A Dubious Pilgrimage 

Joris Van de Moortel


Paperback, 240 x 30Omm portrait, 248 pages, English/French

Joris Van de Moortel is aware of the tension and subliminal power of destruction, of smashing up a guitar, of imploding definitions and expectations. God may save the Queen, but the artist saves neither. The artist Joris Van de Moortel suffuses the viewer’s gaze with discomfort. In times when rituals are being replaced by indifference, the artist orchestrates new rituals in the form of condensed actions imbued with meaning. ‘A sacrament is valid if the proper form, substance and intention are present in its operation.’ These words were written by Joris Van de Moortel himself on the back of the vinyl record ‘A Sunday Mess, Les sept sacrement par Joris Van de Moortel’. As though the artist is speaking about his own work, describing the conditions of the experience of a work of art or an artistic event. Form, substance and intention. This reminds me of Harald Szeemann. All works of art by Joris Van de Moortel — sculptures, installations, drawings or others — are the result of a succession of actions, ritual happenings, post-industrial shamanistic explorations. They are visual ‘recordings’ of time and sound, traces of an era that has already been played. While performing, Joris Van de Moortel is not a persona; the artist does not become material for himself like Joseph Beuys. Joris Van de Moortel does things, finishes things, leads the experiment like a scientist in a laboratory. In one way or another, I am reminded of painting every time. Not of the development of painting in the 20th century, but the painting of the Baroque; the fixed movement of a religious or other scene in an all-encompassing image characterised by excess. Joris Van de Moortel creates something that is reminiscent of tableaux vivants, where considered decisions go hand-in-hand with orchestrated coincidence, where art history is camouflaged by the here and now, where permanent white noise and an enigmatic illegibility is an attitude for creating images, where the artist, in my opinion, does what George Brecht once said: ‘My art is the result of a deeply personal, infinitely complex, and still essentially mysterious, exploration of experience’.

Text: Philippe Van Cauteren