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PRINT January 1999

SERMON ON THE MOUND: THIERRY DE CORDIER

I FIRST SAW WORK by the Belgian artist Thierry de Cordier in 1992 at Jan Hoet’s Documenta IX—the “Belgian Documenta,” if you will—and I experienced one of those critical all-systems-alert responses. The objects in question were sculptures: three rank, shaggy, dirt-caked structures shaped as oblong mounds, a bit like Hungarian Puli dogs, onto which objects more or less suggesting reliquaries had been affixed. Two of the mounted contraptions looked quasi-scientific and recalled the test-tube-and-burner gizmos of eighteenth-century genre scenes in which an experiment is being conducted in someone’s study. The third contraption, easiest to decipher, was a cross coated with tarry paint, wax, hair, and bits of hardware, including a flashlight. The whole assemblage had been doused in wine and urine, which accounted for the acrid topnote present from the start. (Other components, including

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