New York

John Bock

Anton Kern Gallery

Gradually, the simplest things become exponentially more difficult for the protagonist of John Bock’s film installation Zezziminnegesang (Sissy Songs of Courtly Love) (all works 2006). After opening, with a chisel and mallet, a tin of ravioli, he must then contend with his eating implement: a spoon attached to the leg of an armchair. Eating requires that he turn the chair over, struggle to lower its bulk to the dish, then heft the spoon to his mouth. Small wonder that he takes only two bites before giving up.

Much has been written about the echoes, in Bock’s laborious procedures, of Joseph Beuys’s opaque rituals. Also invoked have been Paul McCarthy’s spirited excess and the Viennese Aktionists’ intense and antagonistic focus on the body. Less often mentioned is the Chaplin-esque quality of the characters Bock creates—hapless but more or less oblivious to their haplessness, overwhelmed and

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