- Aurélie Verdier
(b Antwerp, March 19, 1946).
Belgian photographer and installation artist. He studied theatre and cinema in the late 1960s, creating a fruitful ground for his future installations and later dividing his work into four categories with the aim of blurring the frontiers of art and social reality. One such category, ‘Transformation–Installation’ was rooted in a spoof governmental pamphlet written by the artist in 1979 announcing the bankruptcy of art: he argued that art was unnecessary since it was inherently non-functional. From that point on, this ironic point of view was built into his recreations of everyday environments injected with incongruous elements, as in Driving School Z (1979; see 1998 exh. cat, p. 44), an installation in an Antwerp gallery that recreated the soulless premises referred to in the title. At once bleak and dramatic in its painstaking reconstruction, it contained furniture from a real driving school as a way of blurring the distinction between art and reality. Bijl’s polished installations have an unsettling atmosphere, as they lack any sense of human presence. Tackling issues of mass culture and its vehicles, he reconstructed some institutions in tableaux that mixed the artificiality of highly stylized objects with the tangible reality of everyday artefacts. By so doing, he questioned the identity and meaning of environments once they have been relocated to an institutionalized art context. In ...