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Wim Delvoye (1965 - )

Related: art in Belgium - contemporary art - modern art

Wim Delvoye: Cloaca - Wim Delvoye [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]


Wim Delvoye (Wervik, 1965) is a Belgian conceptual artist known for a number of unconventional projects:

Cloaca is an installation that produces feces.

The first Cloaca machine was exhibited at the MuHKA (Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp) in 2000.

The machine was "fed" an exquisite meal twice a day, the feces coming out at the other end of the processing unit as a result of the "digestion" of the food.

There are several Cloaca set-ups: the original setup is that of a series of containers in glass on a long table, while the moderner ones are comparatively shorter, digesting food through what looks like a series of washing machines.

The logo and other promotional art work of the Cloaca project are a spoofical mix of the logos of Coca-Cola, Ford, Mr. Proper, and other brands. The feces produced by the Cloaca machines are sold vacuum-packed in translucent boxes.

Cloaca has its own website, www.cloaca.be

Around 2001, the artist asked some of his friends to paint parts of their bodies with small amounts of barium and then have sex in actual medical clinics.

At exhibitions, the X-rays are presented as giant stained-glass church windows [1]. At a distance you admire the abstract forms, but it is only when you come closer and study it in detail that you see what it is composed of.

He used this trick before in his 1992 work "Mosaic". The work consists of glazed tiles bearing an identical image, arranged to form symmetrical and highly ornate patterns. It is only on closer inspection that you realize that on each tile, you see 2 turds -the artist's own excrement! [2] [edit]

Tattooed pigs
Wim Delvoye has been tattooing pigs since the 1990s. In the early 21st century a tattooed pigs project was set up in the Art Farm in China, where there are less strictures regarding animal welfare than in most parts of the Western world. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wim_Delvoye [Apr 2006]


"Our tragedies, our comedies are the extension of ancient sacrifices" (George Bataille, Literature and Evil)


Because he turns his back to the stylistic values of modernism - to its straight lines, its simple shapes, its pure colours -, Wim Delvoye’s art can be qualified as kitsch. One sees the ironic load implied by such a term. Connected to that load is the idea of an overhanging vision, of everyday art glared at by Sunday art, the idea that great culture will always be recognizable amongst all others, whatever the efforts deployed by the popular classes to imitate it may be. Envisaged under the angle of parody, the work of the Flemish artist has often been brought back to his origins and associated with a well-known ensemble not far off from the ‘Belgian joke’, or at least in the lineage of some famous compatriots, such as Marcel Broodthaers or Magritte. The arrival of Cloaca in his work, of which a first version is presented in 2000, seems susceptible to generate another reading of his artistic project, to modify his troublemaker’s image, the image of an inconsequent joker that his previous production could well have shaped. If every major work resembles a diamond whose facets come to life according to the orientation of light, Cloaca places a sparkle of exceptional density on Wim Delvoye’s work, sparkle that reveals the deep thought behind it and that stresses its philosophical and cultural dimension.

--Catherine Francblin, http://www.cloaca.be/encounter.htm [Aug 2004]


  1. Wim Delvoye: Cloaca - New & Improved (2002) [Amazon US]

    Wim Delvoye: Cloaca - Wim Delvoye

    Wim Delvoye: Cloaca - Wim Delvoye [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

    Book Description
    Perpetrator, prankster, unlicensed scatologist--Wim Delvoye wears many hats in this book documenting his exposure of certain hidden--often orifice-related--aspects of our existence. In his new monograph, this Belgian post-Pop artist continues to create works that transcend traditional categorical distinctions--when it comes to Delvoye, we speak not of painting or sculpture but of semiotic installations. His works "Windroos", "Xrub'se", and "Concrete Mixer S.P. II"--all documented here--debunk centuries of Western anal retentiveness in one fell poop. The remarkable list of authors whose texts contribute to this volume--including such luminaries as Georges Perec, Piero Camporesi, Raymond Roussel, Milan Kundera, John Berger, and Georges Bataille--testifies to the deep theoretical, literary, and of course artistic resonance of his work. Delvoye's work evidences a supreme humorous and creative intelligence rarely seen in today's art world--his work never fails to enlighten and entertain with its irreverence and style.

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