Rotterdam / Joost Conijn / Museum Boijmans van Beuningen

Why would anyone want to put a gate in the middle of an empty desert? Why build a timber car (which runs on wood) and embark on an Eastern European odyssey? Why would anyone want to do that?!

One dimension of the works of Dutch artist Joost Conijn is his manual labour: he has hand-build a car, an airplane and an automatic gate in the desert. It reminds me of the wonders of the industrial age: the beauty of an engine; the magic of a flying machine. This technique however isn’t an end in itself. It’s much rather the starting point for the art works Conijn produces with them.

I think these machines much rather function as ‘social tools’, vehicles that enable encounters and interaction. Wood Car is presented as a video that documents a journey through Eastern Europe; C’est une hek (It’s a gate) documents his journey through Marocco, where he builds a gate in the middle of the desert. Metaphorically speaking: it’s not the car, but the journey; it’s not the machine, but what it allows you to do with it.
Moreover, his alien devices force Conijn to step out of his point of view and into others’. The technique becomes an invented language that allows him to communicate with people he encounters. This is what I value most about Conijn’s work: his ability to find methods and instruments that enable him to step over artistic and cultural borders. Beyond these frontiers, Conijn goes where no artist has boldly gone before, which renders his work with an open and unpredictable character.

Joost Conijn’s work is on display in Museum Boijmans van Beuningen until the 6th of May.

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