Jurisprudence

Corpus Delicti

Corpus Delicti (with apology to a brilliant American)

Mixed media drawing on 300gsm Canson 100% cotton paper
115 x 94cm (framed in a deep black box frame)
2015


Artist's statement

After recently purchasing an old book on Dutch Roman Law: Van der Linden's Institutes of the laws of Holland by J. Van der Linden published in1914, I have decided to immerse myself in a series of new mixed media works and a solo exhibition entitled Jurisprudence. Broadly speaking Jurisprudence is the science which teaches us what is just and unjust in contemporary society.

As an artist, I have always been interested in contemporary society's concepts of guilt, accountability, judgment and hence the law and ideas about "a suitable punishment". I read two newspapers every morning and follow current world news with a keen interest. The very recent Charlie Hebdo magazine murders in Paris by Muslim extremists fuelled my interest even further. Charlie Hebdo is a French satirical weekly magazine featuring cartoons, reports, polemics, and jokes. Irreverent and stridently non-conformist in tone, the publication describes itself as above all secular and atheist, far-left-wing, and anti-racist publishing articles on the extreme right (especially the French nationalist National Front party), religion (Catholicism, Islam, Judaism), politics, culture, etc. According to its former editor Stéphane Charbonnier, the magazine's editorial viewpoint reflects "all components of left wing pluralism, and even abstainers". The magazine has been the target of two terrorist attacks, in 2011 and in 2015, presumed to be in response to a number of controversial cartoons of the prophet Muhammad it published. In the second of these attacks, twelve people were killed, including Charbonnier and several contributors.

Justice, in its broadest context, includes both the attainment of that which is just and the philosophical discussion of that which is just. The concept of justice is based on numerous fields, and many differing viewpoints and perspectives including the concepts of moral correctness based on ethics, rationality, law, religion, equity and fairness. Often, the general discussion of justice is divided into the realm of social justice as found in philosophy, theology and religion, and, procedural justice as found in the study and application of the law.

Ideas of gender, masculinity and sexuality are still, and always will be interwoven in these new works. As always, my latest works indeed contain second and often "hidden" narratives.

The first work in this series Corpus Delicti (with apology to a brilliant American), was undoubtedly sparked by the Charlie Hebdo murders in Paris and investigates the process of criminal investigation. Criminal investigation depends firstly and chiefly on the certainty that a crime has actually been committed, or, as it is usually expressed, there must be proof of a corpus delicti. The latter becomes very interesting when studied from different perspectives and especially from the perspective of the "terrorists". I have long been fascinated with "freedom of speech" and how far the concept can be pushed before becoming insulting and or blasphemous. As an artist, I am curiously interested about both sides to a story and obviously the "truth of the matter" which is sometimes difficult to ascertain.

This work is an ironic take on an appropriated image by a brilliant American photographer, hence the title: Corpus Delicti (with apology to a brilliant American). Appropriation in art is the use of pre-existing objects or images with little or no transformation applied to them. The use of appropriation has played a significant role in the history of the arts (literary, visual, musical and performing arts). In the visual arts, to appropriate means to properly adopt, borrow, recycle or sample aspects (or the entire form) of human-made visual culture. Notable in this respect are the Readymades of Marcel Duchamp. Inherent in our understanding of appropriation is the concept that the new work recontextualizes whatever it borrows to create the new work. In most cases the original 'thing' remains accessible as the original, without change.

As always I choose to describe the conceptual background informing my work rather than to give any literal interpretations by merely trying to explain the specific "meaning" of symbols or iconography used in a specific work. However, the deliberate use of mixed media (archival pigment print, Lyra pencil drawing, acrylic, oil, metal leave and needlepoint) obviously aims to strengthen my message and personal meaning in the work.

For future works in my Jurisprudence series, I will critically look at current news events dealing with concepts of guilt, accountability, judgment and hence the law, as well as ideas about "a suitable punishment" and hence resulting in new visual texts.

Detail: Corpus Delicti

Detail: Corpus Delicti

Detail: Corpus Delicti

Detail: Corpus Delicti