The Ape from Bloemfontein
Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys
Cinémathèque Robert-Lynen, Paris
Tuesday, December 8th, 2015
Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys, The Ape from Bloemfontein, 2014. Courtesy of the artists
In the cloakroom of life, modern times pull their monotonous cartage and draw on our lips an idiot look; our dreams follow the crazy footsteps of their values. In The Ape from Bloemfontein Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys, with their very black and caustic humour, film four ordinary mutic and static characters, with an empty gaze that look like a reconstitution from an anthropological Museum or from Madame Tussauds'.The characters are filmed like clueless and dehumanized ominids, who are not any more hunters-gatherers but isolated and alienated workers-buyers! While the deafening vacuity of the scenes assails us, a voice-over tells in Afrikaans, the incredible, goofy and cartoony adventures of Jaap who was a chicken and also a monkey and who used to own a computer which was also a lawnmower on which he was watching TV…
Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys have never brought as far the discrepancy between sound and image, the dissonance between fiction and reality, the divergence between real space and mental space. Never had they pushed as far their theatre of the absurd, turning people into statues, or Pietà with modern neuroses, while Jaap, the monkey transforms an old woman and a ladybug in a potato… They take us on a travel where people went crazy, on a kind of Planet of the Apes where people are like animals in a cage, anesthetized wax dolls of a desperate and grinning Madame Tussauds' Museum.
Born in 1978 in Los Angeles, Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys were born respectively in 1965 in Geel and 1966 in Wilrijk, Belgium. They live in Brussels and have been working together since 1987. Among their most recent exhibitions: in 2015, Fine Arts, Raven Row (London), MCA (Chicago), MOMA PS1 (New York); in 2014, Das Wunder des Lebens, Kunstalle (Vienne). They are represented by the galleries Micheline Szwajcer (Brussels), Isabella Bortolozzi (Berlin), and Gavin Brown (New York).