Sleeves in greater numbers than necessary, collars that become hats, or even new sorts of sculptural protuberances are some of the features of the shirts, sweaters, and trousers created by John Bock and presented in Schöner Linden, 2000. Asymmetrical and playful, the garments have been fashioned by altering clothing that already exists or by putting together different pieces of existing clothing that retain traces of their past, such as holes, frayed hems, or worn-out fabrics. Responding to the principle of functionality, even when they defy logic, Bock’s clothing-sculptures can be worn, which seems to be suggested by their casual arrangement on a rudimentary wooden clothes rack. A video shown on a monitor, which is part of the work, features a friend of the artist who models the garments, emphasizing their—absurd—wearability. Bock created this work the same year he conceived an exhibition for the Museum of Modern Art in New York that was in part a fashion show. On that occasion Bock used models who, wearing clothing he created, were transformed into alter egos of the artist. He exhibited another selection of clothes the same year in a fashion show organized in Copenhagen.
The staging of the absurd, de-structuring existing elements, is typical of Bock’s working process. In the video Astronaut (not reproduced), 2003, the artist appears to undertake a journey inside an illogical and parallel universe, disquieting but also compelling. As if inside his own mind, the artist fixates on a minute thing or an insect, heightening its unexpected potential.
Bock often arranges his videos and sculptures into large-scale installations, as stage sets for performances that he calls “lectures.” Partly improvised, these actions are characterized by an explosion of Dionysian energy that accompanies and punctuates the artist’s use of pseudo-scientific language. Recalling his studies in economics, Bock uses diagrams and formulas along with the objects and sculptures to relate a vision of the world. Actively involving the public, the artist alternates comprehensible language with deliberately unintelligible logical leaps and, following a predetermined script intentionally develops his arguments without ever offering a solution to the theories he expounds.