Woman In Divorce Battle On Tour
The art of divorce, Dutch-style
Can a 17-year-long divorce battle be turned into art? Dutch artist
Cees Krijnen thought so four years ago when his mother received another
lawsuit from his father. "It was all getting too mad, it was
time to interfere," he says. "I asked my mother to perform
with me in a piece called Financing My Parents' Divorce. It was for
the Prix de Rome and I designed therapy for her in the form of a
portable pill machine that blew powdered aspirin into the air. Then
I got the members of the jury, who were all men, to act as prospective
boyfriends like a dating agency. It was funny and they were definitely
No boyfriend came out of it, but since then, his mother, Greta Blok,
has become a divorce celebrity. She has been on a Woman in Divorce
Battle Tour to New York and Paris, is a government and UN-endorsed
ambassador for divorced women and even had a parfum divorce designed.
She has been transformed from a woman in trouble to a 61-year-old
glamourpuss who is enjoying her new international lifestyle. "We
had money problems. It was hard, but the story has turned into a
fairy-tale," says Krijnen. "Our fiction has become our
To confirm her mythical status, he has created a huge statue of his
mother in a gold leather catsuit, which now overlooks the River Po.
As part of the reinvention of Greta Blok, she got married to herself
in an "art wedding" at last year's Montreal biennale. The
event prompted Krijnen to have a body double made of her - Greta
Two. All three of them will be appearing as part of the Body Craze
event at Selfridges department store in Oxford Street, London (May
7-31). "By making Greta Two, we are putting the emphasis on
the individuality which often gets lost in the 'we' of marriage," he
Art or not, isn't it all a bit oedipal? "We have a great relationship
and it has got better. I think every child would like this," he
says. "Sometimes she and I look at each other and we laugh because
everthing has happened because of this silly divorce. Now Greta gets
fan mail from divorced women who say she gives them strength. The
divorce is the best thing that happened."
Oh yes, the divorce was actually granted last year, in Greta's favour.
But the art is likely to run and run.
©The Guardian, UK
22 April 2003