An entrance panel with fourteen doorbells and an advertising basket mark the entrance to the grotto. Inside the basket lays Tee Corinne's The Cunt Coloring Book, first published in 1975. Corinne collected drawings of female genitals used in sex education groups, posteriorly organizing them in a coloring book developed so adults could learn about their sexual anatomy. On the opposite side of the exhibition room, we find 14 repeated images from a doorbell hole filled with bare wires. The first affiliations are simple: between the grotto and a doorbell hole or between the grotto and a vagina.
Using a difference and repetition charade mostly grounded by minimal and conceptual art, perverted by the sense of humor and an overlapping content that denies these movements, the image repeats itself, followed by the evocation of 14 characters who have escaped, taken refuge or lived inside a grotto. The most fertile of all these figures will be Odysseus (or Ulysses) who, in Homer's Odyssey, presents us with the figure of Nobody around which Sophie Nys developed her recent exhibition at the Kiosk in Ghent. Nobody would be the last to be devoured by Polyphemus, what eventually allowed him to escape after getting the cyclops drunk and blind. The injured Cyclops screamed for help telling everyone that it was Nobody who had hurt him.
After the great plague of the 14th century, Nobody arises as an imaginary figure who absorbed the blame in domestic affairs. Nobody was usually pictured between all kinds of broken household goods or with a padlock that holds the lips together. As Nobody could not speak and therefore was not able to defend itself when accused of all incidents in the house. When triggered by who had let the soup burn or transformed the wine into water, the answer would be without any doubt: Nobody! This figure was portrayed for the first time in Germany on a publicity flyer from the early 15th century.
Nobody convokes a kind of a fragile figure politically, economically and socially oppressed by his condition of social class and gender. Those who lost their houses due to gentrification and real estate bubble, those who lost their jobs, etc. Nobody could also be a figure of resistance to the current system that keeps encoding the difference.
Held in the dark, the grotto welcomes a constellation of political and social implications that grant it part of its original premises. The grotto is where new forms of empathy and new cosmogonies can be develop and applied. It is up to each visitor to mentally transport one or more of these figures into the grotto. The following conversation and notes help to earn some of the strengths of Nys' work, which, through simple tools and gestures, aims to review historical and cultural aspects.
The Belgian artist Sophie Nys (1974) brings together different media that examine — not rarely with sense of humor — themes of history and social culture among others. With minimal interference and reduced means, in her practice, objects and images are transformed and repositioned. In doing so the artist poses questions about cause and effect, transience and continuity and opens up new spaces for reflection, narration and resistance. A selection of previous exhibitions include solo shows at Bozar, Galerie Greta Meert and La Loge in Brussels, Kiosk in Ghent, Crac Alsace in Altkirch, Circuit in Lausanne, Projecte SD in Barcelona and Guimarães in Vienna. Her work has been showed in group exhibitions at Helmhaus, Archiv, Haus Konstruktiv and Kunsthalle in Zürich, Kunsthalle Vienna, Salzburger Kunstverein, Prada Foundation and Biennale in Venice, Artists Space New York, Maniera, Etablissement d’en Face and Wiels in Brussels. Sophie Nys holds a MFA in Fine Art and finished a post-graduate program at the Jan van Eyck Akademie. She is a tutor at LUCA School of Arts, Brussels.