JAN FABRE (BE, º1958)

I spit on my grave (hommage to Boris Vian)
Installation, 2007
Collection of the Verbeke Foundation

I spit on my grave (homage to Boris Vian) is an installation consisting of more than 320 granite tombstones of which some thirty were edited by the engraving of names of insects. On some stones were engraved names. Instead of the artist names were the names of insects carved in the granite. The birth and death dates that were written under the insects names, make it possible to ‘associate’ the insects with the artists and scientists on the list of names. For this installation the Belgian musician Serge Verstockt composed, in collaboration with Jan Fabre, specific music.

The meanings of I spit on my grave are multiple. On the one hand, the work is a reflection on the ‘vanitas’ of recognition and honor, a theme that is very relevant for Jan Fabre at a time when he is welcomed as a star-international artist. In addition, the reference to people via animal names refers to the fascination of Jan Fabre for the insect world, as studied in the 19th century by the eponymous French entomologist Jean-Henri Fabre (1823-1915).

In april-May 2007 the plant was built up in the Verbeke Foundation in Kemzeke in front of Jan Fabre who oversaw the manual engraving of the names in the granite tombstones. Then the blocks were, together with Jan Fabre, placed in such a way that they recall the huge ice floes at the work ‘Das Eismeer’ (1823-1824) of the German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840).

Sinds zijn eerste realisatie van Ik spuw op mijn graf in de Verbeke Foundation te Kemzeke, creëerde Jan Fabre nog drie andere installaties waarin het internationale sterdom van de kunstenaar met enig gevoel voor humor gerelativeerd wordt. In zijn installaties tijdens de Biënnale van Venetië (2007), tijdens de tentoonstelling L’Ange de la Métamorphose in het Louvre te Parijs (Frankrijk, 2008) en tijdens de tentoonstelling From the Feet to the Brain in het Kunsthaus Bregenz (Oostenrijk, 2009), keert de referentie naar kunstenaars via insectennamen die in granieten grafstenen gegraveerd zijn, steeds terug.

Since his first realization of I spit on my grave at the Verbeke Foundation in Kemzeke, Jan Fabre created three other installations in which the international stardom of the artist with some sense of humor is put into perspective. In his installations during the Venice Biennial (2007), during the exhibition L’Ange de la Métamorphose at the Louvre in Paris (France, 2008) and during the exhibition From the Feet to the Brain in the Kunsthaus Bregenz (Austria, 2009), the reference to artists through insects names that are engraved in granite tombstones, are recurring.