John Isaacs 'The closest I ever came to you'
18 November 2011 - 21 January 2012
Aeroplastics @ Rue Blanche, Brussels
While producing these new works I was trying to bring together many of the themes, materials, and issues which have been running through my work for the last years. Primarily the works 'en masse' deal with our place as individuals within society, with the sometimes disempowering aspect of our contemporary overload, and the romantic fading memory of a simplified world view in which one's sense of place was denoted by boundaries of personal vision and physicality, a memory which is now transformed into an endless web of connections and information, most of which, though highly omnipresent and totally accessible, leaves us as spectators rather than participators in what we are able to know.
That our 'western' society is in some form of decline, that economic pressures are forcing - once taken for granted - ways of life into recession and generations to follow will be confronted with the implications of our present collective inability to act as a whole, are nothing new. What I hope to find and provide with my work is a framework in which we can open up from the closed and specific nature of boundaries of race, gender and religion to achieve what the foundations of all dreams of progress have put within our grasp and yet left us ignorant of how to utilize; namely that the combined nature of history and our contemporary levels of information enables us to see beyond our personal borders.
That we are now able to transcend our indigenous culture and collectively arrive at a combined view, a consensus is closer than ever before, though of course our inhibitive nature and reliance on technology makes us impotent. The contemporary tension arises between this impotence to change our way of life, our every day guilt ridden complicity, and the very real and near horizon in which we see our catastrophic end. Collectively the human race is like rabbit in the headlights of an oncoming vehicle, the difference is however, that unlike the rabbit, we are informed of it's danger and taught how to cross the road, our real difficulty becomes clearer when we realize that WE constructed this vehicle ourselves, we are driving this vehicle ourselves, and should we stop it then all hell would break lose, and yet it is heading straight for us, with us behind the wheel.
The closest I ever came to you' is the umbrella with which to stroll through this exhibition. Meant as a way into these disparate works which deal with themes of doubt, belief, love and hope, which was both ambiguous and specific, 'the closest I ever came to you', reflects both a highly personal position and yet could encompass humanity in it's entirety. A gold plated megaphone, a chunk of rusted monument, an ethnic sculpture with guts spilling from it, a chariot powered by a child's bicycle, all reflect our dreams and utopias held within the time of their conception and the time of their demise.
I have for a long time been interested in these relative states of evolution, that nothing is in the end parallel, yet what is surprising is that our societies still believe that all of us should be the same, can be the same. It is this educationally entrenched ignorance and arrogance, that has run through human history and shaped our conflicts, shaped our preconceptions of the 'other', not only as we greet them, but as we colonized them. As the colonizer came to know the other as exotic and forced one dominant view, one way of life, onto the other more fragile and unable to resist, so this model is perverted and reproduced in the mechanisms of commerce. The shocking truth is that after all the leaps of political correctness we are still unable to accept that difference is actually the key to understanding one another; that we can indeed embrace all without judgment or guilt and move forward together enjoying and relishing in our shadows and forms that move and sleep to the same rhythm's whatever their beliefs.
This, my third solo exhibition at Aeroplastics is an open question, not a sermon. The works stand before you like breathless guilty messengers, having made such a long voyage through time to your door that they have long forgotten the original 'message' and rely solely on your hospitality, on your intelligence and ability to give the time to interpret the look in their faces.
John Isaacs, November 2011