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OPENINGS: JOHN BOCK

Ensconced in the cramped, nethermost level of a makeshift three-tiered Dantesque universe, the artist busies himself with some nasty alchemy. His materia prima: some vile, puslike goo. His laboratory: a tangle of tubes, cables, and wires feeding an ad hoc array of whining machines in a space suggesting a MIR space station teetering on the edge of total dysfunction. Sporting one of those grimy Russian tank helmets that resemble vintage college football headgear à la Red Grange, our protagonist is in full-throttle mode as he goes through a set of routines apparently designed to produce “suffering in the artist.” Crying out in largely incoherent German, he subjects himself to various trials—including a lashing from green peppers attached to a spinning Mixmaster—before slithering through a narrow passage up to the next tier. Popping through to level two, he finds his head and arms sheathed

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