Tuesday, March 12, 2013


newspaper publication, edited by Mark Amos & Ben Robinson, Edwin Europe Store, London, 2012  

'Cryptoglyphic Runestream’, 'EdZineV', edited by Mark Amos and Ben Robinson, Edwin Europe Store, London, 2012

Cryptoglyphic Runestream

Reliable continuum of numb, blunt, tired, lame and slothful volcanic ash, chimney soot, industrial sweepings and household lint; sad, though reassuring dullness (with immortal guarantee and subject to renewable contract) suddenly gets unexpectedly broken and awakened after surprise ambush by rare advent, discovery and detonation of hidden and waiting supreme hyperactively energetic jewel flower Olympic-torch flames — which flash, shine, burn and reflect — ever bright, vibrant, colourful and fresh. Simple exposure to this image and presence cuts sharp and deep, whether from afar or closer; the same or more applies to actual contact, even if soft, brief, gentle or distant. Exceeding beyond mere symbol status, rather actually being source and agency of tremendous strength and omnipotence, albeit lying dormant.

Too restless to linger around for long enough to be established anywhere, although such fleetingly swift debuts prove spectacular and miraculous (always followed by afterlife later on); scheduled to strike again, at other times, in different places. However, these are no meaningless, empty, ineffectual and limping emblems or gestures; instead, powerful and important beings, entities and forces by themselves and in their very own right. Furthermore, they’re neither impostor or counterfeit of any other example, without pale and false pretenders claiming same throne or crown.

Unintentionally misleading immediate coincidental similarity to many aspects of so much else prove deceptive and false; any resemblance being by accident, never premeditated, deliberate, on purpose — or self-conscious at all. It becomes extremely necessary (but equally difficult) to avoid, resist and defeat this treacherous and counterproductive trap and spell. Only through exercising relevant precautions may the truth be found and benefits reaped.

Loose, detached and portable immaterial chambers are enabled to allow for encouragement of flexible overlap, entry, occupation, crossing and passage. Each holds a completely different contents inside, from which they are also composed: nocturnal darkness and shadows; natural daylight and artificial illumination; monochrome and mixed colours; shade and tone; surface and texture; patterns and shapes; moving and still, familiar and unrecognisable imagery and scenes. Every one is in constant state of active movement and change, as separate developments — and interconnecting, sometimes indistinct or confused.

Specialised equipment, tools, weapons, props, toys and gaming tokens conduct tasks and duties and play games and sports, according to rules and towards ends which remain and persist unanswerable. Powerful mysteries generatively breed and spread, kept forever secret and unknown — except amongst their own number and to a very select few. Exactly where, what, when and whœver’s honour all this is held in, likewise remains an unsolved puzzle, defying all explanation.

Spidery and skeletal cage, seemingly staying incomplete and unfinished, left off at below armature and scaffolding stage, as though not even begun yet; special curio turns out to be noteworthy specimen of substantially using sparse shortage rations: blocked and gaping window-frames and hollow and full doorways stand in for entire walls; whilst sole gangplanks economise upon floors and therefore ceilings, so one single tightrope catwalk bridge prevents and saves many times over the same amount in undue wastage; razor-blade punctuated barbed-wire fireman’s-pole and at occasional intervals playground-slide of tubular chutes and ramps take over from and replace staircase rails and steps; mountainous origami sails levitate overhead, more than doing the work of rooftops. Admirable fait d’accompli, was actually hard-won achievement, attained through precarious and fragile balancing-acts with improvisation, guesswork and (of course!) careful planning. Slat, fence-post, railing and javelin spear quarter-staffs hover, floating, in suspense, stood on tiptœ and hung by fingernails; battling against the most hostile and adverse odds set and stacked against them, nothing or little in their favour; desperate measures are resorted to; resources and personnel, stretched beyond accepted limits; reaching outwards, in the strain to join the next link; targets almost fallen short of, nearly missed altogether; wide gaps in between, only narrowly cleared — they somehow just about manage to meet, touch, rest, lean, tread, lie upon and supportively prop up each other; bonding until set, thereafter, held fixed, secure and locking together.

All this while, during which these (and many other) spontaneous displays of discovery and invention run their course (free from transition and sequence, although always with less direct or obvious relation, gradual revelation applies — not instant clarity), another apparently different and independent process occurs in their midst. What appeared to be incoherence, diversion or sideshow, turns out to be the actual uniting factor, finally completing everything — or at least included and equal alongside the rest; although certainly not ending or conclusion of matters. Sudden unexpected arrival (or invited and gradual emergence) of flat-pack landscape-gardening kit contents introduce, deliver, unload, prepare, assemble and install themselves; ensuing harmonically ordered grandiose wilderness and untidy — but liberated modest civic park palace grounds (with free-range farm livestock zoo menagerie) settle down, assimilating with what was already there before they came; thus, bringing about much drastic alteration, improvement and transformation for the better; also taking up residence and causing adaptation for serving their own needs; previously missing — and urgently overdue setting enables scope to attain — or surpass potential.

Explanation / Apology / Excuse / Attempt

Amongst much else which I got done and that just plain happened during my productive and enjoyable 2005 stay in Ghent, was my hosts, Lieve Laporte and Jan Mast (who together are Light Machine Projects) encouraging me to react to immediate experience and insight gleaned from collected artworks and archives of the Belgian architect and artist, Rene Heyvært (1929-1984). Yet another “best kept secret”. This invitation led to ‘Cryptoglyphic Runestream’. Originally, ‘Cryptoglyphic Runestream’ was to have been included in a monograph or catalogue raisonné on Rene Heyvært, eventually published by Ludion, 'Rene Heyvært'. I’ve since forgotten any raison d’etre behind my devising and usage of the phrase, ‘Cryptoglyphic Runestream’, then how (if at all) it ties in with the subject-matter. Chances are it was floating around at the time and “belonged”, so I added it.

This opportunity came about because during his lifetime, Rene Heyvært actively showed at the late Richard Foncke’s gallery, as had many other of his copatriot and international contemporaries. After Richard Foncke’s passing away in 2004, my hosts, Lieve Laporte and Jan Mast began Light Machine Projects, using the same premises (in Dampoort, a proletariat, multicultural and de/industrialized neighbourhood of Ghent). Earlier, in 2002, Galerie Richard Foncke presented 'Tectonic Disquieta', which was my, Kris Delacourt, Nico Dockx and Michelle Naismith’s multimedia installation, based on earlier explorations we conducted around Galerie Richard Foncke’s space and domestic quarters (a converted former auto-garage). Part of what we christened “Disquiet Tectonica” project. Namely, our "collaborative research project on new audiovisual writing and uncanny architecture" site-visits and ensuing “findings”: ‘Disquiet Tectonica’, Ecole Regionale des Beaux Arts de Nantes ERBAN / Esba Nantes Métropole, Nantes, 2002; ‘Tectonic Disquieta’, Galerie Richard Foncke, Ghent, 2002; ‘Pyrotropism’, 'Utopia Stations', Biennale di Venezia, Venice, 2003; ‘Televator’ and ‘Spectaculation’ etc, 'de Collectie Interventies', MuHKA , Antwerp, 2003-’04. Before, during and after the “Disquiet Tectonica” series, I’ve collaborated with Kris Delacourt, Nico Dockx and Michelle Naismith, separately, alongside others, on different joint-ventures. Same timescale and since, I’ve also written, recited and published in connection with Peter Buggenhout, Cel Crabeels, Yvan Derwéduwé, Philip Huyghe, Kurt Ryslavy, Steve Schepens and Vadim Vosters all linked to the same gallery.

As for Rene Heyvært. In addition to modernist building commissions (where, if allowed, Rene Heyvært insisted on himself staying for awhile — and deeming them never truly finalized, perfect or conclusive), sometimes designing consumer-products and after painting vibrant yet harmonic “Ecole de Paris” hard-edge abstract compositions and murals, Rene Heyvært went on to prolifically author myriads of artworks, with at most only accidental and deceptive affinity to those of anybody else.

Unassuming, humble and familiar everyday-life readymade found objects (tree branches, hardware, matchboxes, cleaning equipment, ruled and graph stationery and exercise-books, worn-out overused footwear, human and animal foodstuff packaging, wooden units, wallpaper, sewn and appliquéd textiles, sheet metal, empty containers, cutlery, newspapers, cord, souvenir picture postcards etc). Subjected to drastic transformation, through sometimes deceptively simple, but usually startling interventions, as well as more obviously labour-intensive care, skill, force, devotion, obsessiveness and fanaticism. Often, rendered futile, even potentially harmful, when compared against expected purpose, quality, meaning and association. Especially when 1st encountered, discovered or met, they automatically arrest, lure, disturb, intrigue, fascinate and haunt, in equal measures, simultaneous and alternating. Thereafter, same quality or even charisma that is their distinct specialness persists. Spartan and austere, maybe dismal, abject and hopeless, sometimes with a certain bleakness and tragedy, none aren’t marvels or lacking warmth, enigma, magic and even richness and generosity (beyond mere kitsch, mystique, charm and drama). At the very least, they can resemble some craft, folk artifacts, plaything toys and functional tools. An inevitable side-effect is of escapist memory-lane nostalgia and more serious social history, given that with the passage of time, Rene Heyvært’s components have physically aged and culturally dated, whilst staying recognizable.

However, the most important and serious factor brought across and come through is sensing Rene Heyvært’s experience, system, improvisation and discipline invested to produce them. Its highly likely that Rene Heyvært probably never intended much or even any idea, image, æsthetic, message, symbolism or purpose, either to his vocabulary spoken or inflicted changes. Apparent issues of use-value, consumerism, dependency and involvement thereof (or even critique, satire, derisiveness, questioning, subversion and transcendence of utility) become decoy clue false-trail. Because Rene Heyvært’s main motive for this venture was seemingly distraction away from (and to some extent defeating?) severe and ongoing illness, pain, suffering and distress endured over most of his adulthood; possibly hopefully towards achieving higher states, far apart and beyond from there. The conditions and appearance Rene Heyvært donated to quite a few of his works could possibly suggest intentional concerns of injury and healing (impaling through, acupuncture spells and voodoo surgery, blockage and covering, cutaway features, extracted hole removal, splitting apart, flat compression, binding together, joined link-up etc).

Not trivial curios by any means. Rene Heyvært’s creations could almost qualify as candidates for Stéphane Mallarmé's “œuvre pure” (pure work — despite that being an urn), or even the “œuvres originale” (original / unique works — unlike any other), which the captives had to invent and fabricate in Raymond Roussel’s 'Impressions d’Afrique'.

Another involuntary and coincidental but nonetheless misleading faux-ami red-herring is mutual similarity shared between some of Rene Heyvært’s output and that by others. I remember (for various reasons) getting reminded of aspects and specific works of: Carl Andre, Giovanni Anselmo, Joseph Beuys, Alighiero e Bœtti, Constantin Brancusi, George Brecht, Marcel Broodthærs, Juan Brossa, Andre Cadere, Lygia Clark, Bill Cullbert, Marcel Duchamp, Robert Filliou, Lucio Fontana, Iqbal Geoffrey, Susan Hiller, Sol Lewitt, Li Yuan Chia, Bernd Lohaus, Man Ray, Tim Mapston, Marcel Marien, Guy Mees, Bruno Munari, Martin Naylor, Helio Oiticica, Meret Oppenheim, Blinky Palermo, Gina Pane, Peter Rœhr, early pre-“Combine” Robert Rauschenberg, Dieter Roth, Reiner Ruthenbeck, Robert Ryman, Rudolf Schwarzkogler, Daniel Spœrri’s 'Optique Moderne', Niele Toroni, Amikam Toren, Richard Tuttle, Carel Visser, Franz Erhard Walther etc (not forgetting more general group, tendency, genre and idiom categories such as: aktion reliks and props, Arte Povera, COBrA, Fluxus game toolkits, Nouveau Realisme, Supports / Surfaces, Surrealist Objects, Zerogruppe etc — whilst excluding figures emerging and active after Rene Heyvært’s time).

A lame plan of mine (which I soon rejected as not good enough!) was for an artist’s page, whereby a mock group exhibition invite / art magazine advert (as though some cast / credits casualty score by some blue-chip commercial art gallery), would be made to appear as though torn from source, with a crudely scrawled X crossing everything out, as well as other “corrections”. A latterday updated descendent of Marcel Broodthærs’ 1st editioned work as a visual artist. 'la Faute d’Orthographe (mea culpa)', Editions Galerie Smith, Brussels, 1964. Whatever Broodthærs might’ve done, after seeing his name misspelled on the group print portfolio prospectus / order coupon — so he indicated and put right the mistake. A facsimile reproduction became Marcel Broodthærs’ contribution — standing out alongside otherwise COBrA, informele and taschiste works sharing the same portfolio. Another ancestor is still more 1960’s published art / artist’s ephemera. Alighiero e Bœtti’s 'Manifesto', Galleria Sergio Toselli, Torino, 1967. An empty envelope, printed with an unalphabetical sequence of various “Arte Povera” artist’s surnames (Paolini, Fabro, Gilardi, Piacentino, Nespolo, Zorio, Pistoletto, Bœtti, Simonetti, Kounellis, Ceroli, Pascali, Icaro, Mondino, Merz, Schifano), each entry followed by a combination of non-verbal signs. Some examples with hand coloured lettering. Supposedly, added up into and spelling out undecipherable, encoded and cryptic secret-messages — originally promised to be made known after Alighiero e Bœtti’s death — only for the heirs to insist on keeping it all undivulged. However, its other works than these by both Marcel Broodthærs, Alighiero e Bœtti and Arte Povera in general which came to mind when studying Rene Heyvært’s time-capsule treasure-trove.

Despite some outlet and exposure during his later times, its unclear (at least to myself, despite enquiries asked) as to what, mutual awareness, connection, interest, influence or esteem Rene Heyvært, his contemporary peers and the artworld rightly or wrongly had, regarding each other, their concerns and practice.

Possible inadvertent, self-conscious or maybe deliberate and premeditated advantages to Rene Heyvært seeking and / or accepting shows could’ve been scope for sharing, intimacy and exchange. Rene Heyvært performed live several times. Apparently, repetitive (or varying?) manipulation of hinged wood devices. En par with body-art “zerreisprobe” (endurance-tests), but for his own self-therapy, not making profound statements (despite some inevitable ritual-factor). His opus also includes items more like “art”. As well as earlier efforts (more directly part of architecture), Rene Heyvært painted and drew, to some extent resembling diverse bedfellows spanning: COBrA, Sol Lewitt, Guy Mees, Blinky Palermo, Dieter Roth, Robert Ryman, Rudolf Schwarzkogler, Supports / Surfaces, Niele Toroni, Richard Tuttle etc. Close-up photographic studies, documenting observations and possibly even interventions of overlooked places. Objects (blades, coat-hangers, spoons, dustpans, sweeping brushes, processed postcards etc) sent loose through the post (“mail art” — but interpersonal gifts, not part of the “eternal network”). Even several limited edition prints, multiples, publications and some ephemera. It seems that for whatever cause and reason, Rene Heyvært never openly collaborated with other creative and cultural types.

However isolated, maverick and nearly outsider, Rene Heyvært’s (choice, circumstance, strategic?) art-status, he still had an architectural career and friends, acquaintances, family and professional contacts. Private correspondence survives (in several languages). There were several personal, working and research travels to other European countries and also the United States.

Lieve Laporte and Jan Mast also took me to 2 Rene Heyvært buildings, both in the Ghent area. 1, a smart and impressive city town-house, with some fixtures on the façade, by no means plain, yet still visually impressive, though not decorative or ornamental either. The other, outside Ghent, more “lived-in” and domestic, suburban, 1 1/2 storey wide bungalow, nextdoor neighbour to wide open rural countryside farmland fields. Very nice occupying residents. 1 or 2 Rene Heyværts still there, such as a kinderkunst fridge-magnet looking impasto outburst (hybrid cross-between Robert Ryman and the COBrA group etc). The ultimate attraction for me, a brutalist but larval organic corrugated fire-escape staircase chute, outdoors, on the left-hand side.

Back to my ‘Cryptoglyphic Runestream’. As often, whether I generate literary prose / written art or almost-kinda-normal “essays” and “supportive backup info”, I followed up everything which came to me, I was told and found out (give or take extant ideas I’d already had and others arising). I strove to make the phrasing and words knotted and twisting, causing struggle and difficulty to read and take in (even for me!), whilst desperately wishing any challenge I inflicted paid off for the struck target prey victim on the receiving-end.

In the end, Ludion changed their minds, deciding against my and other invited contributor’s unorthodox input. Jan Mast’s own fictitious letter to Rene Heyvært was also not wanted on voyage. Ludion accepted Light Machine’s graphics, partial editorial — and fact that so much in the Rene Heyvært estate is handled by them. For whatever reasons, I’m sometimes wrongfully described as being in Ludion’s 'Rene Heyvært' book — which I’m not. Regardless of my exclusion, absence and loss (which becomes sympathetically in keeping with Rene Heyvært’s works!), Ludion’s 'Rene Heyvært' is still more than worth checking out, just to shed some light on this figure and what they did, as well as the sheer experience of reading, consultation and looking.

Since then, the dramatist, Pol Heyvært (of Campo theatre company — and nephew of Rene Heyvært) has worked with author, Paul Mennes, to stage the play, 'Rene', a multimedia work (with music by Das Pop), all about the life, times and personality of Rene Heyvært, very much drawn from writings about and by Rene Heyvært, as well as accounts from those who knew him. Pol Heyvært’s 'Rene' consists of an audition for the part of Rene Heyvært (or even to actually be him), then the problems of selecting who (if anybody) is right.

©, Copyright, Douglas Park

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