Cloet will always ask,”What is this?” making people think that sharing art is the main purpose of his visit. “I like to show people how things are made, my system of working,” he said. “I want to ask them to look to the origin of things.”
Mark Cloet, a Fulbright Scholar from Belgium, worked in the Rio Grande Valley for one year. His Fulbright was awarded for study at the University of Texas Pan American, and within days of accepting the post, UTPA contacted me to assist in Cloet’s exhibition. We arranged several scholar talks at IMAS throughout the year, and his work culminated in a major museum exhibition entitled “C. Stone,” that involved regional artists from all disciplines intently working along side him to build the conceptual art exhibit.
Mark Cloet (Ostend — Belgium, 1964) finished his studies of Monumental Arts in the KASK in Ghent in 1989. He obtained his Masters Degree supervised by Mr. C. Vialat of the Ecole d’Art de Nimes and by Mr. R. Bacguet of the Academy of Marseile, France. He received a PhD. and Honorate Doctorate at the Universita degli Studi di Semantologia di Padova, Italy. In 2011, Cloet received a Fulbright S-I-R Award and was given a one year residency as artist, semantologist and philosopher at the University of Texas – Pan American in Edinburg, Texas.
The artist is also the recipient of the prestigious P.P. Pasolini Award “because of his artistic, social and political autonomy, his semiotic studies of plastic art and his applications of this in social and artistic passion.”
In C. Stone, we see the artifact as evidence of a philosophical construct that is intended to be more than a mere aesthetic stimulus. Cloet is a philosopher as much as an artist, so it should be no surprise that his work falls into what is in the vernacular referred to as “conceptual art.” How his concepts are communicated is part and parcel of the work. Cloet conceived the exhibition as a collaborative project and involved as many sculptors, print makers, goldsmiths, graphic artists, photographers, cinematographers, composers, musicians, scholars, curators and fabricators as possible until there were over 80 people working in conjuction with him at any given time. He insisted on creative input from everyone involved. This brought our small community of “makers” together for one year, and it was phenomenal what could be achieved when one man, politely instigated and coordinated the activities of many individuals working together.
If Cloet is indeed a philosopher, then he is most likely inclined to Platonism and concern for transcendent forms. The stone can be seen as a signifier of the landscape, and that landscape is the environment in which the culture and its people are formed.
According to the artists, “C” stands for “Continental” and in this way represents a negation of an unnatural boundary. With the exhibit involving such a number of people, “C. Stone” could also be seen as the name of a fictitious individual created from the many.
The exhibit is currently set to travel and is seeking new venues. The most important legacy brought with the show is the interaction with the public and an ever-evolving nature of the exhibit. It is suggested that the artist and a crew collaborate further at the host site; the installation can be completed in about two weeks once a site is selected and plans are formalized. The initial installation at IMAS ran from October 2012 and was held over by popular demand into March, 2013. It had two components: a media area where two projectors, a flat screen television and three iPhones played eight films in sequence. An installation area included a series of books with drawings, more than 32 fabricated (aluminum, bronze, gold, silicone, wax and even chocolate) stones, natural stones, wedges, and steel vitrines. Also included is a series of “do it yourself” aluminum boxes and large indigenous canvases (cotton grown in Texas and woven in Mexico) with charcoal drawings. The entire C. Stone exhibition consists of 29 sets of installations with a total of 274 components. Installation of this exhibit requires a minimum of 80 x 80 square feet and a 12-foot ceiling.
The natural development of C. Stone has a clear voice in the form of original prints created for the exhibit. A series of lithographs and silk screens were designed by Mark Cloet and printed by the art faculty and students of UTPA. Some prints combined both processes in the same piece. A select group of sponsors and collaborators received one lithograph or silkscreen as a token of gratitude and to keep alive the energy generated by the collective effort. A limited number of T-shirts were also printed with the same design and given to each one of the collaborators who assisted the artist. Signed prints and T-shirts are also available for sale in the museum’s gift shop. Host institutions may also follow the same process, making these objects take-home mementos of the community efforts.
As curator, I authored the label copy for the exhibit, which for me was a departure because the labels are not particularly didactic in nature and became yet another part of the collaboration.
the Philosopher’s Stone…
Ultimately, C. Stone may be about the deconstruction of the idea of the individual author and the nature of collaboration in the context of meta-process (or the process of simultaneously conceiving and managing multiple processes including social, philosophical, metaphysical and physical), required to create a trans-temporal, trans-cultural, multi-media meta-work in which the final exhibitions are only the evolving existential artifacts that semiotically indicate the actual creative work which is the polymorphic kinetic process itself.
… Or maybe it means something different to you ….