What is, at first, perhaps most striking about Jérôme Poloczek is the great diversity of roles he has held and projects he has initiated or supported within Brussels’s artistic and cultural circles – he has, simultaneously or in turn acted as an editor, art director, graphic designer, performer, teacher and writer, amongst other things – and, perhaps most importantly, he has never felt the need to commit to any particular role or definition of himself.
Whether this is the result of a conscious, ethical decision or not I don’t know – however, this stance, it seems, has gradually crystallized into a position of relative, benevolent distance not only in relation to art, but to himself and his own action as an artist.
This ’benevolent distance’ is, my view, an integral part of his approach. I believe it is particularly adequate and necessary, when attempting to describe Poloczek’s work, to use the word ’action’ rather than ’practice’ which, nowadays, tends to be used as a standard term to describe what an artist does.
Indeed, while the word ’practice’ implies a certain degree of routine necessary to develop and acquire a ’practiced hand’ at making a particular kind of art or using this or that particular technique – ’action’ serves to illustrate the fact that the art of Jérôme Poloczek is mainly concerned with, and revolves around, what may happen rather than what is – it questions the potential of things as yet unrealized, it ponders what may yet become or what can be, rather than propose definite answers to specific problems, or deliver catchy slogans.
Thus, in a recent work, Poloczek invited visitors to ’cannibalize’ far-away strangers by ingesting blood-red pieces of candy containing tiny fragments of their body hair. This was a way in which the public could experience, first hand, the limits of the human body and ponder how its constant state of change and fragmentation may blur the separation between individuals.
In a previous work, he silk printed in red ink the bank notes of passers-by with quotes from twenty six contemporary authors – each passer- by could then either keep the note as a work of art and thereby take it out of the financial system – or re-introduce it in the currency flow, thereby letting the work to other people.
What is common to these recent works, is Poloczek’s ability to address situations of change and evolution, to highlight the potential of the ordinary to become extraordinary, generally through a succinct, elegant manipulation of our initial a-prioris.
In this sense, ’action’ might describe, in Poloczek’s work, the distance that separates the ordinary from the extraordinary, and the vision we now have of reality from the vision we might have of reality.
But there is another way in which ’action’ describes Poloczek’s work - and that is the manner in which it constantly seeks and devises new ways of inducing the public’s action and participation in, or even complicity in (as, for example, in the case of cannibalism), the act of making art.
This emphasis on participation is, in my view, more than a way to make art entertaining, popular or even ’democratic’ ; rather, taken together with Jerôme Poloczek’s growing body of work, it proposes a definition of art as action which, rather than trying to ’give form’ to the ’new’, seeks to transform the objects of reality themselves into vectors of change, exchange and continued transformation ; instead of seeing art as an exceptional transgression of the norm / form, which ultimately contributes to expand it further, art becomes the everyday act of transcending the norm / form to gain a new understanding of reality, of using the known to leap into the unknown.
And this is why, perhaps, Jerome Poloczek’s work is ever characterized by an attentive, ’benevolent distance’ – for it takes simultaneously a great empathy and generosity, as well as extraordinary analytical focus, to seize upon overlooked aspects of the world and offer radically simple ways to rethink and transform our relationship to it.
Hadelin Feront, Galerie Nadine Feront, Brussels, 2013