5 of June to 17 of July
We still have to get used to thinking ‘place’ not as something spacial, but as something more original than space; perhaps, as Plato suggested, as a pure difference, yet so endowed that ‘what is not, in a certain sense, is and conversely, what is, in a certain sense, is not’.
From around 1987 till around 1994, I was involved with a work, which I developed, by its own necessity, through a series which I named Tombeaux. The reason why I named these work(s) tombeaux, in French, is that only in French, the word ‘Tombeau’ indicates, besides the obvious meaning of ‘tomb’ also a poem or a musical composition dedicated to ‘someone who is no longer here’. And, contrary to what one might commonly suppose, these dedications are most often not about ‘mourning’. They are occasions to remember someone, to send a tribute. Above all, this idea and practice of ‘tombeau’ is the expression, the concretization of a ‘dialectic momentum’ and signifies ‘memory being an active energy’.
I conceived the Tombeaux works as places for memory, where ‘memory’ is understood as ‘the human faculty of memory’.
It was clear, then, that the name – which is not a title – of these works, by their own definition, never was to be translated and that, by its / their ontological reason, the name of each individual work and of the whole series had to be named in plural, since one Tombeaux signifies any other and all other and the whole series and, consequently, all Tombeaux and the whole series signify one Tombeaux.
In 2005, I started a new work which, by its own necessity, I am developing through a series and which I name Places. Again, by its own ontological reason, each individual work has to be named in plural, since one work signifies all the other and all the other signify one.
Starting from the insight that memory is an ‘active energy’, I also want to think that we all know that the loss of the faculty of memory prepares all totalitarianism. So, I conceive these works as places of memory. Where the Tombeaux works were ‘empty’, by definition full of the faculty of memory, I feel that these new works, Places, are more conclusive – they concentrate ‘meanings’, ‘things that happened’, ‘parts of lives’. They allow and support a ‘fullness’.
The fact that their physical appearance and their presence don’t reveal at first glance and at once their content and their meaning is, of course, a matter of art.
A first group of works, Places i, is composed with the hands of the five cards of the poker card game. The image is based on ex-votos.
A second group of works, Places ii, is based on the image of commemorative plaques, often embedded in the floor of churches or found in archeological sites and where the traditional inscriptions are replaced with the four suits of the playing cards, focusing on how to define a space / place through purely visual elements and strategies.
A third group of works, Places iii, has text. I created an ‘alphabet’ whereby the characters of the roman alphabet are ‘transcribed’ into playing card suit – characters.
Jan Vercruysse

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