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Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys | the artist






The artist Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys
Born 1966, 1965, Wilrijk; Geel, Belgium.

Style and technique of the artist: Performance Art, Video, Manifesta,

Since the mid-1980s, their common work has found international recognition. Distance is created by means of totally reduced acting, or by slowing it down or accelerating it in the extreme, and subsequent synchronization, distance which is intensified by the static camera observing the scene completely from the outside. The figures exist in situations of being constrained and excluded, shut off from the outside world


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The collaborative work of Belgian artists Harald Thys and Jos de Gruyter is rooted in a folksy, tragicomic sensibility honed into an experimental dramaturgy. Their video and photographic work use simple, symbolic sets, including the paradigmatic spaces of home, battlefield, urban periphery and community hall. They have engaged a recurring cast of non-professional actors as well as invented or adopted personae spanning the forms of puppets, dummies, plush animals, makeshift robots and rejected toys. These characters continually rehearse power dynamics and emotional entanglements, creating worlds not unlike our own, yet more focused, bizarre and bleak. The artists seek ways to confront marginal, incapacitated, lost and alienated subjects without defining these ‘others’ in sociological terms. In this sense, and especially in their novel use of a ghoulish humour, Thys and de Gruyter broaden the scope of reflection on socially produced behaviour...

For almost 20 years, Jos De Gruyter and Harald Thys have collaborated to produce a highly idiosyncratic body of videos and films, most of which have somber undertones and address unadorned human conditions rather than following a plot. Driven by an exploration of the existential, these films conjure up dramatic, surreal situations and combine a representation of basic human emotions and behavior with paradoxes...

Works