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A skydog's time. a skydog's place

The Belgian artist Jochem Vanden Ecker presents the unpublished book “A skydog’s time. A skydog’s place” at RA Antwerp in collaboration with Benjamin Van Esser.The unpublished book will be on display in the bookshop at RA Antwerp, alongside a silent film (1440min, continuous) set in real time, ICT and a large-scale poster created for the exhibition. Vernissage from 7pm, March 15th. An email and text message interview with Jochem Vanden Ecker about his project a skydog’s time.a skydog’s place @ RA Antwerp (March 16th – April 5th) (interviewer : Rik Desaver)

RD : Your presentation a skydog’s time. a skydog’s place consists of an unpublished book, a film and a poster. Starting-point is an artist book Projet pour un livre. Projet pour un film. by Nico Dockx & Helena Sidiropoulos ( published by RA(printed matter) in 2009) which in itself starts from the non-published catalogue of the Marcel Broodthaers’ exhibition of 2001 at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. You focused on the blacked-out spaces in the artist book by re-using them in your book with photographs. Why did you choose for this ‘intervention’ ?

JVE : I like to think of it more as an interrogative expression than an intervention. The subject or point of debate being the status of these black images and the image in general.

RD : These black ‘images’ in the Projet… book replace or refer to images of Broodthaers’ works and turn the catalogue into an artist book. Of course it refers also to what Broodthaers did with Mallarmé’s Un coup de dés… turning the words there into black lines but on the front cover Broodthaers printed the word Image. Do you connect your questioning of the status of these black ‘images’ with these acts and how does this relate to the status of the image in general?

JVE : One could say that the first was a choreography, the second a copyright issue which somehow turns three into the rope dancer that accompanies herself with her shadows.

RD : Where does the title of the project a skydog’s time.a skydog’s place come from?

JVE : It’s the working title of the unrealized skytrain project. Skydog referring to the ghost train, the fact that the dogs in Thailand occupy these places and the conversations between Yona Friedman and his dog Balkis. The time place division grew out of the possibility to reconstruct the traject according to these two parameters. We discovered the first little part only afterwards, after we had already recorded the main part of the project.

RD : So the photographs are recordings of walks along that unfinished train project in Bangkok. Why did you choose for this series of photographs for your unpublished book ?

JVE : It’s a project we have been working on for several years, actually every time we were in Thailand we visited this ghosttrain / traject. We are Nico Dockx, Helena Sidiropoulos, myself and at some point Koenraad Dedobbelaere, Kris Kimpe and Yona Friedman. We recorded the traject and life around it several times but never realized the plans we had for a book nor the ideas for a film. The project and images turning into ghosts themselves. Ghost images. As are the images in the book by Nico and Helena and of course the fact that they’re both unrealized books…

RD : Next to the book you project also a 24 hours film with all the images of that project but you show them when shot at Bangkok time. You made this film together with Benjamin Van Esser under the name seismographic fabrics. Do you see seismographic fabrics as a label, a collective or a platform and how do you see the relation between the film and the book?

JVE : The film is a transcription of the book. Set in real time. Bangkok time. A real time fiction…

RD : And what about seismographic fabrics?

JVE : It’s science fiction. A collaborative folding. A selfterritorializing territory. A flying carpet.

RD : Do you believe in fairy tales?

JVE : Massemat.If it includes rabbit or wormholes count me in.

RD : Lingo. Do you consider art as merchandise?

JVE : Bargoens. It’s in comparison with my grandfather’s ( and his fathers) practice being a peddler ( selling carpets, towels, blankets and other fabrics) that I used massemat. More in the sense of creating or trying to create your own economic system or economy. Publishing as an act of communicating, of creating windows.

RD : In this act of communication you seem to question the status of the (photographic) image. In this project you refer to ghost writings ( ecriturefantôme), copyright issues, the relation image – book. Also there are images in a film that can’t be seen during opening hours of the RA store. Is there scepticism towards the role of the image and his meaningfulness ?

JVE : the film is shown in real time in this case ict/indochina time. it ends a little before eleven. just before the store opens. the cleaning lady will probably see some glimpses of the film as the people opening the store. it's a coincidence….. i wouldn't think of it as skepticism towards..... it’s rather acknowledging it's fullness (of meaning) and considering a multiplicity of appearances.

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