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S.M.A.K. presents Joachim Koester Maybe One Must Begin with Some Particular Places

S.M.A.K. presents Joachim Koester Maybe One Must Begin with Some Particular Places, an exhibition on view 20 November 2012–10 March 2013.

Joachim Koester, Maybe One Must Begin with Some Particular Places, 2012. Installation view. Courtesy Joachim Koester and Jan Mot, Brussels / Mexico City

With Maybe One Must Begin with Some Particular Places, S.M.A.K. presents a profound overview of the work of Danish artist Joachim Koester (b. 1962, Copenhagen). As S.M.A.K. builds on an engagement with the artist, we are proud to present the show in Ghent. His artistic practice relies on a complex concept of docu-fiction, melding historical, journalistic or personal enquiries with fictionalized accounts. In his oeuvre, Koester focuses on gaps and ambiguities in the writing and reading of history, her eccentric protagonists and her stories and myths.

A selection of more than twenty works from the last thirteen years shows a search for expressions of vanished histories that doesn’t only lead us towards physical locations but also past several intangible dimensions of human existence. Works such as Nordenskiöld and the Ice Cap (1999–2000) and Message from Andrée (2005) depart from a literal geographical exploration of Greenland and the Arctic to rewrite the forgotten history of expeditions to these areas. In Morning of the Magicians (2005) and One + One + One (2006) Koester shows how his exploration of the remnants of the Abbey of Thelema, a commune in Sicily led by occultist Aleister Crowley, not only focusing on physical remains but also delving into the history of the occult and shamanistic rituals.

For the last years, the artist’s preoccupation with the human body and its ‘terra incognita,’ its subconscious, is increasingly brought to the foreground. In My Frontier is an Endless Wall of Points (2007), Koester focuses on the work that Henri Michaux made under the influence of the drug mescaline, and in Tarantism (2008) he investigates the language of the human body and the knowledge evoked by certain trance-provoked gestures through a choreography of uncontrolled, compulsive movements. In several of his latest works corporality plays a central role. These works could be read as personal interpretations of traditional spiritualist and shamanic rituals. Maybe One Must Begin with Some Particular Places (2012) focuses on the experimental theater of Jerzy Grotowski’s psycho-physical exercises, which explore the intersection of performance, anthropology and ritual; and Of Spirits and Empty Spaces (2012) is based on the writings of John Murray Spear—an American spiritual activist who during the industrial revolution organized séances with the aim to develop a more user-friendly sewing machine through communication with spirits.

Through strategies of montage, archiving and storytelling, Joachim Koester illuminates and complicates historiography. Films, photographic series and installations about pioneering expeditions, esoteric movements and psychedelic experiments form parallel storylines with one common denominator: tracking along the boundary of the unknown.

Exhibition curated by Thomas Caron.

B-9000 Ghent, Belgium