Bic-dweilen [Bic Rags]

Jan Fabre


Installation, 70 x 56 cm.
Materials: textile

Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp (Inv. no. S0371).

Bic-dweilen [Bic Floor-Cloths] is a in 2006 reconstructed installation from 1979 of the work that originally was presented on the exhibition "Bic-dweilen en wetspotten" [Bic-mopping and wetspotting] in the Jordaenshouse, Antwerp. In this installation Jan Fabre uses a ballpoint pen (Bic) to draw and write on those typical Belgian floor-cloths with a three-colour stripe. Bic Floor-Cloths is part of the artist’s extensive Bic Art production. Every imaginable type of support, ranging from small sheets of drawing paper, sheets many metres in size, mattresses and sarcophagi to the Tivoli Mansion in Mechelen, is covered in blue ballpoint ink.

Jan Fabre also does performances in which he draws in blue ballpoint on reproductions by major artists and then uses them as backdrops in theatre performances. For many years he used the blue ballpoint pen as his paintbrush. The use of ballpoint pens has several connotations. In this installation it is used as an ironic commentary on the world of art. The floor-cloths are covered with drawings and slogans such as ‘Love art live’, ‘I am doomed to art’ and so on. In the floor-cloths and the use of ballpoint, the artist reveals his preference for everyday, commonplace materials.

Fabre comments on the sacredness of the art world. The artist himself describes this collection of floor-cloths as ‘absorbable art’, thereby putting its status into perspective. On the one hand he uses language as a weapon to place himself within a certain system – in this case that of art history and art criticism – while at the same time undermining the system concerned.

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