On the work of L.A. Raeven and Koen Theys

Koen Theys is very interested in his work in doubling and subverting manners of seeing and being seen. At the end of the Eighties he made a number of works (Perspective and Balcony) in which he exhibited the audience as an object for observation. In the exhibition La Caisse des depots et consignations presente Koen Theys, qui presente la Caisse des dépôts et consignations, photographe (Paris, 1999) he mirrors the exhibition situation: a hostess giving out information about the artist, is mirrored in the exhibition space by a hostess giving out information about the exhibition organiser.

For the video installation Het Huis van Jan Hoet (Geel, 2001) (The House of Jan Hoet) he filmed the interior of the house of birth of Jan Hoet and consequently mirrored these recordings so that it appeared to be a sequence of Rorschach tests.

The psychic confusion that occurs as soon as we are confronted with such a doubling is further developed in the installations William Wilson was here (I, Glasgow, 1998; II-II, Zoersel, 1999) - park objects such as street lights, benches and dustbins were exactly copied and so become objects worthy of observation, whereas they are normally in the periphery of a park exhibition.

In the performance and video installation Meeting William Wilson, that Theys shows for the first time in the MDD, the themes of the presentation of the audience as object worthy of observation, and the doubling, meet. The title refers to a short story by Edgar Allen Poe, in which a young man is suddenly confronted with his doppelganger who has the same name (William Wilson) and is born on the same day. The presence of this doppelganger brings him into a total schizophrenic confusion and eventually a dramatic unfolding of the plot occurs whereby both protagonists die. Luckily, it doesn't come to this with Theys. The idea of this doubling of the audience viewed as an object, is however enlarged by taking a hundred or so identically dressed twins as a starting point.

It is clear that the 'perfect lover' with Raeven and Theys has a rather sinister undertone that evokes a range of questions around a desire for a so-called perfect counterpart of ourselves. An exact doubling or reflection leads, as L.A. Raeven explicitly put it, to a questionable loss of identity. But aside speaking of perfection this part of the exhibition speaks about aberration on different levels, without ever really making a judgement about it.

Edith Doove - catalogue ‘(In Search of) the Perfect Lover’
MDD/Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Deurle - oct. 2003