Jeroen Jongeleen Takes Over Both Harlan Levey Projects' Spaces in Brussels
During the recent Brussels Gallery Weekend, we've visited the two exhibitions at both Harlan Levey Projects' venues, introducing the work and practice by Jeroen Jongeleen. And although not the type of work we often feature on Juxtapoz, Running in Circles III / Movement and Politics In The Streets Of My City are the type of presentations we always enjoy learning about.
Over the years we've been featuring many artists whose practice revolves around disturbing or subverting reality and constructing subtle glitches in otherwise seemingly perfect order of things. The Dutch artist Jeroen Jongeleen is certainly one of such figures but over the years of actively working in the public sphere, his work got more and more conceptualized and somewhat abstract to the paint that his most recent series consists of him literally running in circles. And while appearing as a futile and nonsensical action, it is in fact a poetic, captivating, and engrossing way of conveying the same message he has been working on over the past two decades.
And the past two decades are what the exhibitions at Harlan Levey Projects are presenting by focusing on the Running Circles series (at their 1080 - Brussels space), and providing an insightful overview of his previous work (at 1050 - Brussels location). From instigating stencil-based "game" The Art of Urban Warfare in the early 2000s as a reaction to hostile post 9-11 world, over pitching up plastic bag flags with his pseudonym Influenza in the urban environment critiquing the branding nature of Street Art and in relationship to consumerism-obsessed society, to repurposing the advertising posters into ready-made sculptural objects and commenting on the way advertising erases the cultural heritage of the streets, Jongeleen has been a persistent critic of the modern, overcontrolled society and economies that developed from it. Working almost exclusively in the public, regularly urban spaces, his simple actions such as collecting the glass debris of new years eve madness (Street Jewels), are uncompromising ways of reclaiming the space for public discourse while planting a seed of curiosity in the viewer's minds. Through constant repetition and the most unorthodox ways of using the public space and found objects, the artist keeps developing mischievous concepts through which existing locations, objects, or texts, are entirely repurposed and often used against themselves.
Such efforts arguably culminate in his ongoing series Running Circles which was started with a 2017 action Running A Circle Clockwise. Employing his feet as a tool and the field as a canvas, Jongeleen ran a full circle on a 5.5-meter radius string for 8 hours consistently while etching a perfect circle drawing in the landscape. Combining the basis of graffiti philosophy and performance art approach with a land art context, and then using technology to create a video art piece, the artist is still creating ephemeral work whose existence points out at abandoned and neglected locations, again subtly critiquing the modern society. Varying in their size and the intensity of the process (from 1 hour run to 100km lines), these temporary traces promote the free use of public space in its purest yet most intense and unrelenting way. —Sasha Bogojev