The project Dangling Man is a group exhibition based on Saul Bellow’s first short novel from 1944. As a book Dangling Man tells the story of a young man named Joseph who lives in Chicago. He is waiting to be inducted into the army, but his departure to the war Europe is delayed several times for different administrative reasons. Joseph is a recent graduate in history, an educated human being, but during the period of almost a year that spans the book, his army career becomes ever more unlikely, sometimes he is overtaken by fits of violence. Dangling Man deals with the increasing psychological burden created on the one hand by a growing ‘sense of personal destiny’ and on the other hand the impossibility to meet up to this personal highest standard. The book is long on reflection, and short on action.
Julien Bismuth (1973, Paris) is both an artist and a writer. His work moves between the fields of painting, drawing and installation and displays an important interest for narration and performance. Untitled (Salt Flat) are a series of salt crystal paintings that call to mind grey, molecular landscapes. Several stories were written by Bismuth specifically for these monochrome mineral paintings. As different episodes of a 25-part radio play these will be played every day of the exhibition. The plays are spoken by different male and female voices – among them Bismuth himself – accompanied by a musical score by Giancarlo Vulcano. In the different (chemical) relations the salt crystal paintings seem to reflect the stories and the tensions between its characters. A small sculptural work consists of a pair of shoes overgrown with crystals, both an image of immobility, death or of escape.
Joe Bradley (1975, Maine) combines rectangular, store bought canvases in the form of either abstract or anthropomorphic, primitive figures. Unlike minimalism’s objects, Bradley’s structures have tender surfaces, composed of cotton, linen or vinyl in different colors and shadings and their characters engage in elementary narratives that have been described as primitive rituals. For Dangling Man Joe Bradley made a new series of works in flesh tone vinyl. They include a full standing figure, one bust and one head.
Jef Geys (1934, Leopoldsburg) work radically deconstructs the ‘sense of personal destiny’ and shows us the institutions that have been created by society to keep the ‘out of place’ or the ‘unhinged’ in line with the dominant ideology: fast cars, the illusion of home, the army… Between 1963 and 1965 he designed a coloring book for adults with seven pages of topics. The topics were the world, the body, the masculine, the dream (cars as vehicles to shorten the distance between work and boredom), and the house. The coloring book was recently printed in an edition of 25 and distributed among the children of the 6th grade of the Realschule Kreuztal in Siegen in Germany. These books will be shown alongside one set of wall plates of all the different pages.
Sean Lynch (1978, Kerry) work revisits particular, idiosyncratic events of history and is engaged in the friction of memory and revolution, often referring to Walter Benjamin’s notion of ‘Revolutionary Nostalgia’. In 2007 he made a reconstruction of a particular Joseph Beuys sculpture called Irish Energies that was originally made by Beuys’ short trip to Ireland in 1974. At the time Beuys had an exhibition in Dublin called A secret block for a secret person in Ireland as he believed Ireland to be one of the last outposts of civilization. In retracing and staging Irish Energies today, Lynch seems to be underlining both the similarities between 1974 and today and the absurdity of assuming that art is forever. The short on action, long on reflection style of the book Dangling Man will resonate with a post-minimal approach to sculpture and painting, that is predominant in the different bodies of work in the show and their ability to communicate something about the world without per se having to leave the confines of art and the limits of the existing or canonic artwork as a material object.