Page 1



HILARIUS HOFSTEDE PALEO PSYCHO POP Rhizomatics=Popanalysis, Mythology, Surrealism and Taxonomy in the work of Hilarius Hofstede

The Politics of the Family, board, wax, book, CD-cover The State of Denmark Street, London 2000




Watch TV (Shaman), 1994



Preface Patrick Healy


01 Introduction


02 Mythology and The ‘Markies van Water’


03 Surrealism, Dada and Beuys


04 Ethnology and Taxonomy


05 Rhizomes of Paleo Psycho Pop

146-151 152-153 154-155 156-159 160-161 162-167 190 191

Bibliography Biography Exhibitions Bison Caravan Rhizomatic Structure PPP Interview with Hilarius Hofstede Colophon Acknowledgements


“FUNK” ... the essence, can not be analyzed or learned in the constraints of academic environment. Funk is an organic, cultural essence passed down through the ages from Funk Enlightened Sages to those who are genetically pre-disposed to understand, practice and FEEL. The work of Hilarius Hofstede embodies the essence of “FUNK” since time without beginning... consciously awakened over 25 years ago when 1st exposed to our music of DEFUNKT at the North Sea Jazz Festival in The Hague, 1982. Joseph Bowie New York September 2011




Patrick Healy,

The Modern and the Wake (Dublin: Lilliput Press, 1992), pp. 95-110. This included five printed pages of De Markies van Water, the full text of which was published six years later in Dublin by Pallas Press, November 1998. 2



The Sunday Business Post, Dublin, September 1996. 4

Hilarius Hofstede, Paleo Psycho Pop:

Writings 1995-2008 (Dublin: Trashface, 2009).

It is almost twenty years since I wrote and published a critical piece on the then 25-year old Dutch artist Hilarius Hofstede, whose work I had come to know after our first meeting in Paris in March 1988. His early short films, and what seemed like astonishing experimental prose writing, were the source of my initial fascination. In the subsequent three years, I came to know the composition and progress of De Markies van Water, which he was hewing out line by line, and one could even say word by word. 1 The complete and established text of this book was published in November 1998, and it is now also available online.2 Throughout the 1990s, Hofstede devoted his energy and attention increasingly in the area of the visual arts, with exhibitions, performances and installations. His first solo show took place at the Van Reekum Museum in Apeldoorn, and was entitled Paleo Psycho Pop (1995). The 90s was also the decade in which he created and consistently contributed to the publication of the magazine Paleo Psycho Pop, the initial number of which marked the conclusion of his M.A.D. tour (Moscow, Amsterdam, Dublin), comprising a series of shows and an epic journey from Russia to the Western Isle, in 1996. The final manifestation for the M.A.D. tour in Dublin was chaotic and thronged, and would be reviewed in remarkable and prescient terms by art critic Basil Miller: ‘I had a sense of encountering an original spirit, or being in a moment of art that could be a new beginning (...) there was no doubt of the aggressive energy in Hofstede’s work (...) its very proliferations betokened a restlessness, a ruthlessness even, a sort of savagery which I have not encountered for a long time. This was far from the contrived, commercial shock value of a Damien Hirst (...) The surface roughness of the work almost conceals richness which is akin to that of tapestry; the aggression is counterpoised by a riotous playfulness. Stop a while and you are in the territory of the dream.’ 3 Paleo Psycho Pop was to be the moniker under which Hofstede communicated his concerns to the wider community; and from its inception it has acted as a laboratory for his experiments, interests and achievements, in other words as a diary of his development. These concerns were vital and immediate, and he was taking on as much as commenting on the world of art, of politics, of culture in general, being equally capable of saeva indignatio as of the most tender evocation in the process. PPP is presently at number 30, and a collection of the crucial, often manifesto-like texts first appearing the magazine is now also available in book form.4 9

Hofstede’s blossoming as a public artist was surely seen in his collaboration with Berend Hoekstra on the show Polynesian Instant Geography (P.I.G), at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam in 1999, which brought together two powerful independent artists working in harness, and producing an exhibition of bewildering, even surreal imagination and beauty. This would lead again to their further inspiring collaboration in Brussels in 2003, and they are currently set for a show together in Paris next year. His generosity as an artist has always allowed Hofstede to contribute freely with individuals and groups. In 1999, he curated a show with Leon Riekwell, The Light Factory: A Journey into Paleo Psycho Pop, which took place in Vlissingen. The choice of the location was inspired by the theme of De Markies van Water, as one of the most terrible floods of recent Dutch history had taken place there in 1953. At the beginning of the new century there was his work on The State of Denmark Street, held in London, and the formulation of the Bison Caravan, which would eventually set out on 3 May 2003 from Denmark, and included the collaboration of a listed 110 artists. After Denmark, it went to Marseille, where the show was curated by Alfons Alt and featured 200 artists, and in the following year (2004) to the Watertoren in Vlissingen. In 2005, the Bison Caravan went to Bamako, Mali with curator Hama Goro, and Hofstede continues to work on the project with Dick van Arkel and Valentijn van der Heide; in this sense it is an ongoing work. Hofstede’s other extraordinary collaboration is with Joseph Bowie, the ‘funk-shaman’, with whom he is working on a major event for Paris in 2013, in which he responds to his deep love of music, George Clinton, ‘creative sweat’ and Parliament Funkadelic.


In the last decade, Hofstede has continued his intense production, writing and making exhibitions, whilst living for the most part in Denmark with his wife, Iben Mosbaek Hofstede. There is a Wikipedia entry with details in Danish of these years. Two shows in particular are of great interest: Natural Born History, and PopGun. The recently-deceased Jan Hein Sassen, who had followed his career from early on, and was an enthusiastic admirer of the work of Hoekstra and Hofstede in P.I.G., wrote with great appreciation of Natural Born History, which confirmed for him the depth and strength of this artist working alone. Sassen was enormously pleased to receive a copy of the thesis work for the Masters Degree in Contemporary Art at the Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London completed by the Dutch art historian and writer Chantal Maljers van Erven Dorens. How to make sense of all of this, to catch a fulgurant creative life ‘on the wing’ as it were and communicate this to a wider public? That has been the task which van Erven Dorens has set herself. In collaboration with de Hond publishers she has contributed a considered and remarkable overview of Hofstede’s work, and this is really the first time that any such independent single overview has been attempted. With methodical and clear writing, van Erven Dorens succeeds in offering a very comprehensive picture of an artist who, now in his mid-40s, remains for me at least, as puzzling and fascinating, as gifted and enigmatic, as when I first met him in a bookshop in Paris working on a script for the Nabokov novel Laughter in the Dark. I salute the author of this fascinating study, the publishers for their imaginative engagement with this finely-designed book, and the artist, to whom I would like to say chapeau! Patrick Healy Amsterdam, August 29th 2011. Patrick Healy works as senior lecturer and researcher at the Faculty of Architecture, Technical University Delft. For details of his recent work see:


First Bison ‘The Floodbooks Arnoah66’, collage, mud from the Arno river, Florence 1996



Haute Couture, Haute Nature, 2011



Space Bison, collage, graphite, stamp, lettering and pensil, 2010, Amsterdam (Collection J. & V. Maljers)




Twin Bisons, print and collage, 2008



Buffolo Bass, 1996, Galerie Onrust, Amsterdam


War, The FloodbooksARNOAH66, collage, mud of the Arno river, 1996, Florence


Untitled, The FloodbooksARNOAH66, collage and mud from the Arno River, 49 x 35, Florence 1996


Untitled, The FloodbooksARNOAH66, collage and mud from the Arno River, 49 x 35, Florence 1996




Dolphin Tail Bassline, pencil on paper, 2004 (Collectie Teunen Konzepte DE)



Sergeantism, pencil on paper, 2004


Where The Grey Antlers Dream, pencil on paper, 2004

Paleo Abby Road, pencil on paper, 2004



DO IT YOURSELF/Jeder Mensch ist Ein K端nstler, record-cover, cd-cover, roses, The State of Denmark Street, London 2000 (Collection Van Maaren, Hilversum NL)

De Macht van de Fodou Winti, collage, 2011


Voodoo Chick, collage, ink on paper, Amsterdam 2004


Hideous Mutant Freaks, collage, ink on paper, Amsterdam 2004





Bass warrior, TILT, collage, ink on paper, (123 x 94 cm), 1997 (Collection De Bruin, Wassenaar NL)


Bass warrior, WARS, collage, ink on paper, (123 x 94 cm), 1997 (Collection De Bruin Wassenaar NL)


Bass warrior, AURAL GORILLA, collage, (123 x 94 cm), 123 x 94, 1997 (Collection De Bruin Wassenaar NL)


Bass warrior, THE PARKERILLA, collage, (123 x 94 cm), 1997 (Collection De Bruin Wassenaar NL)



Sun Moon Arse (Eclipse), installation, truck-tyres, scaffolding, hay-stacks, texts, record, objects, Museum De Beyerd, Breda 1998


01 INTRODUCTION Mythology, Surrealism and Taxonomy: How can the art of Hilarius Hofstede be analyzed and contextualized according to these notions?


This research is meant to open up the highly complex avant-garde work of the Dutch artist Hilarius Hofstede (b. 1965). The director of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam recognized the importance of his work in 1999 and since then there have been many public exhibitions yet few publications. It has become clear that Hofstede’s work is touching upon notions that are an interesting addition to what has been focused on by his contemporaries. The ideas introduced by Hofstede of Paleo Psycho Pop should be recognized within the ethnographically orientated realm of avantgarde artists that are concerned with cross-cultural and cross-temporal notions inclined by globalization and capitalism. Hofstede’s vision is profound and engaged with original ideas regarding the most influential moments in artistic practice and the reciprocal interpretation of that on contemporary perception, such as the revival of the significance of early 20th century avant-garde, the ever-continuing influence of Joseph Beuys and the impact of pop art and its concepts on the artistic development and significance of art now. The diversity of inspiration and production and the explosive multiconnective way of communicating ideas and expression in this work, provoke an affiliation with the rhizomatic structure as formulated by Deleuze and Guattari.1 In that line of thinking the themes of mythology, surrealism and taxonomy are proposed as the main contextual notions, as ‘plateaus’ in the analysis of this artist. Hence, the book will be divided into three parts in which a selection of works will be considered principally according to these themes among other ‘rhizomes’. The individual significance and the theoretical and artistic context behind Hofstede’s work will be approached within this structure.


‘Rhizome’ in: Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus. (Paris, 1980/Minnesota, 1987) pp 3-28. 2

See also appendix I:

There have been 38 public exhibitions of which some important ones are: 1995 PALEO PSYCHO POP, Van Reekum Museum Apeldoorn (NL); 1996 ARNOAH, Biblioteca Nazionale, Firenze (I); 1998 TIKI, Joanna Booth, London (UK); 1999 PIG, with Berend Hoekstra, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (NL); 2001 THE STATE OF DANEMARK STREET, FA1, London, (UK); 2003 BISON CARAVAN, Friche de la Belle de Mai, Marseille (F); 2003 PIG, with Hoekstra, Hallenpoort, Bruxelles (B); 2005 NATURAL BORN HISTORY, Arhus Naturhistorisk Museum (DK); 2006 BISON CARAVAN, Bamako, (Mali); 2007 POP GUN, Tojhusmuseet Kopenhagen (DK); 2008 The Album Cover, Holstebro Museum, (DK) see complete list of exhibitions in appendix I. 3

Hofstede in:

‘The Sergeant Dreaming’ Hilarius Hofstede, Paleo Psycho Pop, Writings 1995- 2008, (Dublin:Trashface Books, 2009), p.129.

About the artist: Hilarius Hofstede (born in Hilversum, the Netherlands 1965) started his career in Paris at the Ecole Superieure de Cineastes in 1984. His book, the Markies van Water (1985-1996), a story written in a self-created language, was the first most complete expression of Paleo Psycho Pop, a style in art that was invented by the artist and which has been explored in his artistic creations ever since. His work can be characterized by the provocation in tension between nature & artifice, creation & destruction, rationality & superstition, reason & insanity, animal & human, history & modernity and the reciprocal action between those that occur in various dimensions and add an explosive character to his work. From the mid 80’s onwards Hofstede has created a body of work exploring multiple artistic disciplines varying from writing, drawing, sculpture, film, performance, to large-scale artistic projects. Although the diversity of his work is difficult to describe, this makes it even more intriguing to study in depth. It will become clear that Hofstede’s work has a holistic quality of which the artist himself is at the centre and that an important aspect of his personality is related to his mental state that varies over time. Psychological restraint caused by depression has been of great influence in the life of Hofstede and this is reflected in the complexity and the rhizomatic structure of his work.

From 1996 onwards Hofstede found international recognition and his art has been publicly exhibited many times.2 As a multimedia artist, he combines societal critique with historical conscience and is concerned with the juxtaposing of pop culture and nature in an explosive way. Shamanism and language are important tools in his multilayered combinations of image, objects and text. So what is Paleo Psycho Pop? Hofstede visually expresses himself in a contemporary form of culturally refined ‘savage’ art for which the artist finds inspiration in the earliest forms of imagery. Hence the name Paleo: reaching back to Paleolithic times, that of the very first human image making inspired by the Cave paintings of Lascaux, through the several stages of mind of the artist, Psycho, to a new form of popular art, Pop. “so what is paleo psycho pop then, sergeant?” “ppp is the terrible moment where (when) pop split(s) loose from its sexual partner money and is married back into the paleolithic imagination in a moment of ejaculatory fission. pop is star-spangled hellfire in the abattoir of the self, an astral projection of fear into the kaleidoscopic deep throat of a warholed madonna. sergeant serpent and babe rainbow greet britpop breakdown!” Hilarius Hofstede (1999)3


Bison Wallpaper for Carparks (example), print, 2009



The first issue was published at the conclusion of the MoscowAmsterdam-Dublin tour,

a series of exhibitions, actions and performances in which Paleo Psycho Pop was publically presented, known as the MAD tour (March - Dec 1996). An archive of the magazine is kept by Patrick Healy in Amsterdam. See also: Patrick Healy in note 1. Exh. Cat., Hoekstra/ Hofstede P.I.G., Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art, (Amsterdam 1999) n.p. ;

The search for the meaning of contemporary art practice and the start of a dialectic quest between culture and nature inspired Hofstede to develop Paleo Psycho Pop and to make an attempt to reunite universal mythology with his own ideas. Paleo Psycho Pop was launched as a magazine and movement in the beginning of 1996. There have been 21 issues of the magazine so far and it still continues to be published.4 Accordingto Hofstede’s Paleo Psycho Pop, popular culture should be ‘destroyed’ to open a new dimension in art following a process of assimilation, destruction and reanimation. In reaction to the by Theodore Adorno profoundly analyzed ‘soulless’ consumer society related art of the ‘80/‘90’s instigated by artists like Warhol and continued by Hirst, Hofstede strives to knock ‘pop’ from its throne, in search for the ‘aura’ in art through the power of the elemental, the ancient, and that of nature: ‘Paleo Psycho Pop is where the dead join the living, the animal kingdom joins the human world, to fight death, to fight money, to induce the end of pop’.5

And: H. Hofstede in interview with author (appendix IV) where he comments that there will be 30 issues in total. 5

Ibid, p.10.

In Hofstede’s work, the buffalo is iconic, not only as the strongest and oldest survivor of prehistory and early human image making, but also as the personification of a powerful leader and voyager. The bison reappears in many stages and most prominent in the project Bison Caravan. (See appendix II).

In works like ‘Trick on the Moon’ time and space are unified, the original inhabitants of the American plains stampede on the infinite circle of a record, sign of our times. With a Derrida-like interest of identification and unification of human and animalistic forces, the artist seeks this power also in other primordial animals like the whale: ‘, the turtle, and the eagle among that of semimythological creatures that may or may not have been in existence, but certainly have the appeal of timeless animalistic force. There often is a confrontation with suggestions or physical signs from modernity either ‘collaged’, ‘pastiched’, ‘bricolaged’ or integrated in some other way into the work. Following a path of psychological, cultural and societal engagement of absorption (the book De Markies van Water), abjection (the exhibition Polynesian Instant Geography) and protest (the exhibition Natural Born History), interposed with a profound interest in music, Hofstede seeks the ‘marriage between culture and nature’. This path: the initial exploration of these ideas (De Markies van Water) that develop into a visual language (Polynesian Instant Geography) and the matured implementation and interpretation of Paleo Psycho Pop (Natural Born History & Pop Gun), forms the core line in this research.



Hofstede, Hilarius. De Markies van Water. Pallas Press (Dublin, 1998). 1998 7

Deleuze, Gilles and Félix Guattari.

The first chapter will consider the understanding of the content of Hofstede’s art and the meaning of Paleo Psycho Pop. This principle perspective will propose the notion of Mythology in relation to Hofstede’s work. The mythical, and the close relation between image and word, are a consistent feature. The key text for the understanding of Hofstede’s art and Paleo Psycho Pop is ‘De Markies van Water’.6 In ‘De Markies van Water’ was published, a myth about water where the mystical, symbolical and ritual significations of water are explored, written in a newly created language of which form and content are reflected in many of Hofstede’s later works. It implies an analysis of myth and mythology, created in this written work as a referential literal code that is being translated into a visual code, referring to itself but also to a greater cultural historical cultural context. The discourse will be illustrated through the understanding of the text in the context of Roland Barthes’ ‘Mythologies’ and that of another important early work of the artist, River (’95).

A Thousand Plateaus, Capitalism and Schizofrenia. Tranlated by Brian Massumi. Continuum (Paris, 1980; Minnesota, 1987), pp. 20-21: ‘Let us summarize the principal characteristics of a rhizome: unlike trees or their roots, the rhizome connects any point to any point, and its traits are not necessarily linked to traits of the same nature; it brings into play very different regimes of signs and even nonsign states. The rhizome is reducible neither to the One nor to the multiple. It has neither beginning nor end, but always a middle (milieu) from which it grows and which it overspills. p. 22: We are writing this book as a rhizome. It is composed of plateaus We used words that in turn function for us as plateaus. Rhizomatics= schizoanalysis=stratoanalysis =pragmatics =microolitics p. 25: A rhizome has no beginning or end’


The second chapter is concerned with the investigation of why Hofstede is practising his work within the realm of Paleo Psycho Pop and what could be the roots of inspiration. This part is dedicated to aspects and correlations with Dada, Surrealism and the influence of Joseph Beuys in Hofstede’s art and how he implements those ideas in a contemporary manner. One of these aspects is about the exploration of the mental perimeters of reason and fantasy in terms of psychoanalysis. Hofstede is fascinated by the mental state of schizophrenia, a key interest of the Surrealists. In the study of the possibilities of the human mind, Hofstede also explores shamanism and makes it an essential part in his creations. Like Joseph Beuys, the contact with the animal world becomes a tool in societal and cultural critique, as well as being used as a vehicle for a deeper understanding of the essence of nature.

The third chapter is dedicated to how Hofstede implements his ideas into greater cultural projects exemplified by several exhibitions. It reveals the evolution of ideas in the individual character of the exhibitions, moving from a Surrealistic and Dadaistic influenced ethnographic dominance in the Polynesian Instant Geography exhibtions (Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1999, and the Museum De Hallenpoort, Bruxelles, 2001), towards an emphasis on Taxonomy and Natural History in the later ones, where Hofstede shows an interest in intervening with the systematization and categorization of existing static collections. It is interesting to see how Hofstede consequently works with the notion of organization and disorganization, or even the destruction of art and ideas, and the subsequent rebuilding of them. The tension between popular culture and nature is the crux of Hofstede’s work from the very first moment and comes to a refined and clear climax in the more recent exhibitions Natural Born History (Museum for Natural History in Aarhus, 2005) and PopGun (National Museum of Millitary History, Aarhus, 2007). The theoretical and contextual background of this will be analyzed within the perspective of among others Hal Foster’s essay on ‘The artist as ethnographer’. The complex and diverse nature of Hofstede’s work will proof to be reflecting the psychological background of the artist which is projected in his work through a complexity of influences and references to many concepts and notions of modern, post-modern and contemporary art and consequently translated in a new notion called Paleo Psycho Pop. It will be interesting to approach this as a rhizomatic structure of relations between ideas, notions and facts as presented in the psychoanalytical model of A Thousand Plateaus by Deleuze and Guattari (see also appendix III).7



LEFT Poster for the exhibition ‘The Light Factory’ curated by Leon Riekwell, Watertoren Vlissingen 1999

RIGHT Ape of Folly (Orange), Amsterdam 1995 Ape of Reason (Lemon), ‘Fully Booked’ Brussels 1995



02 MYTHOLOGY AND THE ‘MARKIES VAN WATER’ ‘Originally the contextual integration of art in tradition found its expression in cult. We know that the earliest art works originated in the service of a ritual -first the magical, then the religious kind. It is significant that the existence of the work of art with reference to its aura, is never entirely separated from its ritual function. In other words, the unique value of the ‘authentic’ work of art has its basis in ritual, the location of its original use value (...)’8 (Walter Benjamin, 1936). With Paleo Psycho Pop it is the wrecking of the magic in art, life and ideas by the commodity driven society that Hofstede is reacting against, in an implacable but also often comical way. Hofstede: 8

Walter Benjamin (1892-1940)

in: ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Technological Reproduction’ (1936) taken from: Arendt, H. (ed) Walter

“I am saying the world has stopped feeling, that we have become a schizoid planet. (...) In the pop phenomenon, the tribal has been stripped of its ritualistic and murderous magic and this ritualistic murderous magic has been replaced by a commodified machismo. (...)” 9

Benjamin. Illuminations, translated by Harry Zohn, Shocken Books (New York , 1968) p. 217-252. 9

Hofstede, Hilarius, Paleo Psycho

Pop, Writings 1995-2008, Trashface Books, (Dublin, 2009), p. 133. 10

In his search after the unspoiled, the truly authentic, Hofstede

became fascinated by the Polynesian archipelago in Oceania and in particular, by the culture of the Marquesas islands. This highly masculine aggressive culture is synonymous for the unspoiled idyllic beauty of indigenous life and is historically known as Gauguins sanctuary. 11

Exhibition in the Onrust Gallery, ‘Wordwall 3’, Amsterdam 1996.

To expose his critique on the state of contemporary culture, Hofstede introduces a myth that uses the characteristics of multiple exposure of compact commodified signs, invigorated through the identification with the ancient invincible power of nature: Paleo Psycho Pop. The search for the ritual and the magic in art led to a profound interest in Oceanic art and the significance of the indigenous Marquesas culture in the work of Hofstede can be considered as one of the rhizomes that wind through the depths and the length of the development of the oeuvre of this artist.10 Introduced as a protagonist named ‘The Marquis’ in Hofstede’s book ‘De Markies van Water’ (1995, published 1998), the culture of the Marquesas gains an almost hermetic meaning and is quintessential for the understanding of the mythological values in Hofstede’s work. In 1996 Hofstede stated: “Everything I do comes from ‘De Markies van Water’. Image, for me, derives from language.” 11 How this written work of Paleo Psycho Pop can be interpreted on a three-fold level according to Roland Barthes’ theoretical proposal on mythology and how this becomes visualized in Hofstede’s art - in particular in the work ‘River’ (1995) - will become clear after an introduction to the work in the following passages.

Referred to in PPP 2009, p. 6.



‘Stream of Consciousness’

can be characterised by a flow of thoughts and images that do not have to be coherent in time or place and carry the reader through the lifeline of a character incorporating lives and characters from different periods. See also on Joyce ingeneral: Eric Bulson. The Cambridge Introduction to James Joyce. Cambridge University Press (Cambridge & New York, 2006). 13

The “Ur Sonata” was an

experiment of Schwitters’ sound–poetry as practised in a similar way by Dadaist artists as Richard Huelsenbeck (1892-1974) and Hugo Ball (1886-1927) in the early 1920’s. This form of poetry is characterised by the non-lexical form where sounds are created by the collaging of phonemes. Rothenberg, Jerome & Pierre Jones ed. & transl. see: Kurt Schwitters, Poems Performance Pieces Proses Plays Poetics. Temple University Press (Philadelphia 1993 14

Hofstede, Hilarius,

De Markies van Water, (Dublin, 1998/ Amsterdam, 2006) and published on the internet at 15

Recently Patrick Healy has

performed pieces of De Markies van Water on several occasions in England and the UK. One of them was on 7 February 2010 at a cultural happening around the occasion of planting an oak tree by Cruchtime Artists in Residence in York, as part of the worldwide project 7000 Oaks initiated by Joseph Beuys. 16

Koningsveld, Gijs van, ‘The

Wahnsyntax of Pop’. PPP no. 28 (2004) and published on the internet accompanying De Markies van Water on


From the very first moment Hofstede’s art was strongly related to his writings. In his attack on popular culture he uses the profundity and complexity of the human mind and soul, the ‘Psycho’, expressed in words as a tool or weapon. The book ‘De Markies van Water’ is the most discerning expression of Paleo Psycho Pop. It is written in a self composed language that was inspired by James Joyce’s Ulysses (1882-1941) in which the Irish writer perfected his characteristic ‘Stream of Consciousness’ technique of writing.12 A multilayered structure of time and place and characters is also essential to the De Markies van Water. The structure of the language however, is conceived quite differently from a complex system of word assemblage that in its effect of sound-poetry alludes to Dada and Kurt Schwitters’ (1887-1948) ‘Ur Sonata’ (1922-1932) and in essence exfoliates from the sound, ‘Owah’, ‘Eau’ and ‘Wah’.13 Other than in the meaninglesss, rather musical and rythmical effective, sound-poetry of Schwitters, Hofstede’s language, although not practised by anyone but himself, is a form of poetry of which the content can be understood by anyone who speaks English and has the ability to surrender and immerge in the flow of words.

In the text the most powerful of the elements ‘Water’, ‘Eau’, ‘O’ take on metamorphic qualities and seem to be changing in appearance and moving from the beginning of time through the entrance of the underworld, the ‘anus mundus’ to a cataclysmic flood, transforming as in the rhythmic cries of an indigenous warrior, vigorous and explosive but also implosive and musical. The abstruseness of the language becomes more accessible once pronounced in the eighthour reading of the entire story by Patrick Healy.15 The historian Gijs van Koningsveld, who has studied the text meticulously, reveals the storyline of De Markies van Water and unlocks many of the highly complex connections and allusions hidden in this magical, almost hallucinatory work, in his article ‘The Wahnsyntax of Pop’.16 The cascade of words reflects the ‘orgy of names’ and empty words of which pop-culture consists, but a closer study confirms that the citation and collaging of names is not a mere coincidence but a thoughtful selected composition. In their new connotations and amalgamations, names, notions and words gain a reinvigorated meaning, reborn after collision and consequent destruction, challenging the principle Paleo Psycho Pop, that of recreation after the decline. Not only through the destruction of words but also in the explosive and often psychedelic content of the text, the artist achieves a state of experience that seems almost hallucinatory but becomes clearer in its rythmic and musical vocabulary after a while, as if it were inspired by Gyorgy Sandor Ligeti (1923-2006).17



















































































On finishing the work in progress ‘De Markies van Water’ (MW), Paris 1987 - Amsterdam 1995




Defunkt, The Edge of the Funk Blade, 1996 Bootzilla Inuit Songs, 2011


Beware of Germans, record-sleeves, 2011 Carte de Visite, 2010




Gyorgy Sandor Ligeti (1923-

2006) was a Hungarian composer whose music can be characterized by micro-polyphony where there is a concentration on the texture of the sound instead of the regular contents of melody, harmony, rhythm and timbre. See also: Patrick Healy, Paleo Psycho Pop, Trashface (Dublin, 2009), p. 9. 18 19

Ibid, p. 106.

James Joyce (1882-1941),

Finnegans Wake, (Paris 1939). The book is written in an idiosyncratic language consisting of multilingual puns and composed words, which attempts to recreate the experience of sleep and dreams. It is known for its linguistic experiments, literary allusions, free dream associations, and its abandonment of conventions of plot and character. 20

See Koningsveld, Gijs van,

‘The Wahnsyntax of Pop’. PPP no. 28 (2004) and published on the internet accompanying De Markies van Water (n.p.)


The storyline of the 200-page long story, or myth, about water was initially inspired by James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake (1929).19 The amalgamation of explosive and psychical references convey a tension that will eventually lead to the apocalyptic moment of the sunset in the sea. The setting is the Low Lands, in reference to The Netherlands (and to T.S. Elliott’s ‘The Waste Land’), where in the duration of one hour the sun will set, the land will be flooded and the sun will rise again, a simultaneous myth about apocalypse and creation. In this apocalyptic hour, the protagonist, the Marquis, preaches about the return to unspoiled, pristine values and releases an unconditional critique on everything and everyone that can be associated with the idols of pop. In the performance of the declamation of the story, the Marquis bellows threats and convictions onto his subjects not unlike a Calvinist preacher commenting on the decadence of the West as expressed in its ‘pop-culture’. The West, represented by Holland, will be washed away once the dykes break. The dykes are used as metaphor for the bourgeois mentality that prevents the irrational from breaking through, blocking creative rapture, while Dutch Old Masters are being swallowed by the water:20

Patrick Healy reading De Markies van Water in ’The Spermwhale Cathedral’, installation in The Lightfactory exhibition, Watertoren, Vlissingen 1999



Vermeer Moon Disc, MAD Tour, collage, plastic bags, crayon, glue on paper, (38 x 38 cm), Moscow 1996


How passages like these find direct reflection in Hofstede’s visual work becomes clear in for example a Vermeer collage where the ‘Girl of Vermeer’ appears to float in space, fragmented and torn apart in an explosive rapture, framed in a circular shape that is reminiscent of that of a globe. The collage style with its torn up elements and the juxtaposing of moments in history and culture, or culture and nature are recognizable in many of Hofstede’s works. The character of ‘De Markies’ (‘The Marquis’) appears as a personification of nature, transgressing the boundaries of gender, ethnography and history. He emerges as a new kind of popstar who is freed from ego and machismo and the perverted sense ofnself-righteousness as exemplified by many popstars or artists of today’s art scene.22 This metaphor of reification of the idealised character alludes once more to the crusade for renewal of values. Presented in a repetitive but each time differently collaged way the names are used as signs but other than in pop art, they are not ‘auraless’ signs but rather contain multiple meanings with each time new allusions. Certain characters in De Markies van Water take on an enigmatic position such as Sergeant Pepper from the Beatles’ Lonely Heart Club (quoted 36 times). He is one of the few survivors of the apocalyptic flood.23


Hofstede, (1998/ 2006) pp. 221-223. 22

Koningsveld, Gijs van,


‘The Wahnsyntax of Pop’. PPP no. 28 (2004) p. 11. The Sergeant appears as one of


the speakers in Hofstede’s Paleo Psycho Pop and in the essay, ‘The Sergeant Dreaming’, it becomes clear that Hofstede, and the Sergeant are one and the same. Hilarius Hofstede,

The story is full of references to bands and musicians that according to the artist touch upon the soul of music: Jim Morrison, John Lennon, Jimmy Hendrix, James Brown, Miles Davis, and many other Jazz Giants: ‘CHARLES MINGUS MINGUS MINGUS MINGUS IN WONDERLAND MUD INDIGO IN WONDERLAND THRICE UPON A THEME SAINT JAMES BASIN SPLAINE DU NORD ESPACE MUDDIZZY GILLESPIE’ 25

Paleo Psycho Pop, Writings 1995-2008, Trashface Books, (Dublin, 2009), p 129. 24

Hofstede, (1998/ 2006) p. 145

Next to Jazz, Funk music is highly praised and in particular the band Funkadelic and its leader George Clinton and the originator of Funk Music Sun Ra

and PPP 9. 25

Hofstede, (1998/ 2006) p. 163. 26

Ibid, p 5.



London Pop News, flyers, ‘The State of Denmark Street’, London 2000. Photo: Phil Harris


The Small Faces, detail, collage, cd-covers, vilt, ‘The State of Denmark Street’, London 2000 (Collection Marchi, Florence)


Natures Mortes


The Serpent and the Rainbow, different materials and objects, London 1998

Transference/Skin into Light, different materials and objects, ‘Poprise’, London 1998

Metaphysical passage through a feline Beatle in Russia, print, hat, badge, plush tiger, ‘The State of Denmark Street’, London 2000

27 28

PPP. 9 H. Hofstede.

This and other personal facts

became clearer during conversations held with Robin van Erven Dorens, who knows the artist well and who made the documentary ‘Islands of the Soul’ Hofstede in 2009/11. 29

Koningsveld, Gijs van,

‘The Wahnsyntax of Pop’. PPP no. 28 (2004) p. 3. 30

Barthes Roland. Mythologies.

(Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1957), translated by Jonathan Cape, (London: Vintage, 2009), p. 131.

As Punk represents a force in the destruction of pop, Funk is celebrated as music of creativity and reconciliation experienced as the portal to the primary instincts of the human soul through music. In Hofstede’s language, ‘Feng Shui’ becomes ‘Funk Shui’. Funk is presented as a state of appeasing homeliness and a means to redirect blocked energies.27 In his creations during that period of time (1995-96), the ritual was already a prominent element in Hofstede’s work and resulted in the creation of several ‘altarlike’ works, a feature that continued to be characteristic in his work throughout his entire career. The artist as being the ‘warrior’, the ‘sorcerer’, and ‘magician’ who seeks the power of the possibility to create or find the magic in things, through transgression between the natural and the supernatural, the spiritual world or that of the ‘De Markies van Water’ where this trangression between differentiated levels of history, music, culture, philosophy, geography and more, is conceived within the medium of the word.28 Gijs van Koningsveld describes the flow of words: ‘neologistic hybrids (...) turning popstars into shamans, politicians into popstars, and pornstars into spiritual gurus’.29 In the text the transformation of the inherent significance of an object, person or phenomenon into another, or the subsequent implication of subliming its significance through confrontation, destruction and the subsequent recreation of a new body, can be understood as the creation of a new myth in a transcendental way.

In the contemplation of those mythological aspects a differentiation can be made on three levels of reasoning: Firstly, notions relating to the content of the work of art, secondly those relating to the form, and thirdly the significance of myth as being communicated by the work. Regarding ‘ De Markies van Water’, the first notion, that of content, can be quite clearly understood as a magical story that relates to reality but takes on a mythical significance in its idealistic prediction for the creation of a better world. The second notion, that of the form, in this case the language of the poem, is more complicated and primarily draws attention. The play of words as signs, is an interesting notion that directly relates to Roland Barthes’ theory of Mythology. As described above, the elements of Hofstede’s writing become isolated from the context, words become signs that in their new constellation gain a renewed significance. In ‘Myth Today’ Barthes proposes that: ‘(...) myth is a type of speech,(...) myth is a system of communication, (...) it is a message. This allows one to perceive that myth cannot possibly be an object, a concept, or an idea; it is a mode of signification, a form (...)’ 30


Funk Shui, installation, with Berend Hoekstra, Brussels 1999



Hey man... smell my finger!, 1995



Ibid p. 132.



Nicolas, Relational Aesthetics. (Dijon, Les Presses du Reéel, 1998/2009) p.12. 33

Hofstede, Hilarius, Markies van Water,

(Dublin, 1998/ Amsterdam, 2006) p.34 and p. 222 34

Around 1925 Artaud was the

keyfigure in the surrealist movement engaging in anything which rejected rationality. After he critisized Breton he was rejected from the group, a similar story to Schwitters’. With the “Theatre of Cruelty” (1938) he staged an Avant-Garde kind of theatre where the interaction with the public was introduced in order to restore a passionate and convulsive conception of life. See: Jamieson, Lee. Antonin Artaud: From Theory to Practice, Greenwich Exchange, 2007. Artaud advocated a theatre made


up of a unique language, halfway between thought and gesture. He described the spiritual in physical terms, and believed that all theatre is a certain physical expression in space. Esslin, Martin. Antonin Artaud, John Calder (London, 1976)

Hofstede’s prose could be considered as myth in the line of thought that Barthes presents, by implementing mythical signification into a language that can be assigned as mythical speech. Barthes argues that myth: ‘can consist of modes of writing or of representations; not only written discourse, but also photography, cinema, reporting, sport, shows, publicity, all these can serve as a support to mythical speech.’31 Where Barthes relates to photography, and predominantly the implications of reproduction on the perception of ‘modern man’ that is dominated and influenced by our post-war, consumer orientated society, Hofstede has a similar but more complex way of approaching issues of analogy. Hofstede’s myth refers to a broader range in history in which he relates to exempla and personalities that are of interest to the artist because of their historical or cultural significance. The artist incorporates and appropriates significant historical figures in his work in the reactionary process of contemporary avant-garde art, in a way that compares to Nicolas Bourriaud’s analysis of contemporary artists who mirror the Avant-Garde in the 1920’s in the continuation of the fight to change culture, attitudes and mentalities; ‘(...) today’s art is carrying on this fight that of avantgarde, by coming up with perceptive, experimental, critical and participatory models, veering in the direction indicated by Enlightment philosophers like Proudhon, Marx, the Dadaists and Mondrian (...)’ 32

An example of this reflective process is the importance of the persona of Antonin Artaud in reference to the work of Hofstede, who gains mythological significance throughout the enfolding of his writings. In ‘De Markies van Water’ the name ARTAUD is cited 33 times, each time occurring in another composition of the text. As in the following two examples, one in the beginning and one at the end, during the scene of inundation and in the final part during the salvation of the sunrise: “ FUNKIEFERALLSDELITTERRA TOUCHEATERRESTREAMADEUS MOUSSARTAUD IOMUTT MARQUESATANTANGO GUINEANDERTTELLING A TALE OF WATER” ”GET ON THROUGH BREAK ON DOWN SGT.POP-ARTAUD PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTAUDDISABIBBERSPALE AFLOW ON A-VAUL’EAUL’EAU SUNRISE AFLOAT ON MEMORY DRIFT HADESSOLVING MONEY INTO MADNESS SUCKNESS INTO HEALTH” 33 The interest in this French playwright, poet and actor is remarkable as Antoine Marie Joseph Artaud (1896-1948) was very influential on the early Surrealists.34 Because of the multiple references that Hofstede makes to the French writer in ‘De Markies van Water’ it is clear that the artist is engaged with Artauds ideas and personality.35




Tarantula Bay, poster, pins, glue, 2011


60’s, collage, ink on magazine, Amsterdam 1995



Marc Bolan, collage, ink on paper, 1995 (Collectie Stephanie and David Hessing)


You are what you desire, collage, ink on paper, 1995


Untitled, collage, crayon on paper, 1996


The Birth of Iris (20 05 1996)



An exhibition by Hofstede in Dublin as part of the M.A.D. tour in 1996 was described as: “

the artist [Hofstede] had created a savage theatre of dissolution” Ex. Cat. PIG (1999) p.8. 37

On Artaud: Esslin, Martin. Antonin Artaud,

(London: John Calder, 1976) and: Jamieson, Lee. Antonin Artaud: From Theory to Practice. (London: Greenwich Exchange, 2007) 38

The factors that Barthes

distinguishes are the signifier, the signified and the sign. 39

On Hofstede’s P.P.P. and criticism on popular culture see: Koningsveld, Gijs van, ‘The Wahnsyntax of Pop’. PPP no. 28 (2004).


The character of Artaud also is influential to the artist with regard to psychological analogies between them. For Artaud, imagination, thoughts and dreams where no less real than the outside world. To him reality appeared to be a consensus, like the consensus of the audience in a theatre who accept that the performed is reality. The aggression within the artistic process, as presented in Artaud’s avant-garde ‘Theatre of Cruelty’ (1938), where false reality should be shattered by a certain cruelty for example, is also essential to Hofstede’s work.36 The cruelty involved was identified by Artaud as an artistic ‘moral purity’. He intended to provoke a thrill of experience by bringing the audience in direct contact with the dangers of life. This could be an interesting analogy with a certain kind of cruelty that is reflected in the aggression and ominousness that characterizes many of Hofstede’s works. Manifested in several stages of the creative process, the analogy of aggression ranges from the reference to the source of inspiration (Marquesas warriors), to the aim of the artist (reconstruction after destruction) and to the artwork itself (torn up, battered and then glued together). This cruelty may even be reflected in the recursive confrontation of the artist with himself as both Artaud and Hofstede received treatment in mental hospitals. Analogies continue, such as the shared interest in primitive cultures: Artaud was fascinated by the Mexican Tarahumaran while Hofstede is

intrigued by the Marquesas culture. Both are drawn to Ireland and they share a particular interest in experimenting with writing.37 Regarding the mythification of a name, that of Artaud, it is interesting to see how this inspiratory character is incorporated in a configuration of other words or parts of words and how it gains a new significance, carrying a certain mythological value in it. The meaning of the words in the cited lines should be sought after with imagination, however, one can understand what the artist suggests once the syllables are unruffled and articulated: ‘Funk-Kiefer-Alls-DeliTerra-Touch-Terrestre-AmadeusMouss- Artaud’ and in the second part: ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart Band’ becomes intertwined with ‘Artaud’ and ’Pop’ with ‘Hades dissolving Money into Madness’ and the sun rises, the culmination of the legend of apotheosis and the start of a ‘New‘ day or era in which degenerated values are sanitized. Particularly the last sentence is interesting. ‘SGT.POP-ARTAUD PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTAUDDISABIBBERSPALE’. Here the legendary character of the Beatles’ song, Sgt. Pepper, sign of authenticity in a time when music was man-written, manperformed with meaning that immediately appealed to the youth of that period, becomes not only in words but also in person one with the figure of Artaud. In the course of the reading it becomes apparent that Sgt. Pepper


Barthes Roland. Mythologies.

(Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1957), transl Jonathan Cape, (London: Vintage, 2009), p. 133. 41

idem p. 135.

and Artaud and other legendary figures are all one and the same ‘signifier’. They are presented as avatar, the incarnation of the mythical figure and part of the fluid composite embodied by the Marquis. Barthes distinguishes three factors in his analysis of what he calls the ‘mythical system’38. The second factor of Barthes’ ‘mythical system’ refers to the concept, the so called ‘signified’. The concept in the example would be that the character of Antonin Artaud is unified with the legendary figure of Sgt. Pepper and that time and epoch are brought together through the unification of the ideas and charismas of these historical figures. The third term is the correlation between the two and the idea it conveys, the myth, the ‘sign’ or signification. In the poem of ‘De Markies van Water’ this sign is about the battle fought by authentic thinkers, artists and musicians that were and are deeply connected to the human spirit and soul, often deriving from the 60’s when love and peace reigned and pop was still a creative and uncorrupted force. A battle against the degeneration and the shallowness of popular consumption driven culture, ruled by pop-stars and celebrities eager to assemble fortunes and to feed their narcissism through idolatry created around their persons.39 This is where a new ‘signifying consciousness’ is growing, a referential frame that originates from the language in which it is proposed, that reveals the myth. Barthes also argues that: ‘Myth in fact belongs to the province of a general science, coexistensive with

linguistics, which is semiology’.40 He expands on the dialectical coordination of mythology and semiology: ‘it is a part of both semiology inasmuch as it is a formal science, and of ideology inasmuch as it is an historical science: it studies ideas-in-forms’.41 How this ‘myth’ comes to life and how Hofstede’s visual art originated in his writings, becomes clear in the observation of the work ‘River’ (1995) where image and text become one and where the myth about water gains visual and semiotic appearance. In these earlier ‘record sleeve’ works, of which Hofstede made at least 4 large pieces (River, Ocean, Totem/20th Century Lascaux and Dancefloor for Nietsche), the artist explores his ideas on ‘the marriage between Pop and Nature’ in a very transparent and playful way. Created through the careful positioning of record sleeves from mainly funk music, the colours and lettering of the individual records, morph to a painterly flow when observed from a certain distance. Ocean is reflecting on the extremities of deep sea and outer space eg. nature vs technology, Totem on the spirituality with regard to the animal world and Dancefloor for Nietsche on the ego of youths in the pop-era. Next to the aesthetic value of these works that strike in pictorial plenitude and equilibrium of colour, the notion of a juxtaposing, an encounter, clash or amalgamation of the extremities of our world, space, the universe, the sun and the sea, reinvigorate the visual appearance. 79

River: The centre of the piece is confined by the glow of a deep red zigzag pattern around a descending sun of which the cover of George Clinton appears at the heart, next to an image of Christ and that of Miles Davis. This central part of the work transfigures the cataclysmic moment at Sunset in ‘De Markies van Water’ where the flood destroys the past and makes way for the burgeoning of a new epoch. The iconographical significance of this explosion of nature of the sun setting in the sea, reaching back to the ancient fear for dying and the hope for rebirth, is here visualized and sublimated by Hofstede through a complicated system of semiotic references relating to the history of the world, that of nature, culture, music and to the artist himself: an ultimate piece of Paleo Psycho Pop.



River, record-covers, PALEO PSYCHO POP, (810 x 150 cm) exhibition Van Reekum 1995 (Collectie Van Reekum Museum) Totem (detail), record-covers, Van Reekum Museum 1995 (Collection Becht) RIGHT

Ocean (detail), record-sleeves, PALEO PSYCHO POP, (360 x 210 cm) exhibition Van Reekum Museum 1995 (Collection SNS Real) Ocean, record-sleeves, PALEO PSYCHO POP exhibition Van Reekum Museum 1995 (Collection SNS Real)



The work River is part of the

collection of Frits Becht together with Ocean and Totem. Van Reekum Museum Amersfoort ’95, exhibition curated by Frits Bless, financed by Dick Hessing 43

For Hofstede Funk music seems to exemplify the transmission of a deeper form of musical art, where the soul of the artist - the

musician in this case - is expressed and takes on the responsibility of artistic practice. George Clinton and his inspiration on Sun Ra, who stood at the cradle of this reinvigorating style of music, became crucial personalities in the work of Hofstede. 44

See also appendix IV Q.5: HH on MvW.


Note also the comment of H.

Hofstede on myth and ‘De Markies van Water’ in the interview attached (appendix IV).


An illustration of ‘River’ that was part of an exhibition in the van Reekum Museum in Apeldoorn in 1995, shows annotations from the artist and reveals some of the thoughts behind this work in particular.42 The centre of the piece is confined by the glow of a deep red zigzag pattern around a descending sun of which the cover of George Clinton appears at the heart, next to an image of Christ and that of Miles Davis.43 The assemblage is a compilation of record covers that communicate through their presence as metonyms for expression from the heart and soul of the musicians, bearing in it the authenticity that the artist seeks. “ Passage through fire”, meandering in the heat, the sun descends, into: “ the transition into water”. This central part of the work transfigures the cataclysmic moment at Sunset in ‘De Markies van Water’ where the flood destroys the past and makes way for the burgeoning of a new epoch.44 The iconographical significance of this explosion of nature of the sun setting in the sea, reaching back to the ancient fear for dying and the hope for rebirth, is here sublimated by Hofstede and visualized in the centre of this piece. Towards the sides, the notes refer to nature and “aura” on the left side, and towards the right there seem to be more connections with the artist himself, “Holland”, “breaking through”, “fluidity” and “psychosis”. The work presents itself as an explosion or even an implosion of signs that refer to ‘De Markies van Water’.

The story gains mythical significance in its comment on the state of art both in historical sense, as in the present as in the future through a complicated system of semiotic references relating to the history of the world, that of nature, culture, music and to the artist himself: an ultimate piece of Paleo Psycho Pop.45 In retrospect it becomes even clearer that Hofstede’s visual and performative creations derive from ‘De Markies van Water’. The visualisation of myth can be seen as the implementation of the mission of Paleo Psycho Pop, namely: to break with the Dutch ‘Mondriaan tradition’ of art, to ‘break the dykes’ and to present a new form of art, a new mythology inspired on the most elemental form of nature: Water.46 How this is materialised and stylistically evolved, will be discussed further in the next chapters. However, it is interesting at this stage to refer once more to Bourriaud’s discourse on contemporary avant-garde art where he draws attention to the tendency of the ongoing struggle of 20th Century artists between two visions of the world: that of the rationalist conception as opposed to ‘a philosophy of spontaneity and liberation through the irrational (Dada, Surrealism, the Situationists)’ and to the notion that today’s art is carrying on this struggle, although reformed on the basis of quite different philosophical, cultural and social presuppositions.47 In this line of thinking Hofstede’s work could formally be read in the line of COBRA.

Exh. Cat. Hoekstra/Hofstede PIG,


Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art, (Amsterdam 1999) p. 8. Healy notes that the use of record sleeves and earlier book covers, is also a comment on Mondriaan’s geometrical style. However in the interview (appendix IV) Hofstede also states: Q: What is for you the Mondriaan tradition? H.H.: “A badly cut cake, with some jazz in the backround. To me it is work which derives from the very structures of the Dutch landscape, of this giant squaring up of Holland, from an areal perspective, also in the mind, of Reason. No nature. I find that there is not always energy in these works, and it is this tradition that this work paved the way for some of the more boring artworks in Holland. Before Mondriaan made his transformation he had a long beard, real itchy, real Taliban”. 47 48

Bourriaud, (2009) p.12.

see for more on Cobra now: Exh. Cat., Intensely Dutch.

Art Gallery New South Wales. (Sydney, 2009). 49

HH refers to the Dutch origins

– in particular of the Markies van Water - quite explicit in the interview (appendix IV): “It’s very much a Dutch book, pushing the experimental tradition within Dutch literature.” 50

Natural Born History and Popgun are both exhibitions that are concerned with the interference of existing collections as will be discussed in Chapter 3.

There is an interesting similarity in the basic associative approximation of culture and nature, in the use of raw materials and the explosive character of the work. However there is also a distinct difference that sets Hofstede apart from this group. As COBRA was deliberately moving away from cultural paradigms, Hofstede’s work is quite cultural-historical engaged and is in its intellectual profound complexity, representing a new generation of Dutch art.48 Additionally, although Hofstede’s work is very Dutch in inspiration,49 his referential perspective -although Dutch in origin-, is universal and has in essence and form more affinities with the work of the American artist Jimmy Durham (b. 1940). Durham’s reflection on the losses of culture of the Indigenous native American people, is communicated in a very similar way as Hofstede’s PPP. In his installations there is often a binary tension of confrontation between culture and nature with a potential mediation and exchange of culture. There is an integration of words and images and like Hofstede, he is concerned with the ritual value of objects and therefore often uses raw materials that function as metaphors for the authenticity of an ancient culture. There is a strong mythical value in Durham’s work. Notwithstanding there are also substantial differences that set the artists apart. Clearly Durham is working with his personal ancestral cultural identity, with motives like the displacement of native American people and he is actively political engaged, while for Hofstede the

mythification of the Marquesas is related to a more universal ideological research. Hofstede’s exhibition, Polynesian Instant Geography, is particularly close to Durham’s work of the 1990’s. Especially in its appearance with regard to the materials used, it conveys a strong sense of the negative aesthetics of the contemporary avant-garde. However, for Durham the dialogue with the material on the one side and that with the audience on the other side, makes that he remains focussed on the material qualities and properties belonging to certain objects and the rearranging of those throughout his career, while Hofstede moves away from the focus on the integration of the object as a metonym of culture, to continue the ideological quest of the confrontation between culture and nature in a more conceptual context, as can be seen in the exhibitions Natural Born History (2005) and Popgun (2007).50 Another equivalent of comparable work can be found in some of the artists that were part of the exhibition ‘Mythologies’, organized in London early 2009 at the former Museum of Mankind and now gallery Haunch of Venison. This exhibition was concerned with contemporary art that analyzes the signs that circulate in everyday life, where the common place is made wonderful and the logical and rational made mysterious and magical. Through the study of mythology, it is possible to find the underlying similarities in diverse belief systems that can help understand fundamental aspects of the world and its people. 83


Ethnography, anthropology, natural history, otherness,

the ritual and the occult, religion and archives, are recurrent subjects in the exhibition. Amongst the participants were artists like Carlos Amorales (1970-), Rina Banerjee (1963-), Sophie Calle (1953-), Tim Noble (1966-) & Sue Webster (1967-) Exh. Cat. Mythologies, Haunch of Venison, (London 2009). 52

These artists are known as ‘The Artists of the Grand Rue’ and transform detritus of the

fallen Haitian economy into radical, morbid and phallic sculptures inspired on Voodoo spirits.

The chosen works intended to illustrate how artists create, use and are guided by their own ideological systems in their observations on contemporary societies, in a way that Hofstede’s work could also be interpreted.51 Some of the contributions would be well challenged by the work of Hofstede. For example, the work of Jean Herard Celeur (1966) and Guydo (b. 1973), inspired by Haitian culture, shows many similar features as Hofstede’s work does, such as the use of ethnological qualities to incorporate the other in combination with integration and identification.52

The artists are selected because of their creative vision on cultural continuity. Exh. Cat. Mythologies, Haunch of Venison, (London 2009) p. 52.

In Polynesian Instant Geography Hofstede works in a similar manner, spiritualizing objects from the Polynesian culture in his endeavour to animate ‘dead’ things and to reach out for the connection with the purity and the authenticity of the indigenous. Hofstede’s mutilayered approach however, contributes to an interesting profundity to the possible connectivity and significance of primitive cultures into our western modernised consideration of culture. Obviously the work of these artists cannot be considered under one and the same umbrella but there seems to be an interesting correlation, complementing one another in the addressing of analogous subjects that relate to the questioning of how contemporary society deals with structural problems of our time, creating an own ‘language’ or


referential code to communicate certain ideas. Moreover there seems to be a similtude in interest that deals with the struggle of the distancing from what we have become in the course of an era where society has lost touch with the innate experience of the intelligent human being and how to reconnect and express those feelings and thoughts of essence about our culture. Where this interest comes from in the work of Hofstede and how he implements Paleo Psycho Pop and the dialectic of culture and nature in more recent work will be discussed in the next chapters.

Phallus, MAD Tour, record-sleeves, Dublin 1996 (Collectie Becht)

Dancefloor for Nietzsche, record-sleeves, MAD Tour, Thomas Warehouse, Dublin 1996


The Disagreable Melancholy of the Schizo-Body, toy monkey, post-card, MAD Tour, Vickers Lane, Dublin 1996


03 SURREALISM DADA AND BEUYS ‘We are still living under the reign of logic...But in this day and age logical methods are applicable only to solving problems of secondary interest (...) forbidden is any kind of search for truth which is not in conformance with accepted practices. (...)’ André Breton (1924)53 It was in Moscow in 1996, during the MAD tour, that Hofstede walked with a plush baboon embraced in his arms from the Kasjenko Psychiatric Institute in the south of the city to another mental hospital near the river Volga. During this poetic action of the ritual sacrificing of ‘The Ape of Reason’, Hofstede was concerned with an attempt to provoke a ‘cataclysm of the souls’.54


‘André Breton (1896-1966) from

the First Manifesto of Surrealism,’ in: Stiles, Kristine & Selz, Peter ed. Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art. A sourcebook of artists writings. University of California Press (Berkeley and Los Angeles 1996), p. 448. 54

Hofstede, Hilarius, ‘M.A.D. 96’,

PPP no.1 (Dublin, 1996) and Hilarius Hofstede, Paleo Psycho Pop, Writings 1995-2008, (Dublin:Trashface Books, 2009), p. 31.

Challenging this performance in contemplation rather than following the initial association with a ludicrous act, it is possible to articulate some of the deeper meanings in Hofstede’s art that allude to Surrealistic ideas as described by André Breton. The macaque is a reoccurring image in Hofstede’s work and stands for intelligence, curiosity and reason, and also for the transition between the human and the animal world. Walking between one mental hospital and the other, reminds one of Baudelaire’s ‘flaneur’, as reinvigorated by the essay of Walter Benjamin, and that found its complement in contemporary surrealist art and in the situationism. The combination of exploring both the ‘material’ and ‘spiritual’ path relates further to the allusion of the ‘mental wanderer’ where the artist allows himself to drift into another worldly sense of spirit and time. This surrealist notion of dialectics of perception, in time, place and consciousness, or that of reality versus fantasy, is a threshold that is one of the rhizomes in Hofstede’s work. These wanderings of the mind also find their reflection in other psychogeographical notions in the artist’s work. Not only as 87


The Mad Walks, (action), Moscow 1996

Sacrificing the Ape of Reason on the banks of the Moskva River, plush baboon, goat-heads, granate-apples, Moscow 1996


Space did not exist before Gagarin entered it, Gagarin Monument, Moscow 1996


Saluting Gagarin (The Moscow Loner) MAD Tour, Moscow 1996 Praying to Gagarin (The Moscow Loner) MAD Tour, Moscow 1996


Like A Bird in Flight, finishing the MAD Tour, Vickers Lane, Dublin 1996


The Exploded Warrior, fotocopies on hard-board, uv-light, MAD Tour, Vickers Lane, Dublin 1996 The Marquesan Warrior and his Rainbow, photocopies, rainbow toy, ‘Wordwall 3’, Galerie Onrust, Amsterdam 1996



Merlin Coverly on the influence of Wiliam Blake on Psychogeography today in:

Psychogeography, Pocket Essentials (Harpenden, 2006) p.40 56

See for an extensive study on the

theme of wandering, surrealism and situationism: Francesco Careri. Walking as an Aesthetic Practice. Editorial Gustavo Gili (Barcelona, Mexico City &Amadora, 2005) 57

Ibid p. 77 and Louis Aragon, Le

Paysan de Paris (1926). Gallimard (Paris, 1953) p.175. 58

Walter Benjamin, ‘Surrealism:

The Last Snapshot of European Intelligentsia’ (1929) in One Way Street, trans. Edmund Jephcott and Kingsley Shorter, Verso (London, 1985) p.22. 59

For further reading: Rhodes,

Colin. Outsider Art. Spontaneous Alternatives. Thames & Hudson Ltd (London, 2000); Prinzhorn, Hans, Bildernei der Geisteskranken. Ein beitrag zur Psychologie und Psychopathologie der Gestaltung. Springer (Berlin 1922) translated by E. von Brockdorf as: Artistry of the Mentally Ill, Springer ( Berlin, 1972) ed Douglas, Caroline; and: Jadi, Inge; Brand-Claussen, Bettina. Beyond Reason: Art and Psychosis, Works from the Prinzhorn Collection. (Hayward Gallery, London 1996).


in those of the originator William Blake (1757-1827) about the battle between the antirational forces of the imagination and the repressive and systematic forces of authority, but also in the situationist idea of the revolutionary cessation of the everyday, by the imposition of his own imaginative vision of that, such as will be seen in the exhibition Polynesian Instant Geography in particular.55 Moreover, the metaphor of ‘water’ quintessential to the work of Hofstede, can be understood in reference to the fluidity of the wanderer and the surrealist vision of the city as a kind of ‘amniotic fluid’ expanded to the situationist concept of the derive, a drifting through the liquid space ‘without direction, at the mercy of waters’.56 Liquidity can also be associated with the imaginative interlacing, intertwining of lines traced by walkers in a city, which reflects the image of a rhizomatic structure overall, as referred to in this essay. Alongside the surrealist and situationist ideas that the act alludes to, this particular expedition of Hofstede can also be explained as exemplary for the wish of the artist to give expression to his personal experience of reason and of freedom undermining the influence of the hyper controlled society in which he chose the action to take place. “Rationality = Superstition” is one of the statements that the artist made in 1995. The described ritual can be understood within the context of the

personal psychological experience of the artist, that of collision between the inner and the outer world, on the threshold of reason and irrationality and also on that of the human and the world of animals, that of the ‘in-between’ space between ‘mental landscapes’ as mentioned by Breton.57 The surrealist probe in the subconscious of hypnosis and ‘automatic writing’, and reaching out for the subconscious wandering in thoughts and fantasies, are other prominent features considered in the work of Hofstede as seen in the former chapter. The idea of the ‘outmoded’ as decribed by Walter Benjamin as the ‘telescoping’ of past and futures within a single dialectical image, is also experimented with in De Markies van Water.58 The ritual expedition moreover, refers directly to the biographical background of the artist. After finishing his book ‘De Markies van Water’ and the trilogy of works ‘Ocean’, ‘River’ and ‘Totem/20th Century Lascaux’ in 1995, Hofstede was admitted to the psychiatric hospital Zon & Schild in Amersfoort (NL). Hence, it is tempting to interpret the Moscow ritual offering scene as an eccentric action and relate it to a form of expression that could be read under the umbrella of Outsider Art as introduced by Hans Prinzhorn in Heidelberg in around 1920 and that gained renewed interest and understanding in the late 1990’s.59


Foster, Hal, ‘Blinded Insights: On

the Modernist Reception of the Art of the Mentally Ill’. October, Vol. 97, (Summer, 2001), pp. 3-30. 61

André Breton, Manifestoes of

Surrealism, transl. by R. Seaver and H.R. Lane, Ann Arbor Press, (University of Michigan, 1969) p. 47.

Although Hofstede conforms to the description of ‘Outsider’ artists in the sense of not having completed a scholarly art education and having experience with mental hospitals, there are some substantial arguments to suggest that this is not an adequate description of his artistic endeavours. In the first place there is a significant difference in motives to artistically create, that distinguishes Hofstede from most artists presented under this name. As Hal Foster comments on the exhibition Beyond Reason (Hayward Gallery, London 1996) on the subject of ‘Outsider Art’, particularly related to the Prinzhorn’s collection, that this was art that was created in a situation mainly and principally encouraged institutionally, to give patients the opportunity to visually express their own experience of illness. Foster questions the origin from the creative motives, deriving from the patients or their doctors.60 There clearly are moments in Hofstede’s career that he uses drawing as a remedial act, the initial incentive of artistic expression however is not related to his psychological problems. It even can be argued that Hofstede, particularly during the writing of the ‘Markies van Water’, reached out so far into his own mental perception in the process of his creation, that he used his mental transgressive situation to conceive a state of perception of ‘psychic automatism’ that André

Breton referred to in his description of surrealism: “Surrealism: psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to expressverbally, by means of the written word, or any other mannerthe actual functioning of thought.” André Breton (1924)61 In the first chapter it is explained that the ‘Markies van Water’ is written in a language that is almost hallucinatory, following the artists’ associative thinking that is understandable but not logical. More than Joyce’s associative ‘stream of consciousness’ technique, it is the result of a recreation of a subconscious way of thinking that he transforms into a conscious one and that he later visualises in his works. Hofstede uses this technique to investigate his inner self in search for what art means to him. In integrating himself as part of the avatar in his perception and ideas in the creation, it appears that the art of Hofstede consists of the creative process as a whole in which the artist himself is part of the artwork. Accordingly, the exploration of the artists’ own psyche, the second ‘P’ in PPP- Paleo Psycho Pop- can be explained and rather reflects the schizomatic way of thinking as proposed by Deleuze and Guatari in their essay on the rhizome in A Thousand Plateaus:



Deleuze, Gilles and Félix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus, Capitalism and Schizofrenia. Tranlated by Brian Massumi. Continuum (Paris, 1980; Minnesota, 1987) p 19. 63

Foucault, Michel.

The Order of Things, Vintage Books (New York 1970), p. 364. 64

‘André Breton (1896-1966) from the First Manifesto of Surrealism,’

in: Stiles, Kristine & Selz, Peter ed. Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art. A sourcebook of artists writings. University of California Press (Berkeley and Los Angeles 1996), p. 448. 65

Melzer, Annabelle. Dada and

Surrealist Performance. PAJ Books : The Johns Hopkins UP (Baltimore and London, 1994). 66

“ Schizoanalysis, treats the unconscious as an acentered system, in other words, as a machinic network of finite automata (a rhizome) and thus arrives at an entirely different state of the unconscious.” 62

Burns Gamard, Elizabeth,

Kurt Schwitters’ Merzbau, The Cathedral of Erotic Misery, Princeton Architectural Press (New York, 2000). The name Merz was taken from a cut-up of the word Kommerzbank.

The artist seems to be searching for a connection between the deepest from within and ‘the other’ from without to come to a new contemporary understanding of art. As Michel Foucault (1926-1984) argued in ‘The Order of Things’ (1966) that ‘modern man’ distinguishes himself of earlier philosophy: “ because he seeks the truth in the unthought, the unconscious and the other. An unveiling of the unconscious is the truth of all the sciences of man”.63 In this line of thinking it can be reasoned that Hofstede’s work should not be merely read as Outsider Art where the final understanding remains collated to a medical psychoanalytic diagnostic reading, while for Hofstede the transgression over mental conscience is part of the artistic process. More appropriate seems the reasoning of Breton: “ If the depths of our mind contain within it strange forces capable of augmenting those on the surface, or waging a victorious battle against them, there is every reason to seize them –first to seize them, then, if need be, to submit them to the control of our reason.” 64


The integration of the self in his work, next to further aspects that will be discussed, suggest that the artist found his inspiration also in other artistic notions and it is possible to claim that he went through an evolution of ideas in which Surrealistic influences were a prominent event. Not surprisingly, Hofstede’s work seems to have found inspiration in Dada, ‘the mother of Surrealism’, and finds analogies in particular with the ideas of the artist and poet Kurt Schwitters (18871948).65 The interplay between life and work that led to Schwitters hermeneutic way of thinking and working, reflect in Hofstede’s work. The Merzbau, the much studied architectural project in his own apartment, that mirrors Schwitters’ Nietzschean path of artistic mediations in which the artist is part of and even the subject of his creation, must have been inspiring.66 Merz, like PPP, was initiated as a oneman movement with no tradition and was invented and practiced by an artist in the search for an antidote in his protest against contemporary society. Schwitters obviously was concerned with the political situation of Germany in the 1930’s and the rejection of the bourgeois capitalist society, while Hofstede is reacting against the consumer focused cultural crisis of the ‘80’s.


See: appendix IV interview,

Hofstede comments on ‘Mondriaan tradition’ and note 37 chap. 1 68

“Ich und meine Ziele” Me and my goals 1931 Kurt Schwitters Das Literarische Werk 69

On Merz see

Burns Gamard Elizabeth Kurt Schwitters’ Merzbau The Cathedral of Erotic Misery Princeton Architectural Press New York, 2000 p. 25 70

Kurt Schwitters, “Merz”, Das Literarische Werk Bd 5, p.74

Nevertheless, a comparison in intention, personality and the way the artists process their ideas, seems to result in more than just a certain affiliation. Hofstede’s declaration of the intention to break with the ‘Mondriaan tradition’67 in a presentation of one of the earliest exhibitions of PPP in the Onrust Gallery in Amsterdam (1996), resonates Schwitters resistance to the purity of the modernist artists of his time. Just as Schwitters broke free from Dada and his Surrealist contemporaries and moved along an individual path in the realm of modernism, Hofstede found a form of expression that uses modernist, surrealist, post-modernist and further avant-garde ideas and forms, in a highly individualistic way that has analogies but no equal among his contemporaries. Schwitters commented on this that his work is in principle “always in flux”.68 The seemingly associative, rhizomatic way of Schwitters’ manner of working and the lack of a fixed point of reference because of the constant interplay between life and art, is essential also to Hofstede’s working process. Another noticeable characteristic is that both artists seem to have been working in a rather self-centered way, as individuals among their contemporaries, while at the same time they justify a strong sense of engagement with

their historical and contemporary surroundings. Notwithstanding the profound protest and urge to express themselves in an explosive way, neither of these two artists directs this confined aggression towards the immediate environment. Their often quite humorous work is rather timeless and concerns relatively universal issues that are related to essential questions of art and humanity such as: ‘what is the recursive and relational significance of art in our time?’ to which they both seem to have answered by creating a realm in art that proposes a new individually conceived story. Like Hofstede’s PPP, the Merz is the creation of an artistically driven mission, the creation of a myth, an art history in itself that follows an undefined path leading in many different directions through multiple media.69 Interesting is also Schwitters’ use and creation of words and poetry: “ My aim is the total work of art (Gesamtkunstwerk), which combines all branches into an artistic work ... First I combined individual categories of art. I have pasted poems from words and sentences so as to produce a rhythmic design. I have on the other hand pasted up pictures and drawings so that sentences could be read in them.” Kurt Schwitters about Merz.70


Serpentine Abbey Road, ‘Poprise’, London 1998 Photo: Phil Harris


Pop-Styx / Pop Lethe - The Crossing / The Cross, Abbey Road, London 1998 (In memoriam Ernst Ris 26-09-1947 – 23-09-1998) Photo: Phil Harris



Rothenberg, Jerome & Pierre

Jones ed. & transl. Kurt Schwitters Poems Performance Pieces Proses Plays Poetics. Temple University Press (Philadelphia 1993). 72

Fully published in: Hilarius Hofstede, Paleo Psycho Pop,

Writings 1995-2008, (Dublin:Trashface Books, 2009) In ‘Crossing with Peter Blake’, Hofstede is in ‘dialogue’ with Peter Blake (the manager of the Beatles) and in spite of the fact that the answers remain blank, the interview gives a fascinating insight in the Beatles and it reveals some of the significance that they have for the artist. 73 74

ibid p. 90.

Koningsveld, Gijs van,

‘The Wahnsyntax of Pop’. PPP no. 28 (2004) n. p.?? In ‘Snakepriest’ the clothes of the


Beatles become iconized and play a redeeming part in the Shamanistic ‘voodoo’ ritual that is about life and death, human and animal, culture and nature and the transgression between those. The snake is the transitional mediator with the spiritual world and is at the same time symbolical for medical powers. Hilarius Hofstede, Paleo Psycho Pop, Writings 1995-2008, (Dublin: Trashface Books, 2009) pp. 162-185.


The use of performance and poetry in artistic creations is obviously very Dada and Hofstede must have felt attracted to this. Particularly interesting is the appropriation of the famous poetry recital at the Café Voltaire by Hugo Ball in 1917 as shown in Hofstede’s reading in 1995. However, even though the performative aspects of Schwitters’ abstract sound poetry must have been inspirational for Hofstede, the “Markies van Water” should be judged on another level of linguistic and intellectual standard than Schwitters’ ‘Ur Sonata’ (1922-1932) that was unprecedented principally because of the nonlexical structure and phonetically interesting form.71 The performative word-sound effect is an aspect that Hofstede also uses in his writings, however, with regard to the content of the ‘Markies van Water’ there is a difference in quality in that it is written in a highly intelligent language that challenges the spectator in a profound intellectual understanding. The graphic effects of the typographical and visual poems of Schwitters, however, are similar to those used by Hofstede and give a Dada appearance to Hofstede’s writings and the appearance of the magazine PPP that also in the proclamatory, provocative content and sometimes collaged form, seems to be related to Dada. Notwithstanding that Hofstede is strongly influenced by Dadaist ideas, again, this is only part of his frame of reference. With the ‘offering of

the ‘Ape of Reason’ to provoke a cataclysm of the souls’, Hofstede wanders through the communal gardens of Dada, surrealism and Beuysian shamanism. In search for the profoundness of the inner soul, Hofstede is constantly seeking for the margins of mental possibilities. How he realises this search may be understood in, for example, the interviews that the artist made with ‘Lord O’ in 1998 and with Peter Blake in “ Crossing with Peter Blake” [Abbey Road, the Beatles] in 2000. 72 Both have a slightly schizophrenic character in which it does not become completely clear to the reader who the interviewed person in reality is and if there is in fact a counterpart. The first is an interview with a mental patient, Lord O, about his experience and schizophrenia: “ HH: Can pop and schizophrenia be the same? Lo: Music reflects really what’s inside, like Bob Dylan reflects his own confusion, his own religious conversion... oh it’s nearly medicine time... It reflects religion, it reflects sex, it reflects all aspects of being human. If you like, music is the image of humanity, a rhythmic, tuneful reflection of humanity.” 73


Hofstede is fascinated with the

Beatles, their songs and history. A phase of Hofstede’s art was created in Denmark Street, the street in London where some of the Beatles records where recorded and where the artist worked and lived in1998. 77

A closer investigation of the

musicians that Hofstede admires and that reoccur in his writings and art, reveal that there also is a connection of Shamanic interest: Sun Ra, George Clinton, James Brown, Miles Davis, Bootsy Collins, Jimmy Hendrix, the Doors and finally the Beatles are all artists that were concerned with the transcendental qualities of music. Sun Ra, who has been cited many times in the ‘De Markies van Water’, is known for his conviction that he is not part of the mundane history, but belongs instead to ‘The Kingdom of Mythology’. It has been argued that the true significance of the blues and jazz tradition can only be grasped through the appreciation of the religious, social and anthropological themes of the African world of animistic magic, which helped carry aspects of this world over the so called ‘New World’. Tucker, Michael.

The words of Lord O seem to express ideas that refer directly to Hofstede’s art and thoughts and should be probably read as such. Music as a medium of transcendence into either the ‘Ur’ state of the inner human self or as a vehicle to overcross into the spiritual world of nature, is a subject that Hofstede is fascinated by and that comes into a clear visualisation in, for example, his works ‘Twin Shamans’ on the funk artist George Clinton of 1995 and ‘Totem & Bull’ in which Latoya Jackson is ambivalently embraced by a python. Shamanism is here proposed as the third connective notion through which Hofstede seeks the transgression from culture to nature in his search for renewed values of artistic expression. Like Joseph Beuys, he is fascinated with the phenomenon of the artist as shaman, acting as a medium between the visible and the invisible world of the spirits of nature, human or those of animals. The implementation of Paleo Psycho Pop as a desire to open up an ‘ancient bewilderment’, a savage nature in everyday ‘pop things’, explains many of Hofstede’s works as materialized also quite literally in the work Totem74.

Shamanizing in shaggy rough costumes and animals like (living) cobras and boa constrictors is common ground for Hofstede; for example the ritual of saving the soul of a dying dear friend, that resulted in Hofstede’s beautiful series of photographs of The Snakepriest.75 The protagonist Ernst Ris, wears the rainbow jacket with stripes and the hat of the Sergeant from St. Peppers Lonely Heart band, famous from the legendary image by Peter Blake on the Beatles album.76 The Beatles are ‘saviours of human souls’ and are used in this shamanistic mythopoetic way to blend magic and music. Writing, shamanism and surrealism are intertwined and the collision and amalgamation of those, leads to something different, renewed and original.77 With respect to the many references that Hofstede makes to the music of these artists and their personalities, it almost seems as if he is connected to this music by an ‘umbilical cord’ through which he gains access to the transcendental inner soul in the search for a cosmic sense of existence as described by Joseph Beuys (1921-86).78

Dreaming with Open Eyes. The Shamanic Spirit in Twentieth Century Art and Culture. Aquarian/ Harper (San Francisco, 1992 p.216:



‘Poprise’ starring Ernst Ris: Kick-Starting the Millennium, suit, rainbow belt, mask, Californian king-snake, Denmark Street, London 1998. Photo: Phil Harris

Untitled Photo: Phil Harris


Pythonism, The Weight of Ceremony, ‘Poprise’, Denmark Street, London 1998


‘Poprise’, installation-shot, Festival aan de Werff, Utrecht 1998


The connection with Joseph Beuys


led to the assignment of Hofstede (1999) at the Free International University (FIU) in Amsterdam, founded by Beuys in 1977. FIU is based on the initial idea of a social sculpture as it was developed in 1972 by Joseph Beuys and was set up by one of Beuys’ Dutch pupils, Waldo Bien, in 1970 and after a period of rest, on the first of Jan. 1984 it was brought to new life, on the initiative of Joseph Beuys, during a public shaving of Bien by Beuys in a performance at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. See: 79 80 81

(June 2001, p 8)

PPP 12 (June 2001), p 8.

On Beuys: Exh. Cat. Tisdall,

Caroline ed, Joseph Beuys , Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, Thames and Hudson (New York 1979); De Domizio Durini, Lucrezia. The Felt Hat. Joseph Beuys, A Life Told. Edizioni Charta (Milano, 1997); Harlan, Volker. What is Art? Conversations with Joseph Beuys. Ed with essays by Volker Harlan. Clairview books. (Forest Row, 2004). 82

From January-April 2010 Marcus Coates had an exhibition called ‘Psychopomp’ in the MK Gallery in Milton Keynes.


On human/animalistic spirituality see: Derrida, Jacques. The Animal That

Therefore I Am. Ed by Marie-Louise Mallet. transl. David Wills. Fordham University Press (New York, 2006/2008). Also Dadaists and in particularly Huelsenbeck, were fascinated with what they called ‘Negro rythms’.


For Beuys, the real artist should create his own cosmos that connects the inner depths of the individual to the collective. The Beuysian connection between individuality, art, spirituality and nature, essential for the regeneration of culture, appears to be the cornerstone in Hofstede’s art. In many of his performances and works he alludes to Beuys’s ideas and actions, as well as in his writings, as for example: ‘A Frantic Chant’ in PPP 12 79: “ Explaining Funk to a dead Painter... New Beuys on the Block... Explaining Hares to a Dead Artist”.80 Hofstede amalgamates the Surrealist aspect of transgression of the rational into the irrational with that of the rational into the spiritual in a Beuysian way in connection with the actual historical political.81 It is in this particular aspect that it can be argued that Hofstede works with notions that are on the threshold of neo-surrealism and post-modernism. A contemporary artist that finds parallels with Hofstede’s work in the transgression of the human and animalistic reality in this sense, is Marcus Coates (b. 1968), who records personifications of himself as an animal while trying to communicate in this appearance with humans. Hofstede uses a similar method of incorporating himself in the work or act of art to convey a certain positioning between the two worlds, but rather in an inquisitive way of exploration, than as a final situation, as Coates does.82 Coates’ concept is to personify and ‘become’ the animal and to translate in the role of a medium between humans and the animal world and concentrate on that particular aspect of transgression in nature, while for Hofstede, similar moments and actions are a phase of a larger quest.83 There are certain aspects that connect the artists, however Hofstede’s work seems to be more complex and diversified and appears to be part of a larger process to achieve fulfilment of his ideas, the implementation of Paleo Psycho Pop. Analyzing where Hofstede’s ideas find their origin and why he came to the implementation of Paleo Psycho Pop, it becomes clear that Hofstede was subject to an artistic evolution in which he was influenced by a number of crucial notions and ideas. However, the nucleus of his thoughts remains related to Surrealist theory, not in reference to stylistic characteristics associated with Surrealism of the 1920’s but rather with the transcendental significance of surrealism as a ‘supra-realism’ that operates within and beyond the realm of the real, into the non- or meta-logical space of the unconscious and into the field of shamanism. How these ideas materialize into greater projects and how this relates to other contemporary theories and artists, will be the subject of the next chapter.

Turf w/Pearls, turf, pearl necklaces, MAD Tour, Dublin 1996




Beyond Restauration, canvas, bleach, glue, detergents, Amsterdam 2011 (Collectie Beau and Selly van Erven Dorens)


Detail P.I.G., Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam 1999




Specifically refering to

‘détournement’: the reuse of preexisting artistic elements in a new ensemble, see: Debord, Guy. Society of the Spectacle. Transl. by Ken Knabb. Aldgate Press (Paris 1967/London 2006). 85

Exh Cat., Hoekstra/Hofstede

P.I.G., Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst

In the series of exhibitions called Polynesian Instant Geography (further referred to as PIG - Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1999 and Musée Royale, Brussels, 2003) Hilarius Hofstede and Berend Hoekstra (1958) presented a psychogeographical vision of an imaginary subculture in counterpart of our overpoliticized capitalistic commodity culture within the existing urban environment of the resp. institutions.84 As has been noted by Rudi Fuchs who invited the artists in the first place to exhibit their work in the Stedelijk Museum in 1999, the PIG was regarded as a progressive project. The exhibition was characterized by an unusual notion of reinstallment of time and place whereby the far and distant were presented as actuality, conceiving a sense of alienation on one side and progressive inquisitiveness on the other provoked by the integration of primitive - often large scale - reminiscences of the Marquesas, and work created by Hofstede and Hoekstra.85 The contextual theory that substantiates the significance of these exhibitions can be explained through the study of several developments regarding contemporary art and ethnology in particular as proposed by the art theorist Hal Foster. The progression onto a next level of Paleo Psycho Pop after PIG, through the interference of the institutional order of presentation, can be seen in the more recent exhibition of Natural Born History (Narurhistorisk Museum, Aarhus, 2005), and leads to an interesting study into the taxonomical aspects of the more recent work of Hilarius Hofstede and the reciprocal relations between the earlier and later projects.

en Geschiedenis, Hallepoort, Brussels, Toohcsmi Uitgevers, (Gent 2003), p.18.


Crânes Trophés, detail P.I.G., Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam 1999



The Frog of War, ink on paper, 2003


Togo or the Arm of the Warrior, graphite powder, glue on paper, steel springs, ‘P.I.G.’, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam 1999 (Collection Hoekstra)


Elephant Police, Indian elephant skulls, flashing lights, ‘P.I.G.’, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam 1999 With Berend Hoekstra



My Spine is the Bassline, graphite powder on paper, (length 9 m), ‘P.I.G.’, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam 1999 (Collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam)


Untitled, ‘P.I.G.’, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam 1999




Bart Suys in: Exh Cat.,

Hoekstra/Hofstede P.I.G., Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst en Geschiedenis, Hallepoort, Brussels, Toohcsmi Uitgevers, (Gent 2003), p. 17. 87

Hofstede, Hilarius. Paleo Psycho Pop,

Writings 1995-­2008, Trashface Books, (Dublin, 2009), In the article ‘T+les’ pp. 106-­125.

Loaded with iconographical references to the Polynesian indigenous culture of warriors and cannibalism, PIG consisted of an accumulation of structures, objects, drawings, paintings and natural reminiscences of animals, like skulls and bones that aspire an atmosphere of savagery full of aggression and at the same time there was an undeniable sense of genuineness of material and intention. It was described as: “ a raft, a craft on board of which an entire community had gathered their goods and chattels to venture on a voyage across the sea in search of a new land. It appeared as though the creators of the exhibition had strained every nerve to bring together all that was of value in their culture in the hope that the Gods would follow too it was clear that PIG could not be a culmination, but that it was the beginning of an odyssey that would lead on to unknown destinations”. 86 Blue was the dominant colour in the exhibitions, the colour of water and the sea on that other side of the world, but also as the typical colour of the Marquesan tattoos, symbolic for human strength and spiritual power. Hofstede’s drawings on the walls are often oversized and relate to timeless animals like the whale, the jellyfish, the starfish, lizard or frog. Playful inscriptions refer to the significance of the works as for example in ‘Black Sea Funk’ and ‘Marquesan Porn Killer’ following an earlier wordplay with: ‘Beuys Pop Killer’87 .


The starshaped guitar of the black funk singer Bootsy Collins becomes an elongated starfish with a geometrical decoration reminiscent of the Marquesian tattoo patterns. The paper of Hofstede’s drawings is mostly damaged and partially reconstructed, showing some of the aggression implemented and consequently enclosed in the artwork, and symbolising the dialectic between destruction and reconstruction so important in the artists’ work. War clubs and references to their original shape reappear in many shapes and sizes, many inspired by the extraordinary collection of Polynesian objects in the possession of Berend Hoekstra. Hoekstra’s sculptures, papier maché elephant skulls, whales and octopusses wander through the space where water and land seem to be one. The apotropaic eyes on the Marquesan warclubs are echoed in those of Hoekstra’s paintings, while striking blue in vigorous abstract strokes denote the blue ink that was used in Marquesan tatouage. As in Hofstede’s drawings, accents of blue are visible in the magnificent figures and irregular patterns that connect the primitive but powerful culture of the Marquesans with that of Paleolythic cavepaintings in a form of contemporary art. The gazing eyes gain a dualistic meaning in the sun and moon, in baseballs that also symbolize masculinity, and in other similar forms in some of the sculptures and installations. Shamanic actions take place during the installation and are portrayed in photographs. Symbol of speed and

capitalism, Nikki Lauda reappears in a Polynesian version. PIG can be seen as an entirely equal dual project in which the two Dutch artists worked together and found eachother in both artistic understanding and their shared interest in the Polynesian culture. What is it that gives this art such a contemporary quality and distances it from dada and surrealist art? In his discourse on contemporary art and the theorizing on neo-avant-garde art at the end of the 20th Century, Hal Foster interestingly refers to the concept of the contemporary artist as ethnographer.88 He argues that in neo-avant-garde art:


Foster, Hal. The Return to the Real.

“ there is an implicit shift from a disciplinary criterion of quality, judged in relation to artistic standards of the past, to an avant-gardist value of interest provoked through a testing of cultural limits in the present. Only with the ethnographic turn in contemporary art and theory is the turn from medium-specific elaborations to debate-specific projects pronounced.” 89

The Avant-­Garde at the End of the Century. October, MIT Press (London 1996) pp 171-­204. 89

Ibid p. XI.


Ibid p.171.


Ibid p.171.


Ibid. p. 172.


Ibid p.184.

In this context Polynesian Instant Geography can be interpreted. The individual objects are not merely art objects but rather part of a larger cultural ethnological history that comments on the past and the future, to the far and to the near, to the natural and the cultural, to the rational and the spiritual, materializing the ‘debate-specific

projects’ as described by Foster. In continuation of Walter Benjamin’s ‘The Author as Producer’ (1934), Foster argues that a new paradigm which is structurally similar to that of the ‘Producer’ as proposed by Benjamin, has emerged in advanced art: the model of ‘the artist as ethnographer’.90 Benjamin urged: “ the “advanced” artist to intervene, like a revolutionary worker, in the means of artistic productionto change the “technique” of traditional media, to transform the apparatus of bourgeois culture”. 91 And Foster adds: “ I want to suggest that a new paradigm structurally similar to the old “Author as Producer” model has emerged in advanced art on the left: the artist as ethnographer.” 92 Within this development -that of the ‘artist as ethnographer’- Hal Foster mentions a shift from a subject defined in terms of economic relation to one defined in terms of cultural identity. He argues that the ethnographic turn is a logical consequence in the history of the breakdown of restricted definitions of art and artist, identity and community, pressured by social movements (such as civil rights, feminism, multiculturalism) and theoretical developments (among others: feminism, psychoanalysis, and the development of the postcolonial discourse).93




Crystal Frog Spearhead, ink on reconstructed paper, glue, 1998 RIGHT

Esso Tit Turttle, collage, ink on reconstructed paper, glue, 1998 Explaining Funk to a Dead Hare, ink on reconstructed paper, glue, vinyl single, 1998 (Collection Schulte NL) The Bison Dreaming (All at Sea in Clear Blue Water), collage, ink on reconstructed paper, glue, 1998


Animating Pop-Life, and Then Something Completely Different, The Destruction Of It Performance, Joelle Tuerlinx House, Brussels 1995


Untitled, ink on reconstructed paper, glue, vinyl single, 1998


94 95

Ibid p.172.

On Situationist international: Debord, Guy. Society of the

Spectacle. Transl. by Ken Knabb. Aldgate Press (Paris, 1967/London, 2006) and also McDonough Tom ed., The Situationists and the City. Verso (London, New York, 2009), p.14. 96 97


Foster (1996) p. 173.

In collection of Tate Modern.

Within such a perspective the integration in PIG of historical influences of dadaism, surrealism, situationalism and Beuys with contemporary geographical crosscultural identities of the capitalistic West and those of the primitivist Polynesian culture, and the implementation of the contemporary idea of the regeneration of the ‘aura’-less consumer society orientated art at the end of the 20th Century, should be understood in the line of reasoning of the ethnographical neo-avant-garde realm as proposed by Hal Foster. Foster explains that the strategies of this intervention in the ethnographic paradigm are more situanionist than productivist, and more concerned with “reinscriptions of given representations” instead of productivist in their renewed presentation of ideas.94 Returning to the work of Hofstede and Hoekstra in the exhibition of PIG, the reinscription in the aforementioned sense with regard to the Situationist International (SI) becomes quite clear and is most obviously ironically played with in the remapping of the districts of the city of Bruxelles in a projection of the Polynesian archipelago and is further deepened in the complete concept of the exhibitions. The essence of the SI, the attempt to transform art and politics and to devise a cultural paradigm able to critique consumer capitalism through the projection and reorganisation of existing parameters,

is what Hofstede and Hoekstra are also doing in the project of PIG.95 The shuffling of signifiers deriving from the Oceanic primitive culture with those relating to specifically chosen icons of Western modernist culture (like those of Beuys, Warhol, Hirst) in the discursive entity of the psychic instant geographical situation of the institutional environment of the resp. museums, continue to reflect Hal Foster’s debate on the aforementioned shift of interest in avant-garde art: “ Second is the assumption that this site is always elsewhere, in the field of the other- in the producer model, with the social other, the exploited proletariat; in the ethnographer paradigm, with the cultural order, the oppressed postcolonial, subaltern, or subcultural- and that this elsewhere, this outside, is the Archimedean point from which the dominant culture will be transformed or at least subverted.” 96 The subversion of the Polynesian elements is primarily recognisable in the colouring, the graphical qualities and iconography of Hofstede’s drawings. Moreover the primitive warclubs evidently link the ‘paleo’ theme to that of the Polynesian culture. The deteriorated canoes, so important to the indigenous warriors, are clearly an eyewink to the sledges in ‘The Pack’ from Beuys.97


Coverly, Merlin, Psychogeography, (2006), pp.41-­‐42.


Exh. Cat. ‘Primitivism’ in the 20th

Century Art: Affinity of the Tribal and the Modern ed. Rubin. MOMA, (New York 1984). 101

Foster, Hal, ‘The ‘Primitive’

Unconscious of Modern Art’, October, Vol.34 (Fall, 1985), pp. 45-­‐70. 102

p.205 in publ.

of the article in:

The papier-maché creatures, mainly from the sea, and the other sculptures made out of rough, raw materials seem to defy time and place. Texts from cut up and pasted words on smaller and larger wooden beams integrate connections to 20th Century artists (Louise Bourgeois, Damien Hirst), philosphers, films and their makers (Fellini) and other iconic persons (Nikki Lauda) and moments in western cultural history (Millenium, Marinus van de Lubbe). Characteristic for both versions of the exhibitions was the sense of wandering, as if the exhibition was a voyage, moving from one undestined place to another, turning the outside world to the inside, blending time and place into the imaginative ‘world’ of PIG. Even the visitor would experience a sense of ‘stray’ that reminds once more of the Baudelairian flaneur.98 The free flowing organization of the objects is presented as a structure within a structure, reinforced by scaffoldings installed throughout the exhibition rooms. There is a sensation of alienation that distances the viewer from the day-to-day societal pace of life and seduces to give in to the overwhelming effects of primal elements and energies in the voyage of PIG and convey the notion of contemporary psychogeography.

ed. Frascina, Francis, Art In Modern Culture: An Anthology of Critical Texts, Phaidon Press Ltd. (London, 1992).

“ Here then, we find all the features ascribed to psychogeography today: the mental traveler who remakes the city in accordance with his own

imagination is allied to the urban wanderer who drifts through the city streets, the political radicalism that seeks to overthrow the established order of the day (...) the use of antiquarian and occult symbolism reflects the precedence given to the subjective and the anti-rational over more systematic modes of thought”99 At the time, Hofstede and Hoekstra must have been aware of the renewed art historical interest in primitivism understated in the first place by the exhibition ‘Primitivism’ in the 20th Century Art: Affinity of the Tribal and the Modern’ in the MOMA in New York 1984.100 Whereas that exhibition was primarily about the morphological aspects of primitive art and failed to acknowledge the extrapolarisations from one cultural context to the other: to question what is at stake ideologically when the ‘magical’ character of tribal work is read into modern art101, the PIG can arthistorically be seen as a dialectic commentary on Hal Foster’s suggestion: “How better, in the unconscious of the museum, to ‘resolve’ these contradictions than with a show suggestive on the one hand of a transgressive modernism and on the other of a still active primitivism? (...) This manoeuvre also allows it at once to contain the return of its repressed and to connect with a neo-primitivist moment in contemporary art (...) ”102



Hofstede in interview see

appendix IV: “In 1987 in the Centre du Pompidou there was an exhibition called Les Magiciens de la Terre, the real stuff if you know what I mean, I was electrified. Not trying to attain the status of magical work, to myth­loaden works, be them! become them!” 104

Rosalind Krauss, ‘L’Inform

without Conclusion’ in: Theory in Contemporary Art since 1985, ed. Zoya Kocur and Simon Lueng, Blackwell Publishing, (Oxford, 2005) p. 395. 105 106

Ibid. p. 406.

Daniel Birnbaum, ‘We are Many’ in: Making Worlds, La Biennale di Venezia. 53. Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte. Marsilio

Editori (Venezia, 2009), pp.187/188. Although he is not very specific about the definition of the theme of the Biennale he openly comments: “The significance of a work of art is not static, but the result of ongoing rereadings and misreadings, and the meaning of a work of art is something that is produced retroactively through new works of art.” He praises subversiveness in art and the function it has as vehicles for not only sensual experience but also for critical thinking.


And surely the Exhibition in Centre Pompidou in 1987 of ‘Les Magiciens de la Terre’ had impressed Hofstede.103 Subsequently, the interest in ‘l’Inform’ as shown in the exhibition ‘Formless: A User’s Guide’ curated by Rosalind Krauss in Centre Pompidou (1996) should also be regarded as a contextual arthistorical point of reference. At the time Krauss explained: “ (...) The reason for the currency of present-day interest in the concept of the informe is to be found in the insistent spread of abjection as an expressive mode.” 104 The combination of the informe with the notion of abjection linked with the ideas of George Bataille should be noted in connection with PIG, principally regarding Bataille’s comments on ‘déclassement’, in the separations between time and space; in the systems of spatial mapping; in the qualifications of matter and in the structural order of systems.105 In a more contemporary context, it can be suggested that the idea of the creation of this imaginative psychogeographical journey antagonizes the theme of ‘Making Worlds/ Fare Mondi’ - the title of the Biennale de Venezia in 2010. The curator of that Biennale, Daniel Birnbaum, refers in the catalogue to the inspiration of the theme of the exhibition to Harald Szeeman, with regard to “his shamanistic idea of the artist as bearer of a personal mythology”.106 Jochen Volz, another essayist in the catalogue of ‘Making Worlds/ Fare Mondi’ notices that the concept of the model ‘buttresses’ many forms of artistic productivity

currently at play.107 Volz’s scope of reference, interestingly reflects quite closely that which was earlier discussed as the PIG’s inspirational background: “ In artistic practice, the model has, through Dadaism, Surrealism, Fluxus and the Situationist International, slowly become a dominant strategy. What art history and theory describe as détournement, signifies the complex practice of dismantling of existing aesthetic structures and reassembling them in an altered and subverted way in order to question or ctitique society, traditional values, and status quo.” 108 In reference to Volz’s essay the ‘model’ of PIG would have fit well within the described parameters of contemporary artistic practice in relation to the Biennale di Venezia in 2010. Many of the works in ‘Making Worlds/ Fare Mondi’ had similar time/space related aspects of crosscultural influence in them, and there was a strong interest in more primitive cultures. The work from Pascale Marthine Tayou (b. 1967) that criticizes enduring colonial structures, for example, comes quite close to the work of Hofstede. Similarly he establishes connections between forms and histories supposedly belonging to radically different cultures, places or worlds, evoking the possibility of two cultural components committing to unite as a heretofore politically unimaginable entity.109


Jochen Volz, ‘In the Making’ in: Making Worlds, La Biennale di Venezia. 53e Esposizione Internazionale

d’Arte. Marsilio Editori (Venezia, 2009), pp. 201-­202. He argues that the idea of the model, the abstract representation of the modeler’s viewpoint helps to simulate reality and in doing so, to question and understand that reality.



Ibid, p. 202.


Ibid. p. 152.

Ibid. p. 4. A.M. Warburg entitled

a series of pictures “Mnemosyne”

Georges Adeagbo (b. 1942) is another artist that has affinities with a parallel subject, that of analogies and connections between signs and objects that are supposed to belong to separate worlds and occupy different positions in the hierarchy of things. The site-specific installations consisting of found and newly made objects, seem often quite random and difficult to define in reminiscence. They serve as elements and icons for the reconstruction of a sort of cult rooms or shrines devoted to the memories of specific figures, histories or causes quite similar to Hofstede’s ‘altars’. On the other hand, they are signifying elements, the juxtapositions of which form an idiosyncratic version of an Altas Mnemosyne.110 Considering the work of these two artists which took prominent places in the exhibition, it can be argued that the work of Hoekstra and Hofstede, PaleoPsychoPop and the PIG could have been an interesting addition to ‘Making Worlds/ Fare Mondi’, had it been more heard of.

(1924-­1928): The atlas is fundamentally the attempt to combine the philosophical with the image-­historical approach.


Mounting The Stairs (Film), bones, 2007


Mounting The Stage (Rock), bones, 2007




Established Danish outsider artist who spent most of his life in a psychiatrist hospital. Throughout his whole life

as a patient, Ovartaci was extremely productive as an artist and found admirers such as Asger Jorn and Jean Dubuffet. 112

See also Foster on Lacan and Pop in the essay ‘The Return of the Real’ in: Foster, Hal. The Return to the Real. The Avant-Garde at the End of the Century. October MIT Press (London 1996), p 132.


Through the interference with the static, the by nature imposed organization of the collection of mainly taxidermic and natural objects in the exhibition of Natural Born History (2005), Hofstede transforms the museum of Natural History of Aarhus into a oscillated experience of taxonomy where culture and nature are intertwined and juxtaposed. He transfigures the natural history exhibition into a work of art, the materializing of a ‘marriage between culture and nature’. As a contemporary reinforcement of a 16th Century Kunst und Wunderkammer Hofstede reorganizes the collection of the museum and introduces iconic objects, artefacts and images and portraits from modern cultural history as pop-ups, like Joseph Beuys, Andy Warhol, Piero Manzoni, Ovartaci, Damien Hirst, Federico Fellini, Jimi Hendrix, Disney, Barbie, Elvis, John Lennon, Lady Di and readymades like radio’s, blenders and foodcans . By interfering in the existing collection of natural history, he physically makes an attempt to animate what is static, amalgamating popular culture icons of nature: The (blue) silkscreen portrait of Jimmy Hendrix throning over the life size taxidermic buffalo; Popstars becoming one with animals; Barbies staggering on a ridge of a puffin rock; a beautifully tranquil buddha statue contemplating in the tranquility of a landscape of snow with simmering in the background a multiple-series of Omo packages (in blue);

Starfish between a collection of fusion-cuisine sauces; a portrait of the innocent looking Lady Di placed between a delicately organized display of butterflies; the alien looking, stylized portrait of a dolllike figure characteristic for the work of the Danish artist Ovartaci (1894-1985) keeps ‘popping’ up, serving as simulacrum to remind the spectator of the fine line between the rational and the irrational and questioning the threshold of thus111. On the other hand, the repetition - as used in many pop art works could be read as a Lacanian remedy to trauma, which particularly in the correlation Hofstede-Ovartaci, could be interesting112. Most significant however, is the figure of Joseph Beuys that keeps on reappearing in several of his well-known portraits and captures, while in this multiplicity he becomes a pop-icon himself. As a reassuring father figure he seems to oversee the exhibition from many corners in a way that also the viewer becomes patronized and recognizes not only the historical meaning of Beuys but also experiences the spiritual power that he had on many. In this exhibition there is an implementation of ideas that go back to the very origin of Paleo Psycho Pop, those of the problematic and the questioning of the relation between art and nature, and specifically those regarding the critique on how contemporary image making and consumerism is commanded by the overall human control depriving art from its ‘soul’.

The Hare Birthday Party (detail), installation, posters, anatomic figures, motorhelmets, hares, swan-skull, pram-umbrellas, Natural Born History, Natural History Museum Aarhus, Denmark 2005



Mental Honey/Animating Da Geez and Beez, poster, geese, Natural Born History, Natural History Museum Aarhus, Denmark 2005


For a rather complete survey on Dion see: Exh Cat., Mark Dion.

The Natural History of the Museum. Carré d’Art Musée d’Art Contemporaine, Nimes, Archibooks (Paris, 2007). 114

Exh. Cat. POPGUN,

The National Museum of Military History, Aarhus. (Aarhus, 2007). 115

Cit. from a letter from H. hofstede commenting on the exhibition Natural Born History, 2005 Aarhus Denmark: Exh. Cat., Natural Born History, Hilarius Hofstede, Naturhistorisk Museum

Aarhus, (Aarhus, Denmark, 2005), p. 78.

The theme and the appearance of Hofstede’s Natural Born History exhibition has in several aspects close affinities with the work of Mark Dion (b. 1961) who also situated many of his exhibitions in the environment of a Museum of Natural History and is fascinated with the taxidermic animal world and human systematization. Some of the works of the artists are very similar. However, at closer study, it becomes clear that whereas Dion is concerned with Natural History in the relation between animals, humans, environments, archeology and classification, Hofstede’s perspective is rather cultural philosophical orientated and although using a similar idiom, Hofstede is concerned with quite different subjects.113 Hofstede’s work is not only about the clashing of pop and nature but rather about the incorporation of the natural, superimposed by signifiers of Pop Art that, as an entity, comments on the ideas of Paleo Psycho Pop. There is a common interest in systems of classification between the artists and in particular that of the role of the museum as institution. As Dion is rather critical on existing classification, Hofstede is concerned with the dynamics of a collection and uses this to reinvigorate his own vision about the necessity of the regeneration of popular art. In the following up of Natural Born Histsory in the exhibition POPGUN (2007) in the National Museum of Military History in Aarhus, Hofstede takes the concept to a next level. By the interference in the collection, in this case that of weapons and armory, the

use of pictures has been replaced by the names of 250 persons who have been involved in shooting episodes. The texts are often appropriated from the media and function in their relative authoritiveness as readymades.114 To conclude, the answer to the quest of where to find the renewed energy in art, the search for ‘aura’ that Hofstede in his quest of Paleo Psycho Pop had sought, seems to come near to a moment of solution in particular in the exhibition of Natural Born History. By using the model of pop-art - the repetition of iconic signs that refer to consumerism - in an alternative way, substituting the content of the images according to a broader associative scope relating to globalization and multiculturalism, and by collocating this in the context of the by Beuys so highly esteemed transgressive values of the natural world and those of animals, there seems to be another “cataclysm of souls”, that of pop and nature. The quintessential contrasting notions of consumerism vs nature, and that of culture vs nature are reunited to form a new visional language presenting popular art, that of Paleo Psycho Pop. This clash is taking place within the work of art as positioned in the showcases on the one hand, and on the other hand on a secondary level on the outside of those, where the vitrines could be compared to window shops or even to still lifes.


The Name is Pop, cut-out, stuffed ram, Natural Born History, Natural History Museum Aarhus, Denmark 2005


Inside Nabokov’s Butterfly Net, photo, butterflies on display, NBH, Natural History Museum Aarhus, Denmark 2005 LEFT BOTTOM: Untitled, installation, taxidermic, hawks, blenders, NBH, Natural History Museum Aarhus, Denmark 2005 RIGHT BOTTOM: Occhi Malefici, installation, anatomical figures, skull, NBH, Natural History Museum Aarhus, Denmark 2005


The Deer and Drum Variations, installation, taxidermic elks, drums, NBH, Natural History Museum Aarhus, Denmark 2005


Buffalo Scan Division, installation, buffalo-skull, medical equipment, NBH, Natural History Museum Aarhus, Denmark 2005


Sleep well my Inuits, objects from Greenland, NBH, Natural History Museum Aarhus, Denmark 2005


The Electroshocking of the Birds of Paradise, NBH, Natural History Museum Aarhus, Denmark 2005


Polar Pop Invasion (detail), installation taxidermic icebear, walrus skull, Siberian ski’s, whalebone, wall of records, (490 x 310 cm), NBH, Natural History Museum Aarhus, Denmark 2005



Benjamin, Walter.

The Arcades Project. Translated by Howard Eiland and Kevin Mc Laughlin. Prepared on the basis of the German volume edited by Rolf Tiedeman (1982). The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (Cambridge Massachusetts, 1999). The Arcades Project was Benjamin’s major project, it started in 1927 and was not finished when he died in 1940. Benjamin interestingly also described the arcades as ‘man-made caves and urbanlabyrinths’ and suggested: “The father of Surrealism is Dada;

In his planning of the show Hofstede indicated his intention revealing his allusion to Walter Benjamin: “ The second floor is in fact a double Parisian passage. You walk between high walls of glass on both sides, it’s a dreamscape, the perfect setting for the ur-landscape of consumption. I take you through it in a slightly upbeat oneiric fashion.” 115

its mother was an arcade.” p. 82. 117

Baudelaire, Charles.

The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays. Translated by Jonathan Mayne. Phaidon (London, 1995) p. 9: “For the perfect flaneur, for the passionate spectator, it is an immense joy to set-up house in the heart of the multitude, amid the ebb and flow of movement, in the midst of the fugitive and the infinite.” 118

Benjamin, Walter.

Edited by Michael W. Jennings, Bridged Doherty and Thomas Y. Levin. The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility, and Other Writings on Media. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (Cambridge Massachusetts; London, England, 2008). 119

See also Foster in: ‘The Return of

the Real’ in: Foster, Hal. The Return to the Real. The Avant-Garde at the End of the Century. October, MIT Press (London 1996), p.134. 120

See essay by P. Healy in: Exh. Cat.,

The typical space of the museum with its long high-lit halls and common use of iron as buildingmaterial, was already compared by Benjamin to the Parisian Arcades that fascinated him so much. 116 Strolling through the museum with its atmosphere of leisure, there is again a fascination for the correlation to the emblematic figure of the flaneur.117 The Early 20th Century arcades with all their diversity of boutiques, galleries and shops, is the first sign of modernity and consumerism that already exemplified the impact on the unconscious mind of the repetitiveness of images as later described by Benjamin in his discourse ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility’ in the 1930’s.118 Warhol updates it thirty years later, in response to the postwar society of the spectacle, of mass media and commodity signs. 119 Similarly, Natural Born History continues on the theme in a new perspective using pop to comment on pop:

HH:“aim is to create a vivid delirium of place in which what cannot take place occurs, and (...) visual arrays throughout the museum that takes one through an hallucinated world of assemblages and installations, which has then at its aim the literal reanimation of dead things”. 120 Here we see the culmination of PaleoPsychoPop in the re-animation of what has died, the natural, the aura, the real, echoing the rebirth of the sun after the deluge as described in the ‘Markies van Water’. The formal play of time and space of cross-cultural and psychogeographical influence in PIG has evaluated to a conceptual play of such in Natural Born History and POPGUN. Modernity, culture and nature are questioned through critical juxtaposing of ideas of various 20th century philosophical and iconic thinkers leading up to a multilayered, culturally and artistically engaged, skeptical proposition towards the spectator.

Natural Born History, Hilarius Hofstede, Naturhistorisk Museum Aarhus, (Aarhus, Denmark, 2005), p.60.



POP GUN, (details) Royal Armory Museum Kopenhagen Denmark 2007




Whereas this research started with the question: ‘Mythology, Surrealism and Taxonomy: How can the art of Hilarius Hofstede be analyzed and contextualized according to these notions?’, at the end of the survey it can be stated that relative clarity among these ideas has been perceived. Because of the complex, multilayered and multi-psycho-dimensional approach of the artist towards the expression of his ideas on the regeneration of culture and nature, the work demanded to be interpreted in an a-centered way and as initially proposed, the model of the rhizome proved to be not only the most accessible way to fathom the differentials in the work of Hofstede but it also reflects certain aspects of the working process of the artist. Rooted in profound knowledge, the expression of Paleo Psycho Pop is multi-connective and explosive in essence and therefore reflects the associative model of the rhizomatic structure of thinking as described in ‘A Thousand Plateaus’ (1980)121. The analyses of Paleo Psycho Pop is represented in the visualisation of this model in appendix III ‘Rhizomatics=Popanalysis’. Once the observer has penetrated into the world of Paleo Psycho Pop, it becomes clear that the artist has challenged himself to explore the problematics of the loss of ‘life’ in art, that of the in our consumer related era much discussed ‘aura’ in art, and explores the resolution of that in an evolutionary and holistic way. Hofstede evidences of a high intellectual standard that reaches over to the perimeters of history, geography, nature, philosophy, culture and that of the mental mind. Although complex, after a closer study, it can be stated that his work epitomizes many characteristics of neo-avant-garde art as analyzed according to the writings of contemporary leading theorists such as Roland Barthes, Walter Benjamin, André Breton, Nicolas Bourriaud, Hal Foster and Rosalind Kraus. Within retrospect the work of Hofstede can be seen as highly progressive. When he started in 1985 with the ‘De Markies van Water’ (19851995), he consolidated his ideas in writing and created in the distinctly original way of his own language, a myth that was the founding and establishing of Paleo Psycho Pop. In threefold levels of content, form and


Deleuze, Gilles and Félix Guattari.

A Thousand Plateaus, Capitalism and Schizofrenia. Tranlated by Brian Massumi. Continuum (Paris, 1980; Minnesota, 1987). 122

Barthes Roland, Mythologies.

(Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1957), Translated by Jonathan Cape, Vintage (London, 2009). 2012, ‘Polynesian Instant Geography III’ in MUSÉE DE LA CHASSE in Paris. 123

In 2010 the artist has created

three series of drawings that await a decision of where to be exhibited. Furthermore there are two exhibtions planned: September 2011 in Arti & Amictiae ‘Remain in the Light – Islands of the Soul’ in Amsterdam and September 2012, ‘Polynesian Instant Geography III’ in Musée de la Chasse in Paris.

significance, it can be interpreted as myth and set in the context of the discourse of Roland Barthes’ essay ‘Mythologies’.122 From thereon the artist wanders multiple paths to give physical and visual expression in his urge to fight the emptiness of established pop art and reinstall the ‘magic’ that has been lost. As an autodidact, Hofstede creates a personal arthistorical frame of reference in which he reflects consciously or unconsciously on many iconic or leading ideas of modern history such as Dada, Surrealism, Situationism, Benjamin, Beuys and Warhol and uses them as a source of inspiration to come to his personal idea of renewal in Paleo Psycho Pop. Of the many public exhibitions that followed the publishing of De Markies van Water, the series of ‘Polynesian Instant Geography’ realised together with Berend Hoekstra in 1999 (Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum) and 2001 (Brussels, Museum De Hallenpoort) was the most complete materialisation of the supremacy of nature over culture, presented in the creation of an imaginary culture exploring the Sitiationist ideas of Guy Debord and psycho-geography. This phase in the work of Hofstede could be characterized as the period of identification in which the artist made the ‘otherworld’ part of his own and can be explained in the line of thinking of Hal Foster’s proposal on the neo-avantgarde artist as ‘ethnographer’. The next phase in Hofstede’s art can be defined as a more aggressive period in which

the confrontation between pop and nature, the ‘clash’ that is sought after in the quest for the regeneration in art, is taking place in the exhibitions Natural Born History (Aarhus, 2005) and PopGun (Aarhus, 2007). Here the factors of Paleo Psycho Pop seem to create a caleidoscopic view of culture and nature in which the extremes of the static of the institution, as exemplified by a collection of natural history in particular, is juxtaposed and unified with invigorated references of modernist culture. Through the interference in the collection, the artist acts as ‘the magician’ who brings opposites together - commodity and nature, Warhol and Beuys - and creates a new palette which confrontates both the viewer and the institution with the questioning of the discrepancy between the oscillation of culture and the statics of nature in the environment of the museum as an institution. The proposed ‘marriage between pop and nature’ has taken place in Natural Born History and the matured concept of Paleo Psycho Pop is implemented in Pop Gun. It can be concluded that Hofstede’s work would have fitted well within the frame of the Biennale di Venezia in 2010 and that there is an interesting analogy with other established contemporary artists such as Mark Dion and Jimmy Durham specifically alongside the growing interest in natural history, surrealism and ethnology in contemporary art in general. What is yet to come has to be awaited but surely this is not the end of Paleo Psycho Pop.123 147


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Merewether, C. The Archive (Documents of Contemporary Art Series), Whitechapel (London, 2006) Prinzhorn, Hans. Bildernei der Geisteskranken. Ein beitrag zur Psychologie und Psychopathologie der Gestaltung. Springer (Berlin 1922) translated by E. von Brockdorf as: Artistry of the Mentally Ill, Springer (Berlin, 1972) Putnam, James. Art and Artfact: Museums as Medium. (London, 2002) Renfrew, Colin. Figuring it Out, Thames and Hudson (London, 2003) Richter, Hans. DADA, Art and Anti-Art. Thames & Hudson (London, 1965) Riemschneider, Burckhardt and Uta Grosenick eds., Art at the Turn of the Millenium, Taschen (Cologne, 1999) Rhodes, Colin. Outsider Art. Spontaneous Alternatives. Thames & Hudson Ltd (London, 2000) Rothenberg, Jerome & Pierre Jones ed. & transl. Kurt Schwitters: Poems Performance Pieces Proses Plays Poetics. Temple University Press (Philadelphia, 1993) Scarry, Elaine. The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World, Oxford University Press (New York, 1985) Schippers, K. Holland Dada, Querido (Amsterdam, 1974) Sinclair, Ian. Lights out for the Territory, Granta (London, 1997) Stiles, Kristine & Selz, Peter ed. Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art. A sourcebook of artists writings. University of California Press (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1996) Storrie, Collum. The Delirious Museum. A Journey from the Louvre to Las Vegas. I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd (London and New York, 2006) Tucker, Michael. Dreaming with Open Eyes. The Shamanic Spirit in Twentieth Century Art and Culture. Aquarian/Harper (San Francisco, 1992) Verdier, Aurélie. L’ABCdaire de Dada, Flammarion (Paris, 2005) Weber, Samuel. Benjamin’s-abilities. Harvard University Press. (Cambridge Massachusetts; London, 2008) Wilson,C. Rudolf Steiner:The Man and His Vision. The Aquarian Press (Wellingborough, 1986)



Beechey, James. ‘Surrealism Returns’, Burlington Magazine’, vol 151, no. 1270, (Jan, 2009), pp. 47-50 Blazwick, Iwong. ‘Psychic Places’, Art Monthly, (July/August, 2001) pp. 30-33 Carrier, David. ‘Jimmy Durham’, Art Forum, (Nov, 1995) Dubois, Christine. ‘L’oeuvre –collection de la taxonomie du visible a l’utopie’, Parachute, (Canada), no. 54, (March-June, 1989), pp. 46-51 Demorand, Nicolas. ‘L’exotisme n’a pas de couleurs’, Beaux Arts Magazine, (France) no. 194, (July, 2000), pp. 84-93 Effie, Komninou. ‘Contemporary Art and Anthropology’, Third Text, vol 20, no. 5, (Sept, 2006), pp. 620-624 Foster, Hal. ‘Blinded Insights: On the Modernist Reception of the Art of the Mentally Ill’. October, Vol. 97, (Summer, 2001), pp. 3-30 Foster, Hal. ‘Dada Mime’. October, Vol. 105 (Summer, 2003), pp. 166-176 Foster, Hal. ‘The ‘Primitive’ Unconscious of Modern Art’, October, Vol.34 (Fall, 1985), pp. 45-70 Foster, Hal. ‘What is Neo about Neo-Avant-Garde?’ October, Vol. 70 (Autumn, 1994), pp. 5-32 Hofstede, Hilarius. ‘M.A.D. 96’, PPP1 (Dublin, 1996) Lippard, Lucy. ‘Jimmy Durham: Postmodernist ‘savage’- Native American artist’, Art in America, (February, 1993) Kohler, Michael. ‘Wunderkammer des Widersinnigen’ [Wunderkammer of the Absurd], Art: das Kunstmagazin, no. 7 (July, 2008) pp. 98 Koningsveld, Gijs van. ‘The Whansyntax of Pop’. PPP no. 28 (Dublin, 2004) Townsend, Chris. ‘Knowledge as Spectacle’, Art Monthly, no. 322, (Dec 2008-Jan 2009), pp. 11-14 Usherwood, Paul. ‘Lothar Baumgarten’, Art Monthly no. 176 (May, 1994), pp. 25-26


EXHIBITION CATALOGUES Exh. Cat., Beyond Reason: Art and Psychosis, Works from the Prinzhorn Collection. Hayward Gallery, (London 1996)

Exh. Cat., Making Worlds, La Biennale di Venezia. 53. Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte. Marsilio Editori (Venezia, 2009) Exh Cat., Mark Dion. The Natural History of the Museum. Carré d’Art Musée d’Art Contemporaine, Nimes, Archibooks (Paris, 2007)

Exh. Cat., Ecologies, David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, (Chicago 2001)

Exh. Cat., Mythologies, Haunch of Venison, (London, 2009)

Exh. Cat., Intensely Dutch. Art Gallery New South Wales. (Sydney, 2009)

Exh. Cat., Natural Born History, Hilarius Hofstede, Naturhistorisk Museum Aarhus, (Aarhus, 2005)

Exh. Cat., Joseph Beuys. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, Thames and Hudson (New York 1979)

Exh. Cat., Politics, Poetics: Documenta X, The Book , Museum Fredericianum, (Kassel, 1997)

Exh Cat., Hoekstra/Hofstede P.I.G., Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst en Geschiedenis, Hallepoort, Brussels, Toohcsmi Uitgevers, (Gent 2003)

Exh. Cat. POPGUN. The National Museum of Military History. (Aarhus, 2007)

Exh. Cat., Hoekstra/ Hofstede P.I.G., Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art, (Amsterdam 1999) Exh. Cat., Kurt Schwitters. Catalogue raisonné. Hatje Cantz Verlag (Berlin, 2005) Exh. Cat., Mark Dion, The Natural History of the Museum, Carré d’Art Musée d’Art Contemporain-Nimes, Archibooks (Paris, 2007)

Exh. Cat., ‘Primitivism’ in the 20th Century Art: Affinity of the Tribal and the Modern MOMA, (New York, 1984) Exh. Cat., Subversive Places. Surrealism + Contemporary Art, The Withworth Gallery, Manchester University, (Manchester, 2009) Exh. Cat., Tate Triennial, Tate Publishing (London, 2009)



D.H.C. Hofstede Hilarius Hofstede Born in Hilversum (nl) in 1965. Studied at Film Academy ‘Ecole Superieure de Cineastes’ in Paris in 1985, thereafter lived and worked in Paris, Dublin, Florence, London, Aarhus and Amsterdam. C. E. Maljers - van Erven Dorens Chantal van Erven Dorens was born in Amsterdam1966. Studied History of Art at UVA, Amsterdam (Propaedeuse 1988) and graduated ma in History of Art at rul,( Leiden 1993). Lived in Amsterdam, Florence, Germany, Trinidad & Tobago, Rio de Janeiro and currently in London. Wrote several articles and was practising sculptor in Brasil. Graduated in 2010 ma Contemporary Art (maca) Sotheby’s Institute of Art London/Manchester University





1995 PALEO PSYCHO POP Van Reekum Museum, Apeldoorn, Nl.

1998 POPRISE/FUNK SHUI Festival a/d Werf, Utrecht, Nl.

1996 M.A.D. TOUR Moskou, Amsterdam, Dublin, Final: Thomas Street Warehouse, Dublin, Ir.

1998 THE LIARS Group exhibition, Arti et Amicitiae, Amsterdam, Nl.

1996 ARNOAH 66 Biblioteca Nazionale, Firenze, It.

1999 POPRISE Temple bar Gallery, Dublin, Ir.

1996 FIAT FLUX Galeria Artieri, Florence, It.

1999 THE LIGHTFACTORY Curator, Watertoren Vlissingen, Nl.

1996 WORDWALL 3 Galerie Onrust, Amsterdam, Nl.

1999 PIG together with Berend Hoekstra, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Nl.

1997 SOME DUTCH ARTISTS Group exhibition Aarhus, Dk.

1999 PIG together with Berend Hoekstra, Artis Zoo, Amsterdam, Nl.

1997 SUN MOON ARSE De Beyerd, Breda, Nl.

2000 PIG Group exhibition Biennale, Louvain-la-Neuve, B.

1998 8 Jonge Kunstenaars, Group exhibition, Galerie Nouvelle Images., Den Haag, Nl.

2000 FIUWAC Triodos Bank, Zeist, Nl.

1998 TIKI Joanna Booth, London, UK


2001 THE STATE OF DK- STREET Schloss Johannisburg, Gelsenheim, D.

2005 THE WARCLUB SERIES Galerie Isy Brachot, Bruxelles, B.

2001 FIUWAC Triodos bank, Bruxelles, B.

2005 SPOPT together with Gillion Grantsaan, Kopenhagen, DK.

2002 PIG Galerie Isy et Christine Brachot, ART BRUXELLES, Group exhibition, Bruxelles, B.

2006 BISON CARAVAN Bamako, Mali, Africa.

2003 BISON CARAVAN Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Arhus, DK.

2007 NAMIBIA Schloss Johannisberg, Geisenheim, DK.

2003 PIG, together with Berend Hoekstra, Royal Museum of Art and History, De Hallenpoort, Bruxelles, B.


2003 BISON CARAVAN Friche de la Belle de Mai, Marseille, F. 2004 BISON CARAVAN Watertoren AK, Vlissingen, Nl. 2004 Galery Isy Brachot Group exhibition, Bruxelles, B. 2004 GAU, Groupexhibition, Utrecht, Nl. 2005 NATURAL BORN HISTORY Aarhus Naturhistorisk Museum, Aarhus, DK.

2007 POP GUN Tojhusmuseet, Kopenhagen, DK. 2008 THE ALBUM COVER Holstebro Kunstuseum, DK. 2009 VERBALE PUPILLER Kunsthal, Aarhus, DK. 2011 REMAIN IN LIGHT/ ISLANDS OF THE SOUL , together with Robin van Erven Dorens, Arti et Amicitiae, Amsterdam Nl.


Bison tracks


APPENDIX II BISON CARAVAN With this travelling exhibition Hofstede aimed to recreate a Paleolithic bison-trail in which the artworks represent the bisons as a nomadic group. Selected artists were invited ‘to join the herd’ by donating a work of art to the ‘Caravan’, eg. the exhibition. The ongoing project, that has had four editions so far, crosses the borders of different countries and cultures and grows according to the contributions of the (often local) artists that are invited to join the herd by the curators. Starting in Aarhus, Denmark (2003), it moved in the following years to Marseille (2003), Vlissingen, nl (2004) and lastly resided in Bamako, Mali (2005). In this project the power of art is used to surpass the boundaries of individualism. Caravaneering defies the speed of the commodified world, according to Hofstede. The New World has destroyed the ancient geography of nomadism and its new technology and globalisation disturbs the ‘grazing grounds of human spirit’. This interest in the liberation of the human mind and its creativity that is confined by the institutional minded system, is one of the notions that links Hofstede with Joseph Beuys. The iconic significance ascribed to the bison finds its similitude to a certain extent in the coyote of Beuys’s performance in New York in 1974 ‘I like America and America likes me’. The fascination for nature and the mystical power of certain animals, representing the incarnation of the soul and the interaction of culture and nature, is an aspect that is prominent in the work of both artists.

Bison Caravan is presented as a ‘Social Sculpture’, brought together through inner human connections rather than through the institutional artifice of curatorship, to explore freely between music and visual art, drawing and writing. The variety of origin of the works of art in the Bison Caravan exemplifies humanity’s universal potential to create, as an antithese to the global capacity to make the world a capitalistic empire. The ancient migrations of bisons break the fixation of the modern world where everything is fixed and controlled. “ Bison Caravan seeks the magical intermediary of the human hand, in order to put forward the bison as an image of World, the measurement of all things, and ultimately as Art. By reducing the world to the image of the bison, we call its surrounding wilderness into our lives. (...) The Motto ‘Back to the Bisons’ reinstalls a magical possibility from which modern art may have been stripped. (...)” (hh)





















1. Q: In 1984 you went to Paris to study film, what was the reason to change relatively quick to figurative arts? - HH: I did not change that quickly, and change from what? I was a confused young man trying to write poetry and bouts of script, like so many selfdelusional individuals in Paris at the time. It was when I drove into Roman Polanski’s Mercedes on the Champs Elysées, that I decided not to go into film. A bad omen. 2. Q: Can you tell something about the transition? HH: Out of these early scribbles came a short story, an experiment, about water. It was on a dark night in Rome when listening to a fountain, I felt the urge to establish ‘the voice of water’. Water was going to be the main issue of the 21st century. Joycean chatter but nuclear. Which became De Markies van Water ten years later. I read an interview with a photographer who claimed that photographers learn to observe, while artists at art-schools are taught to be the Centre of the Universe. I know that ego can be a great force to produce. I myself I am quite a starfucker, I got Lee Hazelwood to sign a painting of a bison some years ago, I mean, Lee Hazelwood!


3. Q: Are there other artists that you were close to in that period in time? HH: I have always listened to Herman Brood. Healy has always sustained the writings of MW. Lots of water, plenty of bison. All my PPP texts are in my Collected Writings which were published in Dublin, with Trashface Publishers last year. 4. Q: Without a formal academic artistic education, how did you initially evolve? HH: I have grown up with the incredible Collectie Becht, where I became familiar with pop artists like Mimo Rotella, Tetsumi Kudo and Jim Dine, and others. Ernst Ris who lived with us when I was a boy, held snakes, lizards, frogs, wandelende taken [stick-insects], small water turtles, a Merzbau of sub-aquatic worlds. Nature morphing into pop, into PPP, Paleo Psycho Pop. Bison Caravan is a lot about this tension, Pop is your guide to Nature, the buffalo head in the Hard Rock Café, juxtaposed with guitars and signed tennis rackets. ZZTOP rocking with the buffalos onstage. My early drawings are demonic, like I heard the Devil knocking on my door in Moscow, there was a lot of screaming in the beginning of my work, and it’s probably therefore that I also used the ‘scream in the staircase’ by Artaud, for an exhibition in Denmark. Artaud was so very hard hit by the disintegration of the mind, like also Nijnski, both artists surf on timeless waves. Time is a terrible thing. All must pass to speak with George Harrison.

5. HH: About the mythical structure of MW [De Markies van Water]: In the opening pages of MW, the sun hits the water, like an H-Bomb in reverse, like an orange and simultaneously comes up, in the ending pages of the book, in the lemondo magico, like a lemon, the world of the rising sun. This is the image of the eternal motion of our universe, orange/lemon/orange/ lemon, therefore it is a zen-moment, starting and ending at exactly the same moment, the recurrent moment out of time. When the orange sun goes down with us, in the West, it goes up with you out there, in the very East. The sun/bomb/and the image of a complex myth from Papua New Guinea, as described in Naven by Bateson, in which the male inserts a tiny, orange fruit in his rectum and so producing a fruit-faked clitoris, and becomes a woman. The sun travels through the darkest of the night, to come up in the East, and, breaking through ‘The Dikes of Reason’, De Markies van Water becomes a transvestite, raging individual, being all water in which, in an epic cleansing, sets us free. It is in this identity that his language becomes unstoppable, ‘frothing at the mouth like a mad epileptic’. The torrent of the natural force of floods, cyclones and language, washing away pop and money, pop as money, and you have the basis for PPP.

6. Q: Do you work according to a specific process? Can you describe that? Has it changed over the years? HH: I always draw in series. Demons, skulls, warclubs, heads, jellyfish, bass guitars, starfish, electric fish, bison, primordial signs and symbols. I used to always destroy the drawings and built them up again, until I find them silent, outside time. Like fossils. Lately I have been drawing lotus flowers, not bad for a once warrior! 7. Q: Would you describe your work rather introvert or extravert in character? HH: Well, I went to De Bezige Bij for them to publish MW but they said they were not ready for the adventure. If you listen to Healy’s marathon reading of the text you can hear it’s extravert. It is water! It’s very much a Dutch book, pushing the experimental tradition within Dutch literature. 8. Q: Who or what is your main source of inspiration? HH: Federico Fellini. I have met him in Rome. 9. Q: What is for you the Mondriaan tradition? HH: A badly cut cake, with some jazz in the background. To me it’s work which derives from the very structures of the Dutch landscape, of this giant squaring up of Holland, from an areal perspective, also in the mind, of Reason. No nature. I find that there is not always energy in these works, and it is this tradition that this work paved the way for some of the more boring artworks in Holland. Before Mondriaan made his transformation he had a long beard, real itchy, real Taliban. 165

In Love With Fellini, Rome 1991


Sunlight Stroheim, 2011


10. Q: Are there realms in art that you feel connected with? HH: I find Natural History Musea always fascinating, in Paris, Dublin, Aarhus. Here is where you find the Bones of Creation. So therefore Mark Dion, and in Holland, the work of Remy Jungerman. Paul Thek, Mario Merz, Miguel Barcelo recently. Beuys! He’s the man! He created his own myth. Like Chaplin. During the last stage of the MAD Tour I slept in his coat, which was stolen from Beuys in a restaurant in Paris, 1985. The whole MAD Tour was stolen from me in Dublin. There is no mystery about that. Interpol said they could not do much about it. I still like the materiality in the arts. As Prince, Black Mozart, claims that the Net in the future will be like a secondrate MTV, and the whole thing will unplug itself. In 1987 in the Centre du Pompidou there was an exhibition called Les Magiciens de la Terre, the real stuff if you know what I mean, I was electrified. Not trying to attain the status of magical work, to myth-loaden works, be them! become them! In 1997 I did a photoshoot in my studio in London called Poprise, in Denmark Street, in which the heavenly snake Damballah marries the rainbow called Wido, and that from this marriage flows forth the new world. Ernst Ris came to London to be the snake priest animating Wido, the rainbow, the latter being the very suits of the Beatles on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s. It was a show anticipating millennial tensions I guess. The new world was coming. Ernst died a little later after the exhibit in Utrecht.


11. Q: Regarding the publication of the magazine P.P.P.: will that continue and where will it be published? HH: We have decided we will run it to 30 numbers, and declare ourselves dead. Patrick Healy and I have done most of the numbers, in London, Dublin, Vlissingen, Aarhus. But also Berend Hoekstra and Christian Denzler in Brussels. It is important to stress that PPP is a space in which Pop can be auto-destructive, like a boomering out of a kilter, the sergeant dreaming about a popless world. Down with it. 12. Q: About the evolution of your work: What can you say regarding what you made earlier, what you make now and what will come? HH: I made my debut with 3 large works in the Van Reekum Museum, made of record-covers, real pop but mythological works. Two called Ocean and River, a third called 20th Century Lascaux. My friend Dick Hessing had given me 5000 guilders to make these works. I slowly have continued my crusade against pop since, in all forms. But always back to drawings, which animates my spirit. But it is also a handicap not to have been in an artschool where you can think and be articulate about your work. It’s like the radio, but a radio you can switch off.

13. Q: If I ask you to name 7 record titles/ artists names that come to mind with regards to River/Ocean/Totem what would you say? HH: Probably The Stranglers, RAVEN. Rip Rig & Panic, GOD, Pink Floyd, ATOM HEART MOTHER. There are so many wild, wild covers. A mythology derived from cover, a creation story from vinyl. I have a blur when it comes to these works. The work Totem is by now so large that I have lost track. I would love to show it again. There’s another work called Phallus made from record-covers (Collectie Becht). It’s a complex work, a scream with a real autonomous aesthetic. 14. Q: There was mentioning of a third edition of P.I.G. Is that true and where and when will that take place? How will this relate to PIG 1 and 2? HH: Yes, P.I.G. goes along. We maybe have a problem that our curator at de Musee de la Chasse et de la Nature might be replaced, and we will have to take it from there. It’s very much about presentation and representation, of the Hunt versus Survival, about weapons. It is a very different show from the first two, and of course Berend and I want the whole building!

15. Q: How, according to your point of view, relate NBH and Pop Gun to PIG and your earlier work? HH: Both exhibitions NBH and Pop Gun were exhibitions that involved a large collection of dead animals, and with the greatest and finest arm collections in the world, and also were both shows involving vitrines, they were completely behind glass. But both still refer to the domain of pop, like the names of Gandi and Peter Tosh in the same frame, of Pim Fortuin and Kurt Cobain. Therefore I can see it quite clearly, Oceania, where you can feel so free. It’s in PIG I feel best in fact because it reflects a longing to express that world through a becoming, to become that work. Like Brel and Gauguin, both buried in the Marquesas, good companion. No reference to the Age of Pop. 16. Q: Could you say something about what occupies you now and what might be the next phase in your career? HH: I have high hopes for Bison Caravan, which is slow and goes directly into the rules of the art-world with contacts in Drenthe, Canada and Australia. PIG3, work with Defunkt’s Mastermind Joseph Bowie and composer David Dramm, and a film of Robin van Erven Dorens for which I do the costumes. Some artists do the same all their artistic life and are rewarded for it, this is the autistic element of creation. Unless you are Christo, who starts with wrapping a bicycle and ends up doing the same with the Reichstag a little later. That is art that truly transforms the world.


Haute Couture/Haute Nature: What’s in it for me Mr. Munch?, collage, Amsterdam 2011



Haute Couture/Haute Nature, Interview, collage, Amsterdam 2011



Paleo Psycho Pop, collage, Amsterdam 2011 Untitled, collage, Amsterdam 2011


Bangladesh, collage, Amsterdam 2011


Dingo Triumph, collage, Amsterdam 2011




Untitled, The FloodbooksARNOAH66, collage and mud from the Arno River, Florence 1996


Beyond Restauration, canvas, bleach, glue, detergents, Aarhus 2011



Life Without End, cereal box, plastic flowers, Van Gogh chocolates, Amsterdam 2011


The Tristesse of Mr. Charles Chaplin, paper mask, sweets, custard powder, anti-epileptic medicin, leaves, Amsterdam 2011


Untitled, collage, Aarhus 2005


Untitled, collage, Aarhus 2005


Gucci - On Death and Immortality, collage, Amsterdam 2011



Haute couture/Haute Nature, PRADADA – The Day Before Doomsday, collage, Amsterdam 2011



Survival of the Fittest (Eclipse), collage, Aarhus 2007




© 2011 Hilarius Hofstede © 2011 Chantal Maljers–van Erven Dorens

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means,

Chantal Maljers- van Erven Dorens

electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing

Hilarius Hofstede Hilversum, 1965 Publisher Sales and distrubution Text Chantal Maljers–van Erven Dorens Patrick Healy Joey Bowie (quote) Edeting assistance Tijn Zweerts Design Richard van der Horst Printing and colour separation ÈposPress bv, Zwolle Copyright


from the copyright owners.


Collection Paul Andriesse Collection Becht Collection Joseph Bowie Collection Braat Collection De Bruin Collection Callanan Collection Marlene Dumas Collection Beau and Selly Van Erven Dorens Collection Grantsaan Collection Stephanie and David Hessing Collection Hoekstra Collection Remy Jungerman Collection Laffan Collection Rogier Loosen Collection Van Maaren Collection Maljers- van Erven Dorens Collection Jaap en Veronique Maljers -Swinkels, Collection Marchi

A special thanks to Pieter Smit, Jens Peter Olesen, Agnes and Vera Ipsen, Remy Jungerman, Marijke Michel, Brendan Becht, Adriaan Vandenborn, Peter van Drumpt, Marloe Thijssen, Bob en Karin Sluis, Beau van Erven Dorens, Record Palace, Rogier Loosen, Marieke Reute, Michiel van Nieuwkerk, Berend Strik, Henk van Engelen, Jorisjan Reute, Job Reute, Peter Pander, Danny Malando, Alison Crosbie, William Laffan, Joris Escher, Eelje Kulberg, Barbara Hin.

The production of this publication would not have been possible without the mental, intellectual and physical support of my friends and family in particular. Special thanks and admiration goes to Patrick Healy who was of immense encouragement and inspiration during the process of the research leading up to this publication and to my brother Robin who’s documentary ‘Islands of the Soul’ on Hilarius Hofstede was the first source of inspiration for this book.

Particular gratitude goes out to the sponsors that have made the realisation of this publication possible: Teunen Konzepte GmbH (AIM)

Collection Marijke Michel Collection Neervoort Collection Milco en Baudi Onrust Collection Otto Schaap Collection Van Reekum Museum Collection Jan Ritsema, PAF Collection Lejo and Svan Schenk Collection Schulte

Maljers Kliniek Veronique en Jaap Familie Maljers And mostly to my beloved husband Alexander

Collection Sluis, Amsterdam Collection SNS Real, Amersfoort Collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam Collection Suys Collection Teunen Konzepte Collection Adriaan Vandenborn Collection Verherstraetens


‘Lightfactory’, Watertoren Vlissingen, Vlissingen 1999


Hilarius Hofstede about the mythical structure of MW [De Markies van Water]: “ In the opening pages of MW, the sun hits the water, like an H-Bomb in reverse. Like an orange it descends in the sea and on the other side it simultaneously rises again, like a lemon, the world of the rising sun, lemondo magico. This is the image of the eternal motion of our universe, orange/lemon/orange/ lemon, therefore it is a zen-moment, starting and ending at exactly the same moment, the recurrent moment out of time. When the orange sun goes down with us, in the West, it goes up somewhere in the very east. The sun/ bomb/lemon image recalls a complex myth from Papua New Guinea as described in ‘Naven’ by Bateson: the male inserts a tiny, orange fruit in his rectum, producing a fruit-faked clitoris and thus becomes a woman. The sun travels through the darkest of nights, to come up in the East, and, breaking through ‘The Dikes of Reason’, the Markies van Water becomes a transvestite, raging individual, being all water in which, in an epic cleansing, sets us free. It is in this identity that his language becomes unstoppable, the torrent of the natural force of floods, cyclones and language, washing away pop and money, pop as money, and you have the basis for Paleo Psycho Pop.“ Hilarius Hofstede in interview with the author (October 2010).


PALEO PSYCHO POP, Rhizomatics =Popanalysis. Mythology, Surrealism andTaxonomy in the work of Hilarius Hofstedeby the arthistorian C.E. Malje...