John Bock
Germany, 1965
John Bock was raised on a remote farm in a region of northern Germany. He studied in Hamburg, the German theatre capital, and later moved to Berlin, where he now lives. He creates all-embracing performances that are then turned into films and installations, producing surreal, unorthodox, eclectic universes that focus on social criticism. For Bock, objects are a means of capturing fragmentary ideas and retaining them for an instant: his language and the way he produces meaning cannot be separated from their material embodiment. Early in his career, he delivered nonsensical lectures, supporting his ‘arguments’ by reference to diagrams based on social theory and scientism. Later—adopting forms of performance from avant-garde theatre, Dada, Fluxus and anarchist circus—he devised a unique interdisciplinary format that fuses fashion, sculpture, theatre, film, politics, philosophy, music, random chance and performance. He uses this radically hybrid format to explore the limitations of art as a means of representing reality in a complex way. With the ambiguity of his open structures, his works reach out into exhibition spaces in material forms that challenge traditional rules of representation. This is exemplified by Nothingness Below the Jaw (2011). In this piece, a desk visible behind a transparent shower curtain and the aseptic white colour initially suggest some kind of functionality. But when the viewer identifies the objects on the table, it becomes clear that they are actually a chaotic jumble of items. At the same time, the video component shows a touchy dissection performed by amateur actors and a rudimentary, expressionist set that undermines any impression that this might be a science documentary. Bock’s work has been the subject of numerous exhibitions held at venues worldwide, including REDCAT in Los Angeles, the ICA in London, and MoMA in New York. He has also participated in events such as the Venice Biennale (1999 and 2005), the Biennale of Sydney (2010), Documenta 11 (2002), and the Yokohama Triennale (2001).
Manuel Segade