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THE DISGUISE OF OBJECTS GERT SCHEERLINCK



GERT SCHEERLINCK


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GERT SCHEERLINCK: THE DISGUISE OF OBJECTS Publisher: Gert Scheerlinck, Belgium, 2017 www.gertscheerlinck.com

Contributions by: Jorge Antonio Fernandez Torres Claudine Hellweg Marc Vonck

Translation: Ivy Vanderheyden Lynn Tanghe

Cover: The Balloon, 2016

© Gert Scheerlinck all images © the authors of the texts No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior permission of the copyright holders and of the publisher All rights reserved ©

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PREFACE

Gert obtained his Higher Degree and Specialization in Painting and was initially intrigued by painting with matter, in particular the work of Antoni Tàpies and graduated with experimental work (painting treatment, addition of non-art materials, the choice of unusual carriers). A number of years and may more exhibitions later, Gert exchanged painting for assemblies, installations and found objects. Should Gert have continued painting, he would be the trompe l’oeil - painter of his own ideas. Must one proclaim an interesting object to still life to make then a painterly and pictorial translation of it? Not necessarily: one can focus on the objects themselves and see what is achieved by choosing them, isolating them and combining them, if only minimally. It takes guts and quite some courage but Gert has an excellent technical mastery in order not to do the first and play it safe. Is this anti-art? A denial of the values of pictorial art? On the contrary, it’s precisely because of painting Gert could make this artistic statement. It is appropriate to quote Kurt Schwitters: “Every artist should have the freedom to make painting with nothing but blotters, stated that he is at all able to make a painting.” It is true that a lot of his work have pictorial qualities, but there is more to it. His work is packed with - say - waste as raw material that is strongly poetic, sometimes surreal and humorous or socially critical. This can only be the result of an extraordinary imagination, “The capacity to create a different nature from the material that itself has provided.” as Emmanuel Kant describes it, or one can say the capacity to transform (in contemporary jargon). Let me conclude with a paraphrase of a statement by Jospeh Albers: (“If you have seen that each color changes by a changing environment, you will probably realize that you have l earned something about life as well as the color”). “If you have seen how you can transform scrapped and discarded material, you have learned something about life as well as about art.”

Marc Vonck, Principle of the Academy

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Gert Scheerlinck: The disguise of objects

Today it is difficult to establish classifications in relation to the way in which we name objects; it requires that we reconsider the words we choose to designate things. Behind these inquiries lies the need to think about art between their deaths and resurrections. Having to define an experience also means seeing the difficulty in its execution. In the Surrealist Manifesto the image was identified from the short circuit of elements that constructed it. André Breton felt that in these circumstances there could be no premeditation, we should let nature take its course. In one of the poems of Count Lautréamont, I saw the embodiment of this thought: “beautiful as the chance meeting on a dissecting table of a sewing machine and an umbrella.” The readymades of Duchamp did not respond to a visual delight, nor were they intended for the market. As their name implies, they were artifacts already made, representing equivalents for the outcome of industrially produced oil paints, canvas and wood. Duchamp's painting was merely a chemical fact, but the structure detected in the image corresponded with the successive associations made by those who conceived it. The French artist claimed that this transaction might have been the genesis of his first readymade. Perhaps this was the antecedent of the Duchamp assertion that art is a game played by men of different eras. Concepts such as assembly and installation emerge in the 60s of the past century. The origin of the latter can be dated back to the Realist Manifesto of the 20s when Naum Gabo and Antoine Pevner think about that fourth dimension of art that could be what Bill Viola many years later called temporariness. In a similar way, the Russian Constructivists thought about how mass could transform space. This research is continued later by Donald Judd in a key text entitled Specific Objects. This term announced the installation-language from that new three-dimensionality of the artwork and its focus and apprehension within a space and real time; a thesis shared again by Robert Morris in what he called New Sculpture.

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Despite the development in conceptual art and minimalism in the United States at that time, Europe is again the setting where confrontation of political ideas and ways of thinking about the object resides within the art scene, something that undoubtedly legitimized Arte Povera. Hence, these artists consider the creation and subsequent evolution as a boundary. The material is not seen as a resource in itself and for itself, the artist stands in his own individuality, starting out as a nomad who turns into a guerrilla seeking out all possible destinations. The object doesn’t assume a representation because it is a living thing participating in the drama of human existence. A creator as Gert Scheerlinck doesn't escape to a story like this, though its main tenets are reversible. His gaze is not built in a binary polarization or boundaries between sculpture and installation, or the prosaic and the poetic. No doubt there are keys and internal resonances that only belong to the artist. Gert's interests are not manifest in his speeches nor do they leave evidence. There is something that is hidden and that navigates in the subterfuge of a script that we cannot decipher. It is not about juxtaposing different universal codes or creating a script from the material either, nor about tracing the influence of the previous origin of the object which we identified. Gert Scheerlinck is questioning the meaning of sculpture from the legitimacy that produces its placement in the public sphere or the art institution. His pieces of art come in a particular context that dematerializes because they create for themselves their own context. These objects, although showing their structure, are reconstructed from the fragment; the display is not essential because the important thing is not building the fetish sign but finding a possible narrative of what we see. It is for this reason that the approach to the work cannot be understood from what may have been contributed to it by a psychological school like Gestalt. Here it’s the detail that discreetly hints at the complexities of syntax. We are before an artist who not only moves values that reach a symbolic dimension. His works challenge us at different angles to start from very special values of possible transfers.

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The return to the industrial design, communication and awareness of ecological disasters on the planet, reveals itself as micro dissections. The every day world presents itself as a eulogy residing between the natural and the artificial, a confrontation biased by prosthetics that make us dependent. Scheerlinck creates this other place, that is neither commemorative nor apocalyptic, it is the small circle of common things. The work of Gert Scheerlinck has points in common with Latin American artists who have incorporated this type of practice: we refer to Cildo Meireles and Gabriel Orozco. His proposals enter that hybrid zone of the global and the local, opening a conversation between the territorial and the universal. Penetrating geopolitical plots is not the same as creating a dependency on its references. What can be the position of a work according to the place of production? These are the questions at hand. Today, hegemonic control methods in the legitimation of a work are not cartographic, with exceptions such as in Africa where artists of wide international acclaim are still part of the diaspora. If we study the pieces of Gert Scheerlinck between 2011 and 2016 it is interesting to see this fragile crossover between sculpture and installation in different works, in a language where the object is a performer who improvises his place in the scene. The Apple and The Sock (2015), like most of Gert's works, is very simple in concept. The figure is modeled with total fluency in the interaction between two artifacts that articulate interchanging meanings. The Apple and The Sock reaches that climax that I saw in the CÊzanne fruit. The post-impressionist artist disdained the mimetic color to give meaning to the harmonious picture. However, Gert introduces a way of thinking about art which, although quite precarious, knows how to take into account the power of the imaginary that exceeds its primary character to express in symbols the power of economy and trade. Murisales Nigrum †(2015) is one of those pieces where the poetic intention is more obvious, because of a great economy of resources. The pain at the death of an animal species that may disappear is the motivation for structuring a story with a powerful visual force. Each element the visualization consists of, reinforces the certainty of the tragedy. It is a performative sculpture, the event urges us to participate in what is happening. Is it a simple news item or are we being questioned in connection with this assassination? 9


The bird's feathers are the index of what happened in the past and at the same time adopt a present situation. The static display is just a deception; caught in it is a film that runs in real time and reminds of The Living Theatre of Judith Malina and Julian Beck; a group of artists who thought of life as work and who, from this dialogue with the outside world, created their project. Another piece we can connect with this type of research is without a doubt The Nest (2013) and the dystopian energy that is transmitted between the organic and the inorganic: the egg is the beginning, initiatory hovering in a mute world it doesn't belong in. Something must happen but we do not know what. The action is presented as a choreography resembling a swarm, in a plot that hides its possible outcome. The piece has the mystery of the early works of German artist Hans Haake. Since the composition announces a destabilization of biological systems, they are the genesis of chaos that occurs in social systems. The Nest accepts the paradoxes of mysticism, its conception becomes the fundamental leitmotiv of a reception that is totally secular. A part of the creation process of Gert Scheerlinck has something to do with direct interventions on the objects. Fail (2016), a piece that owes much to Alberto Burri and Yves Klein, may be a good example of what we are discussing. When Richard Wollheim contemplated minimalism he said that this artistic movement avoids a relationship with the work, with the demonstration of the craft of the artist. We remember Dan Flavin revealing, with absolute impunity, the role engineers and electricians had played throughout almost the complete realization of his work. Fail by Gert goes beyond the horror of a Flaubert who, facing that white page, sets fire to the fabric and its frame. This act brings the industrial or artisanal production back to its most pristine state, which is a constant feature in Scheerlinck's work, to that phenomenological point where he presents a problem to reach to future conflicts. The Border, perhaps is one of the most enigmatic works of Gert Scheerlinck. The Polyether mattress block has a small detachment of the material in one end. The ambiguity that the piece conveys makes us puzzled about the personal action of the artist. It is as if it is telling us that an object is like language, right in front of us, showing its skin. The rectangularity of the piece is impossible to sustain because one of its boundaries is destroyed. 10


Tracing the outline of The border is called to a halt, teaching us the aberration of an accident. Maybe this work carries a genealogy of representations. Our limits are diffuse, our ethical and vital tensions collide with borders. It is not necessary to draw a map, there is a risk involved when you travel along the edges because the foundations that support us are crumbling. Like an island of material from a picture of an early Antoni Tà pies, a work of the standard of Untitled (Oil Barrel) (2016) is presented to us, along with a naturalistic and suggestive atmosphere at the same time. Its disposition may be an abstract painting that can only construct the patina of time and all the external agents that are responsible for visualizing what in fact turns out to be intangible for us. This work cannot free itself of its original value, it is a dreamlike image that - as seen in previous works - suggests it is politically loaded in the magic of visual powers. Gert has the gift of emptying the object of its previous life and its own history. We know what oil means in the balance of powers that move today on a global level. The object is being rebuilt by Gert Scheerlinck in one of his assemblies entitled Breathe (2013) where, after it has been neglected over the years in the field of art history, he prioritizes the iconographic. Nevertheless, the most important thing is not the way it is presented, but it is the reinvention of the use of a few apparently rescued filters, filters that belong to the most puerile of every day life, that turns it into a piece worthy of a museum. The shades of grey ranging from those that have accumulated the dust to those who are intact. This is a piece that brings us to the dust-breeding by Duchamp where dust accumulated in the glazing of The Large Glass and that immortalized the photographic eye of Man Ray. For Duchamp this piece was the demystification of the sculpture and its monumentality, an evocation of the gray matter of the human brain and one of the most breath taking colossal works that was The Large Glass. In my opinion, Breathe by Scheerlinck has more of a twist, approaching symbolism and this estrangement between the invention and what is projected as reality. His speculation is not a part of the location of a sculpture in a specific facility nor it’s an addition to architectural design. The piece has its own autonomy which is summarized in certain cultural and spiritual concerns, philosophical and anthropological.

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Elliot was saying that the artist had to separate the mind that suffers from the one that it creates. I do not believe that Gert could establish this type of dichotomies. The work transcends the hedonistic thought-provoking of the visual enchantment in order to enter within a phenomena peculiar to the present time. For Gert there is a difference in the way to take those elements of industrial waste: the dust from the filter is not the desired content of waste and consumption in this era of post-capitalism. It is the beautification of destruction and a small collage-attempt of a possible survival. In the same line as 'Breathe' we greatly appreciate another tangible piece called ‘Untitled' (2016), an installation composed with filters accompanied by a hermetically sealed door. Here it’s no longer possible to breathe. It is a metaphysical aseptic environment with a certain character. We do not really know what is happening and who inhabits the place. We cannot escape the mysticism of a piece that is entering the hesitant barriers that may exist between public and private. Nor is it known fictional or documentary. However, one feels that the artist cares little, at least at the time, about the intricacies of language. All our possible forms to oxygenate have been replaced by the object. Perhaps as Velazquez's Las Meninas we have to content with suggestion, because we need to think outside the box. There are many ways to unravel Gert. His work across a variety of mediums in a world that questions objects, entering and leaving in the obsession to preserve their autonomy which in turn, and at the same time, depends on the necessity of the postautonomy that belongs to contemporary art.

Jorge Antonio Fernandez Torres Art critic, curator and director of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de Cuba

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Collar, 2016 70 x 10 x 50 cm sculpture / textile, label, branch 13


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The Balloon, 2016 variable dimensions sculpture / water balloon, shelf, fishing line 15


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The Road (to somewhere), 2016 25 x 6 x 3,5 cm sculpture / toy car, marble stone 17


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Green Tiles, 2016 2 x 50 x 60 cm painting / cd cases, paint, plastic foil 19


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Untitled (filters), 2015 210 x 80 cm installation / industrial filters, wood, dust 21


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“ Fail, a piece that owes much to Alberto Burri and Yves Klein goes beyond the horror of a Flaubert who, facing that white page, sets fire to the fabric and its frame. This act brings the industrial or artisanal production back to its most pristine state, which is a constant feature in Scheerlinck's work, to that phenomenological point where he presents a problem to reach to future conflicts.“ Jorge Antonio Fernandez Torres

FAIL, 2016 60 x 80 cm painting / canvas 23


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I-composition, 2006 25 x 30 cm painting / tape, paper, paint 25


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In Transit, 2015 60 x 100 cm sculpture / chain, tire 27


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(Dreaming of) Bounty Beach, 2016 60 x 90 cm (variable dimensions) installation / piggybank, poster 29


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PAR, 2016 variable dimensions installation / scouring pads, textile, branch 31


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The Border, 2015 95 x 35 x 25 cm sculpture / polyether mattress 33


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Slippers on Canvas, 2015 100 x 50 x 25 cm sculpture / canvas, slippers, tape, metal 35


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“ Murisales Nigrum † is a performative sculpture, the event urges us to participate in what is happening. Each element the visualization consists of, reinforces the certainty of the tragedy. Is it a simple news item or are we being questioned in connection with this assassination? “ Jorge Antonio Fernandez Torres

Murisales Nigrum †, 2015 30 x 15 x 25 cm sculpture / balloon, feather, all-fix glue 37


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Into The Void, 2015 70 x 90 cm Sculpture / tube, pitchfork 39


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The Gun, 2015 100 x 50 x 20 cm installation / wood, cord 41


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The Net, 2015 45 x 25 x 15 cm readymade / plastic 43


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“ The accumulation of used filters in different shades of gray and with different textures send my thoughts in all directions. It reminds me of color ranges, to sample sheets. The display of this unwanted substance also talks about our need for a clean, perhaps sterile environment. You can think about this work as political as you want or as poetic as dramatic clouds that cause the wind. “

Claudine Hellweg director Kunst in Huis

Breathe, 2013 45 x 110 x 5 cm assemblage / filters 45


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The Grid, 2015 30 x 40 x 6 cm sculpture / wood 47


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The Shelf, 2016 60 x 60 cm sculpture / zinc, textile 49


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“ The Apple and The Sock, like most of Gert's works, is very simple in concept. The figure is modeled with total fluency in the interaction between two artifacts that articulate interchanging meanings. It is interesting to see this fragile crossover between sculpture and installation in different works, in a language where the object is a performer who improvises his place in the scene. “ Jorge Antonio Fernandez Torres

The Apple & The Sock, 2015 20 x 7 x 5 cm sculpture / sock, glue, styrofoam apple 51


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Rubber Confetti, 2015 15 x 15 x 5 cm sculpture / plastic bag, rubber confetti, paper 53


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Unravaled, 2013 variable dimensions sculpture, / textile, audio cord, clothespin 55


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“ The very last image from the exhibition is called ‘Hang Wire’ and touches me enormously, partly due the dialogue between object and multiple shadows. Grasp is here an extremely wavering concept. Gert Scheerlinck, of course, is not the first nor the last one that works with poor materials, but he does show essential realizations. ”

Gustaaf Van der Biest, art editor Waterschoenen ©

Hang Wire, 2014 variable dimensions sculpture / branch, security ribbon 57


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Groundpiece, 2014 115 x 60 x 5 cm sculpture / bitumen, oil, chalck, cardboard 59


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Sandpaper, 2015 10 x 15 x 2 cm sculpture / sandpaper, wood 61


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“ The piece has the mystery of the early works of German artist Hans Haake. Since the composition announces a destabilization of biological systems, they are the genesis of chaos that occurs in social systems. “ Jorge Antonio Fernandez Torres

The Nest, 2013 30 x 55 x 15 cm assemblage / cardboard, rope, egg 63


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The Duck, 2014 30 x 20 x 6 cm assemblage / plastic bag, wood, tape, paint 65


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Blown Out, 2013 60 x 55 x 1,5 cm assemblage / cd cases, matches, backing paper, dirt 67


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installation view, Slippers On Canvas exhibition: ‘More Canvas Please’ at Sofie van de Velde Gallery 2016 69


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installation view, Sandpaper exhibition: ‘More Canvas Please’ at Sofie van de Velde Gallery 2016 71


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installation view The Curtain & Oil Canal, 2015 exhibition: ‘Rust Bellt’ at WATT , 2016 73


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installation view, The Flag & Untitled (oil world) exhibition: ‘Rust Belt’ at WATT 2016 75


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installation view, I-composition and untitled (green tiles) exhibition: ‘Stationstraat’ for Valerie Traan Gallery 2016 77


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installation view, PAR exhibition: ‘Stationstraat’ for Valerie Traan Gallery 2016 79


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installation view, For Those … exhibition: ‘Stationstraat’ for Valerie Traan Gallery 2016 81


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installation view, Turn Your Back installation at Sint-Amandus church, Moortsele 2016 83


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UPCOMING 08/2017 (re)PUBLIEK - art route Kunst & Zwalm 09/2017 WE OTHERS - Biannale Non-Objective Art, France 10/2017!THE DISGUISE (solo) - Twelve Twelve Gallery, Den Haag (NL) 10/2017 UNTITLED (yet) (duo) - Site25, Ruiselede

PAST EXHIBITIONS (selection) 2016 TELL ME, WHAT DO YOU THINK? - Twelve Twelve Gallery, Den Haag (NL) STATIONSSTRAAT - Valerie Traan Gallery, Antwerpen ART AT HOME - Roomin' Art Festival, Gent ARTIST TALK - Pedrami Gallery, Antwerpen REMINISZENZ (duo) - Galerie Martin Van Blerk, Antwerpen MORE CANVAS PLEASE - Sofie Van de Velde Gallery, Antwerpen SALON DU PRINTEMPS - ZERP Gallery, Rotterdam (NL) RUST BELT - WATT, Gent 2015 KUNSTLICHT - Hofke Van Chantraine, Oud-Turnhout BOZAR DE L'ABATTOIR - Michiels Foundation, Sambreville WAGENSCHOT - Francis Maere Gallery, Gent FIRST - Bowling Fine Arts, Brussel (curator: Sven Vanderstichelen) MONSTERS - Oude Beurs, Antwerpen BOZAR DE L'ABATTOIR - Amara, Bergen (NL) BAZAAR - Loods12, Wetteren KUNST VOOR NEPAL - Vooruit, Gent CURIO.SEA.TY - Patrick Studios, Leeds (UK) TUMULT - Campo Victoria, Gent 2014 FROM SEA TO YOU - Poca Gallery, Bizkaia (ES) KARFOUR - Jan Colle Galerie, Gent THESE THINGS (solo) - De Gaanderij, Aalst UTOPIA - Flux Factory, Long Island City, NY (USA) SKETCH-UP - Closed Art Gallery, Antwerpen ATELIER C - Museum M, Leuven OFF THE WALL - Terrace Gallery, Londen (UK) INTRODUCING - Closed Art Gallery, Antwerpen MAIL ART - Hang'Art Gallery, Grenoble (FR) 2013 IN STORE - Galerie Judy Straten, Horst (NL) NOW YOU SEE IT, NOW YOU DON’T - Terrace Gallery, Londen (UK) ICONEN & IDOLEN - De Gaanderij, Aalst CHEAP CHI POTATL - Bleek kunstencentrum, Sint-Niklaas

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GERT SCHEERLINCK

STUDIO Poststraat 5b 9860 Balegem Belgium

PHONE +32 (0)488 570 999

MAIL

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The disguise of Objects by Gert Scheerlinck  

Introducing the work of Belgian conceptual artist Gert Scheerlinck.

The disguise of Objects by Gert Scheerlinck  

Introducing the work of Belgian conceptual artist Gert Scheerlinck.

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