November 24, 2018–January 19, 2019
The films and mise-en-scène sculptures of John Bock are entanglements of meaning and reality. Incorporating installation, performance and film, Bock’s practice is deliberately devoid of singular specific meaning; rather, his works serve to confuse the boundaries of different genres. Using theatrical, colourful material and experimental language, through the creation of various tableaus, the artist creates alchemical ‘zones’ in which hidden fragments of reality are revealed to the visitor. In recent years, Bock’s practice has become more focused on the medium of film. Incorporating videos of his early live performances, his newer work increasingly includes complex film in which he employs various cinematic styles and techniques.
John Bock will present his new film Unheil (Mischief) for the first time as part of his exhibition at Sprüth Magers. Set in a medieval village, the artist returns to the Dark Ages and evokes an opaque and sinister film world. A mother is to sacrifice her sick child to the forest—she refuses, but the child disappears without a trace. A short time later, a stranger with shamanic abilities emerges from the forest and offers to help her in the search for her child. He performs mystical rituals and tricks of illusion with the help of fantastic sculptural apparatuses, drawing the woman into hallucinatory states. In her quest for knowledge, the protagonist loses herself in a web of ambiguous images that reveal partial, suspicious circumstances to her again and again. While the film initially follows a linear narrative storyline, it gradually dissolves into condensed, overlapping visual layers. John Bock deliberately uses filmic montage techniques such as dissolves, repetitions and disturbances to blur clearly definable narrative units and dissolve them into a complex network of associations.