation of possible sculptures that, save for one (the book’s introduction informs us) were never made or materialized beyond the trial phase. The one work that was realized, pictured on the paperback’s small cover – a branched and colourful length of wood suspended by cords entitled “Human Existence Resides in Utter Superfluity” – hangs low to the ground precisely where it was photographed.
With some of his sculptural works being actually present and some only pictured or imaginary, Dedobbeleer’s interest in the apparition of forms, repeated or borrowed from other works, and the paranormal aspects of exhibition-making (works and arrangements of works that are possible, but not selected), becomes clear. Like headstones marking space but not commemorating entities, only suggesting traces of other works or presentations past, Dedobbeleer’s sculptures lay with the almost crypt-like silence of one ghost talking to another. Likewise, a faint print on paper, “It’s Only As Clear As Its Image Gets”, the only non-sculptural work in the exhibition, pictures one of Dedobbeleer’s proposals for a sculpture, a small model of spherical forms, outside of the gallery, on a coffee table in what could be the artist’s studio. Like the mock-exhibition in the book “Already Uttered on Numerous Occasions in Various Places”, the reference to a pre-exhibition space of experimentation, pictured here as an informal presentation, suggests all the possible works that could be included in the show. In this sense, Dedobbeleer manages to display entities and concepts outside of the exhibition space here as well.