Martin uit den Bogaard (NL º1944)

Installation, 1989-2015
Collection of the Verbeke Foundation

Martin uit den Bogaard reduces death to controllable works of art. Using animal carcasses, their foetuses as well as other objects, the artist takes a closer look at the process of decay. He slows it down by encasing birds, mammals, reptiles, food, bones as well as blood samples in airtight glass cubes.

Apart from dozens of exhibits, the installation also features four specimens, including a human finger, displayed on tables in front of Achiflab. The alternating current remaining in the carcasses is measured by voltmeters connected to computers. Specially designed programme registers and transposes the voltage alternations into visible and audible representations. Therefore, every time the voltmeter measures a different voltage the computer generates new graphs and sounds of various frequencies. Even though the carcasses produce low levels of energy, it is still a powerful symbol suggesting the idea that life and death are not opposite states, but actually interact in a very complex way.

Martin uit den Bogaard’s research still continues since the artist is on a constant quest to investigate the difference between life and death. The work not only evokes metaphysical reflection, as it tests viewers’ perception and experience, but also raises questions about artistic conventions and reception of art. As Florent Bex put it:

With his discomforting presentations Martin bit den Bogaard makes the viewers his accomplices and repeatedly confronts them with ethical principles. By presenting his subjects as works of art he might create a certain distance, but he also forces viewers to a different, more attentive observation. The artist points at our ambiguous attitude regarding alternation and perpetual change: on the one hand we are inclined to keep things the way they are, on the other hand we are charmed by the marks of passing time. With these ritualised transgressions, which function as memento mori, Martin bit den Bogaard in the end measures life against death.

Dierlijk bloed, chemicaliën, glas, staal, 1992-1993
Collectie Verbeke Foundation

Dit werk stelt Martin uit den Bogaard’s onderzoek naar de fysieke eigenschappen van bloed tentoon. Verschillende soorten chemicaliën werden gemengd met de bloedstalen ter onderzoek van de gedragingen van bloed in combinatie met andere vloeistoffen. Het resultaat van zijn onderzoek wordt weergegeven door middel van glazen panelen. Deze zijn langs achter belicht, opdat de kleurveranderingen, textuur en andere eigenschappen van het bloed in detail te zien zijn.