The work of Wim Delvoye (* 1965, Wervik) often provokes and juxtaposes by aesthetic contradiction. With subversive irony, Delvoye questions standardized values in our consumer society.
Delvoye’s work generates a diverse oeuvre, yet as a basic pattern, many of his sculptures and installations evolve around the body and machines. His work combines beauty, baroque decor, ornamentation and, in opposition, the repulsive and the absurd, to contradict and disturb our perception. “The strength of Wim Delvoye lies in his ability to engineer conflict by combining the fine arts and folk art, and playing seriousness against irony“, says documenta XI curator Jan Hoet. Perhaps his three most well-known projects are “Cloaca,” “Art Farm,” and his “Gothic Works”.
Perhaps best known is his digestive machine, “Cloaca,” which combines art subjects ranging from plumbing to gastroenterology. In a comment on the Belgians’ love of fine dining, “Cloaca” is a large installation that turns food into feces, allowing Delvoye to explore the digestive process. When asked about his inspiration, Delvoye stated that everything in modern life is pointless. The most useless object he could create was a machine that serves no purpose at all, besides the reduction of food to waste.
Delvoye began to tattoo live pigs in 1997 for his “Art Farm”. He was interested in the idea that “the pig would literally grow in value," both physically and economically. The pigs have been inked with a diverse array of designs, including the trival, such as sculls and crosses, to Louis Vuitton designs, to designs dictated by the pig's anatomy. Recently, he tattooed director Ben Lewis with the image of a crucified Mickey Mouse, like a signature, imitating Disney’s logo.
Delvoye is additionally well known for his “gothic” style work. In 2001, Delvoye, with the help of a radiologist, had several of his friends paint themselves with small amounts of barium, and perform explicit sexual acts in medical X-ray clinics. He then used the X-ray scans to fill church windows with gothic window frames instead of classic stained glass. Delvoye suggests that radiography reduces the body to a machine in construction.
Delvoye also creates oversized laser-cut steel sculptures of objects typically found in construction, customized in seventeenth century Flemish Baroque style. Delvoye‘s steel sculptures employ ornaments and details of gothic architecture to create objects like giant rockets or cement mixers. These structures juxtapose "medieval craftsmanship with Gothic filigree." Delvoye brings together the heavy, brute force of contemporary machinery and the delicate craftsmanship associated with Gothic architecture.
Wim Delvoye (* 1965, Wervik) lives and works in Belgium.
Selected exhibitions include: Castello di Rivoli, Turin (1991), Documenta X (1992), Gallery Sonnabend New York (1998), Reina Sofia, Madrid (2000), Centre Pompiodou, Paris (2000), Migros Museum, Zuerich (2001), New Museum, New York (2002), The Barbican, London (2002), Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2003), PS1- Contemporary Arts Center, New York (2006), KW- Contemporary Arts Center, Berlin (2007), Chanel Arts Mobile, Shanghai (2008), CCA Wattis, San Francisco (2008), Venice Biennale (2009), Moscow Biennale (2009), Musee Rodin, Paris (2010), Knockin on Heaven s door, Bozar, Brussels (2011).
Official website: http://www.wimdelvoye.be/