THE ULTiMATE SELF PORTRAIT | SMBA | Frieze | Studio 1.1 | Time Out

Woman in Divorce Battle on Tour 2004
Studio 1.1 Gallery, London, 13 Feb - 24 Mar 04

Greta Blok floats across the tracks of an indeterminate railway line. Like Josette Day in 'La Belle et La Bete' she seems to have a joyfully vague notion of where she is going (Actually it is Montreal at the occasion of the Biennial 2002). It is also Autumn and she is ready; dreamily on her way to a wedding. Ready to kiss the mirror and marry her own true self. With the beast out of the picture a new, self-generated story unfurls.

In Cess Krijen's new show his mother's triumphant recovery from a painful divorce is recorded in the talismans and reliquaries which form a partial narrative as she moves clear of domestic tradegy. The Dutch traditions. or even clichés, of horticulture, domesticity and mercantile wealth are further in evidence in the 'Goldern Garden Sprinkler' (2003), prosaically sited at floor-level, yet transfigured by gold-plating and with a diamond more than usually functionless on its plastic pump. An object whose prime use in promoting growth was echoed in a performance in Paris (at the Foundation Catier) when it sprayed a specially created 'Parfum Divorce' over the twin flowers of Greta Blok and her mannequin double.

A pill, melted from the gold of the jewellery her husband gave her. A glittering pill which will kill if swallowed ('Golden Suicide Pill' 1999, an anti-alchemical allusion to gold's fabled healing properties).

A magazine (G/BLOK) detailing her progress infiltrates the world of the hair salon, airport lounge, the VIP waiting room, and a world of aspirations that her presence coyly and sweetly questions. Divorced women (even in Holland) are rarely seen so powerfully proud. A poster suggests other fabled journeys - into stardom away from mundanity as Cess and Greta pose, having ARRIVED. Cees himself is always at hand, (faithful as few husbands are) recording, elucidating a life in a work that has taken on a life of its own. Ironicaly anti-Oedipal this innocent Jocasta is acompanied zealously by her son in a world created for his mother by her child. The love-story is one of self-discovery.

Delineating literal and metaphysical warmth, Krijnen's drawings anatomise the central-heating system installed in his mother's house with his Prix de Rome prize-money (on show here and at verytrolleyGallery 73a Redchurch Street), further conflating notions of the mundane and the fantasmagoric. Waterpipes stripped bare allegorically heat the re-configured family home.

Especially made for the show in a three way collaboration with Jason Wallis Johnson and Babes n Horny, Cock Block (2004) forms the centrepiece, with allusions to the dreamy ceiling paintings of Tiepolo, (less stormy than the Northern skies of Ruisdael - and altogether less real). The dome of heaven cloaks these phalluses, raises or lowers them in a space that it, not they, control. Desire is contained - libido defused. Turnescent in the vault of Tiepolo's ceiling, whose oculus is one with the imagined urethra of this not too solid flesh, which melts (to mangle Shakespeare and Marx) into air. Spears shaken impotently in a void which disdains the male presence.

All of these pieces propose a secular and jubilant response to the Stations of the Cross in an ascendant plotline that is... to be continued...

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