23 01 2013 15:08
L'éclipse de l'âme (2009-2012)
A text by Douglas Park
L'éclipse de l'âme (2009-2012)
As well as being a work in its own right, L'éclipse de l'âme is a progress-report summary of findings and results; an appraisal by Jan Mast of his experience, concerns and development, as an artist and in his personal life. Both worlds very much interconnect. Complex visual and lingual sequences reference Jan Mast’s own projects, his solo work and also collaborations with others, as well as chosen examples of art and culture, Jan Mast’s researches, reading, traveling, leisure activities and especially staged scenes etc. What are otherwise private, personal and innermost explorations, become shared, open, intimate and direct - but can stay unfathomable - whilst mystery and enigma reinforces beauty and power.
Although seemingly a predominantly moving image installation, L'éclipse de l'âme also extends into a bookwork and ephemera with poetry picture postcards. All of equal worth, no hierarchy or status. Single facets of each of these seem to be many potential works or even careers in themselves.
Not forgetting original art objects, ‘Aigle’ (eagle - autographic work on paper) and the cibachrome photographs, ‘Your Eclipse’, ‘Please, dance’ and ‘Le rêve de Saint-Julien’.
L'éclipse de l'âme is divisible into 5 chapters, each comprising 5 stages: 1.) Please, dance on the sea at night (selected extracts from other works by Jan Mast; Jan Mast & Madensuyu’s ‘Collapsing Stories / D Is Done’ audiovisuals; Bruce Nauman’s ‘Flesh to White to Black to Flesh’ and ‘Good Boy, Bad Boy’ videoworks; otherwise, mainly consisting of Jan Mast’s vocabulary unedited, in pure and raw form, with little or no grammatical link, more of an accumulation of archival treasure, comme Gerhard Richter’s ‘Atlas’ of working material and Hans Peter Feldmann’s collected studies of imagery; broadcast on car radio of U.S “electric church” evangelist preaching about good and evil; assorted textual entries); 2.) Looking for the Juggling Man (contrasting with Philip van Isacker’s installation ‘Within The Movement of Time / Looking for the Juggling Man’- which plays traditional art and new media representations of human body and action off against each other; José Val del Omar’s ‘Aguaespejo Granadino’; William S. Burroughs’ ‘What Keeps Mankind Alive?’ - recited to Brecht and Weill’s ‘Threepenny Opera’; Pedro Diniz Reis’ ‘Alphabet’; as studying another language); 3.) L'éclipse de l’objet, l'éclipse du sujet (The eclipse of the object, the eclipse of the subject - Nico Dockx, Ann Veronica Janssens and Krist Torfs’ miniature light installation - alongside Jan Mast’s expanded cinema and cocktail party event at the SMAK Art Museum, Ghent; colour filtered imagery; visual language harmonization attempt); 4.) The Strong Poet’s Anxiety Of Influence (addressing postmodern philosopher, Richard Rorty’s critical essay of same name, about cultural production problems and potential solutions and actual advantages to them; Pauwel De Buck’s soundscape; rural hunting villagers in dialogue with urbanism - the hunter and the hunted in ordinary life; Marcel Broodthaers’ ‘Le Corbeau et le Renard’ as example of disguise, theatre, deceit and entrapment; Rirkrit Tiravanija and Arto Lindsay’s ‘What Are We Doing Here!’ performance’; for a change, some extent of storytelling and climax); 5.) Exit Interzone (women drinking tea and reading James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ and Frederico Garcia-Lorca’s ‘Collected Works’, whilst dreaming their dreams away; introverted imagery of Jan Mast himself, walking through desert terrain, a la Pier Paolo Pasolini’s ‘Theorema’ - in search of God and liberation from socially imposed boundaries; Alice in Wonderland awakening near the nightclub undefined; input from and image of Douglas Park recounting the story of L'éclipse de l'âme - a riposte to the U.S “electric church” evangelist and William S. Burroughs; nocturnal urban traffic; blurred rainy city vistas, après Gerhard Richter paintings; Willem Defoe dressed up as a cat in Marina Abramovic’s ‘The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic’ - portrait of Francis F, Jan Mast’s alter ego; dancing bunny girls from Ulrike Ottinger’s ‘Freak Orlando’ movie - latterday fauns; Jan Mast’s ‘Crypticcrystalcloud’ collaboration with Nico Dockx and Kris Delacourt - emotions triggered via multilayered iconography; then eventually, bread-eating ravens).
Starting with a traditional “leader” countdown introduction, L'éclipse de l'âme begins with an ansafone message left by Jan Mast’s alter ego Francis F, especially for Jan Mast.
Thereafter, many scenarios in L'éclipse de l'âme are split up into incomplete fragments, which aren’t presented in accepted order of appearance, but spread, scattered and surfacing within and between different chapters and stages. In addition to material described, as well as urban and rural, daylight and nocturnal, outside and indoor places, routes and journeys, other leitmotif footage and stories include: deer hunting in Wallonia (referencing Gustave Flaubert’s ‘The Legend of Saint-Julien the Hospitaller’, from Gustave Flaubert’s ‘Trois Contes’); Jan Mast himself enacting otherwise ordinary poses and behaviour, with some element of contrivance, artifice and theatre; a female singer live on stage with a band - looking as though she’s about to vomit - only somehow or other desperately trying not to - although unlikely that’s what was happening.
Appropriately, one of the chosen examples of art and culture is a recording of William S. Burroughs. Very in keeping, given that there’s more than just an element of cutup, collage, remixing, Nouvelle Vague cinema and Anti-Novel literature to L'éclipse de l'âme.
Throughout L'éclipse de l'âme, all material is embodied as functional and informative, yet the still and moving visual imagery is often dreamlike, magic realist and aesthetic, whilst the often diaristic and sometimes script-like spoken word voiceover soundtrack and subtitled commentary threatens to interrupt and even distract. The information overload factor is indeed challenging and difficult, but never impossible or preventative.
Finally, as for the images that Jan Mast is attracted to (and perhaps targets him - as a mutual relationship and rapport) and his unique portrayal of them, regardless of whether the colour and shades are deep and rich, bright and lurid or even more somber and drab, always ends up so irresistibly sensuous and seductive as to become edible.
Copyright, Douglas Park