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The Seduction of The Bureaucrat

De Garage, Mechelen

15.03 - 04.06.2023

curated by: Pieter Vermeulen

installation: What hath God wrought ?

An exhibition and series of public conversations about the (unlikely) relationship between art and bureaucracy.

The artist and the civil servant are far apart, each in their own biotope: the studio and the office. Creativity generally does not conform to forms, procedures and protocols. Yet artists inevitably come into contact with bureaucracy. How do they look at it, and how do they deal with it in their work? Do kafkaesque situations still play out in shadowy backrooms and dusty archives, or does today's office space look different? What role does digital infrastructure play? What do Bartleby's famous words mean “I would prefer not to” within a contemporary work ethic of quiet quitting, bore- and burn-out? Does creativity still make sense in a country where even bookkeeping is creative? Is it up to the artist to seduce the bureaucrat, or is it difficult for the bureaucrat to resist the bureaucratic temptation?

What hath God wrought?

LAb[au], 2016
Manuel Abendroth, Jéröme Decock, Els Vermang
Size: 16 pcs of 60 * 30 * 15 cm
Technique: MDF, custom tailored electronics and mechanics, impact printers, generative software

The title of the installation is a line from the Book of Numbers in early modern English. It was the first message transmitted by telegraph in 1844, the first communication technology on the basis of electricity and binary coding. The artwork is fed by the 100 most used words in Thomas More's book 'Utopia', feeding the correspondence between a series of telegraphs. The telegraphs translate the words into sound and light.

Written rolls of paper drift to the floor. Slowly, mistakes slip into the closed system and the meaning of the words alters. The Morse orchestra deals with the rationalism of the Renaissance and its belief in progress and posits by contrast an aesthetic of a self-regulating system in which the fault rules and the error becomes its driving forces, revealing its own beauty.

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