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Joris Van de Moortel: Like a Hurricane (You Are Like)

The artist/musician plays with the notions of organised chaos with instruments and sculptures

Planned accidents, organised chaos, displaced objects and eerily silenced instruments inform the sculpture of Belgian artist Joris Van de Moortel. Also a recording musician, the spectre of music, sounds, or the tangible presence of an instrument being muted haunts Van de Moortel’s work. In his current show, Like A Hurricane (You Are Like), Van de Moortel presents 15 separate pieces, some of which are previous works that have been re-imagined and displaced with all ferocity and disruption of a hurricane having torn through the gallery. To coincide with the opening, Van de Moortel reflects on his art with Dazed Digital. 

DD: There is something eerie about objects violently torn from their original positions or stifled, unable to perform their function. How do you describe what you do?
Joris Van de Moortel: Some works are arranged in extreme situations by stripping them of their original function. They seem like attempts to capture and accumulate energy and often feel like time bombs that might explode at any moment. I often use building materials, everyday objects and musical instru­ments or their wooden mock-ups.

I bundle, bind, encase them in wood and Plexiglas cases or hang them from the ceiling in waste bags. The work reminds one of stage sets or remnants of a performance that took place secretly. The sculptural environments are inspired by found situations and atmospheres and have often no definite beginning, middle or end. After an exhibition and sometimes during it, I destroy, burn or run a bulldo­zer over the work to then recycle the rubble into new works. Undoing becomes part of Doing.

DD: Why is sound an important element of your work, even if it is only present in the suggestion of silenced sound?
Joris Van de Moortel: The aspect of sound, or instruments to make sound, which are incorporated in the work and its process could be interpreted in many different ways. Partially I think it has to do with a certain tension of rhythm, movement and the composing aspect of creating music.  But to read it in a more literal sense, my whole environment is filled with instruments, in my studio there is also a music studio where I make music, record, etcetera. I used them all day through while working with the sculpture tools on all different works so, one day a drum kit ended up in a showcase I made a sculpture which was used during performances (Loopingbackwords), and there it was, “Hit the snare, don’t you dare”.  And so they pop in from one time to another, there’s the waxed Marshall, the burned Marshall, the Fender in the glass case (which burst eventually) the stripped bass…

DD: In, Like A Hurricane (You Are Like) it is as if your work has been thrashed around by a Hurricane…
Joris Van de Moortel: Several of the elements in “Like a hurricane (you are like)” are existing works, which at one point were bound together for the installation “All bound, rubber sound” with a giant rubber band (Hoet Bekaert Gallery, Art Brussels 2010). This time however, they have been released from their confinement and dispersed over the gallery space. Other works of the exhibition, like the door of my studio, which I removed from its original setting and framed it as a painting.

The title of the exhibition is programmatic and can be understood as a metaphor for a working process that functions as a modus to let the unexpected slip in and in which everything is in a constant movement and always changing position, so nothing becomes static. It seems that the objects of the installation have nothing to do with each other and only ended up together eventually by some kind of natural force; as if a tornado had assailed the gallery and set the objects free, scattering them around. It is rhythm; motion and a constant flux in which everything has the ability to disappear or multiply itself. And of course we all know Neil Young’s “You are like a …”

Like A Hurricane (You Are Like) at Michael Janssen Gallery in Berlin until November 21st.