The multitalented writer, psychoanalyst and ethnologist Julien Friedler (*1950, Brussels) began his artistic career only relatively recently (1997). Since then, however, he has created a rich body of work in highly diverse media and techniques. Friedler has taken part in a number of exhibitions in Belgium and abroad, but In Quest is his first travelling solo show.
Friedler has constructed this project around one of his books, The Book of Boz, which features a complex hypertext in which three clowns, Jack Balance, The Self and the Writer play an important role. In the text, he not only questions our world, but also creates a series of new myths and answers to them. He cobbles together a parallel universe, so to speak, an artistic world the by-products of which are slowly but surely infiltrating our society, positively infecting it even.
In In Quest, Friedler leads us into a layered, labyrinthine structure called The Spirit of Boz that he gives shape in elaborate installations, intriguing sculptures, gestural paintings and photographs. Friedler sees himself as something of a ‘shaman’, a ‘transmitter/gateway’ of impulses and ideas, allowing the interaction with the audience to enrich the work. This aspect also forms one of the core elements of his aesthetic quest, which is the collaboration and exchange with others in order to create new works. Together, we are all constructing the greater Boz World, across cultural borders, languages, religions and creeds.
The actual exhibition In Quest consists of three sections, associated with the various websites that form an integral part of the project.
In an initial area, the visitor wanders in an installation in the form of a gigantic book. Friedler has plastered the inside of this construction with pages from his original Book of Boz manuscript, and the floor is scattered with fragments of text from it. In this way, the text literally pours out of the book, comes to meet us. Friedler’s resonant messages, translated into tangible material, could ultimately be embodied in the visitor. However, we are simultaneously walking along and through his writing and thought as well. In the middle of the large installation, we encounter various rat sculptures, which seem to be chewing their way through the text/material. Friedler’s oeuvre regularly twists into infectious multiplications and various built-in mirror motives, so that one figure takes over or is consciously assigned the role of another. The rats, for example, symbolise us/we, the ever searching humans.
There seems to be no end to Friedler’s fertile, effervescent imagination and in the second part of the exhibition we are offered a taste of it.
In an analogy with his Boz World, he has conceived this section as a unique art shop, called The Boz Society. Here too we find installations into which he has incorporated various objects of his invention. We seem to be closer to the world of consumption here, but Friedler’s aim is to reinforce his artistic message through the diffusion of these artistic products, such as comic strips, t-shirts, etc.
In the third and largest section, Boz World, through various artworks, we are introduced to a number of core aspects of The Book of Boz. Through autobiographical elements, such as references to the persecution of the Jews in WWII and a series of visionary sculptures, dynamic and nearly animistic paintings or menacing installations, Friedler immerses us in a world out of balance.
Along the way, the viewer is watched at every step by the three clowns, the author himself and finally, we are confronted with ourselves. Is he pointing the way towards a route to potential deliverance, is it time for a radical change?
Exhibition – practical information
Galerie Box38, Rogierlaan 38, 8400 Ostend & Galerie Seghers, Rogierlaan 46, 8400 Ostend
5 August-31 August 2007. Open: Tuesday – Sunday: 10:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M., Admission: free
A catalogue will be published on the occasion of the exhibition.
Info: 059/ 25 13 29, etc. & www.box38.be.