Boys & Girls

Job Koelewijn


Multiple, 3 x (200 x 80 x 40 cm).
Materials: wood

Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp (Inv. no. S0420_16).

A quick glance at this installation will evoke what many see as a familiar image, namely that of three extra-large boxes in which Barbie dolls are packaged. However, the box is not filled with the world’s bestselling doll, but a large empty space. The artist invites the spectator to sit in one of the boxes during the performance. Here ‘The natural style’ specified on the box is preferred above artificial beauty. On the one hand this installation by Job Koelewijn speaks very plainly and the criticism it contains, at a time when people are striving for an inhuman ideal of beauty, needs no lengthy explanation: inner form is more important than outer appearance. This moral appears regularly in Job Koelewijn’s work, but always in another form, ranging from sculpture and installations to performances and photos. Each work is based on a familiar element in everyday life, which he then manipulates and uses to his own purpose. Moreover, the emphasis is not on the object but on the thought process initiated by the manipulated object. This approach is linked to a trend in the contemporary art world that puts art at the heart of life again, in order to react to social developments through art. Or, to put it into Koelewijn’s own words: ‘Life itself produces material for art. So the only thing that really matters to artists is awareness.’ On the other hand this work of art evokes a second question, namely, where does reality end and artificiality begin and how are the two related? Indeed, the boxes invite one to step inside and become a doll, in the ‘natural style’ of course, but a doll nevertheless.

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