THE DYNAMITE SHOW !
Koen Theys´ "The Dynamite Show" is a kick-ass title for an overwhelming exhibition being held in the otherwise tranquil Herman Teirlinckhuis in Beersel. It remains fascinating how artists are capable, in this perfectly normal country house with a breathtakingly beautiful view of the Breughelian landscape, of developing projects which they can´t get "installed" in our own museums (for example).
Koen Theys (41) can be regarded as the pioneer of Flemish video art. Back in the mid-eighties he, together with his brother Frank, achieved international renown with videos whose raw content, rather than their aesthetics, left a lasting impression. Later Koen Theys made photos, installations and proposals for images in the public space. Along with such legendary ideas as casting a public toilet in bronze, Theys is currently presenting in Beersel five models which are the direct result of a commission from Beersel mayor Casaer. The projects display art on a roundabout and - not without irony - Koen Theys typically composes trash cans and round-lamped streetlights on an immense base which makes one think of a cake. These are splendid models which at the same time express the impossibility of simply air-dropping "fine" arts into the public space. It would take great courage for the municipality of Beersel to decide to actually create a "Composition Publique" anywhere in their community.
In addition to the models, one can see numerous storyboards for recent video films. In these powerful and direct drawings, the visitor can see how Koen Theys works out his ideas and communicates them to his assistants who help in the production.
The masterpiece of this exhibition is the video "The Dynamite Show". In the small back room you are confronted with an overwhelming wall of sound that makes you think of war, fireworks or a violent thunderstorm – all at once. The pictures look like psychedelic explosions, with churning eruptions of colour that powerfully and almost literally roll and flow from the surface. What a visual slap in the face ! This work fills the viewer with an oppressive sense of anxiety and developed slowly from a collage with existing pictures and sounds.
Koen Theys: "I bought the basic images from American companies which do special effects for Hollywood films. This 8-minute film contains pictures processed from almost 200 explosions for which I purchased the rights. The sound is a layered composition of noises from a Hollywood film sound library. Along with the existing sounds I also edited in others which I created myself".
The video "The Dynamite Show" is a treasure-trove assemblage of ready-made material. The film is simultaneously realistic and artificial, capable of stirring the viewer's deepest fibres without imposing an unambiguous interpretation. Koen Theys is a video artist in heart and soul who knows how to escape the gratuitous aspect of contemporary video art with work where the intelligent editing of existing (commercial) pictures produces a realistic, terrifying and even "delusional" visual language.
Luk Lambrecht – De Morgen