A Funny Thing Happened...
Ronnie van Hout
December 13 1997 - January 11 1998
Ronnie van Hout is an artist who is similarly attracted
to the period between childhood and adulthood, as a zone in which
a certain degree of failure is almost a given. Recently van Hout
has taken to representing larger issues (such as wars and potential
alien invasions) with the paraphenalia of play. An over-grown
child, van Hout uses models and miniatures to convey his adult
In A Funny thing Happened, a souped-up hotrod model by
the late great ? is placed in the centre of the room, escaping-eyes
bulging and tongue lolling-from a couple of aliens. The aliens
are revolting blobs, covered in multiple eyes. But it turns out
they are people just like you and I, as their internal dialogue
is played out via custom-made CD and hidden speakers. "Where are
we?" they bleat in a panic. "Shit! Shit!" they mutter. Their mission
has failed, and they are doomed. "Help me!" they cry in chorus,
echoing the classic line of the poor protagonist in the 1950s
film The Fly. Indeed, if you look closely, you will find
van Hout has put a fly with human legs on the wall...a reversal
of the fly with a human head from the movie, perhaps hinting at
the parallel universe from whence the eye-covered blobs originated.
At any rate, their plan for world domination is encapsulated in
a framed collection of battle insignias from the very war toys
with which van Hout is so obsessed. An ode in miniature to the
fascistic programme of much minimalist painting, the insignias
are enshrined in a white frame like so many Maleviches and Mondrians.
In the end, the viewer cannot decide whether the diorama presented
is an elaborate game in the hands of a child (van Hout), or whether
in fact (as in the final sequence of Men In Black) the entire Earth
as we know it is just a game, an elaborate joke, in the hands of
a very juvenile deity.
Cosmic propositions in a humourous package continue to consititute
the van Hout oeuvre. Just as the aliens themselves are locked
into a vortex of doom... living their life in an earthling's art
gallery and perpetually reenacting a crash landing. Nietzche's
"eternal return" meets the pizza-monsters from Star Trek in an
unnerving but ultimately comic tableau.