“Elasticity at Home! is a vademecum with 96 reflections that I wrote between 1976 and 2019. They take you along in the spiritual development of a twenty-four to sixty-eight year old artist. I initially started collecting these notes in the form of a conversation, using questions and answers, an interaction between my various ‘selves’ who made these notes in the margins of an artistic practice.
On reflection, I thought it would be more convenient to use the 96 words that formed the basis of my HeadNurse project (1995-2015) as a guide to structure these reflections. As a HeadNurse*, for ten years I drew parallels between the creative principle as it appears in writings on alchemy, and the forces that determine the outlook and movements in our society. I selected words from professional literature on knowledge representation, Artificial Intelligence and thermodynamic forces, and connected them with terms from books on space travel, cosmetics, and nursing manuals.
These 96 terms were taken from my project in the Beursschouwburg (Brussels) in 1986, for which I was one of the six artists selected to collaborate with a scientist (in my case, Luc Steels). For my HeadNurse project, which I called a ‘Sex & Technology project’, I attached to each of these words a woman’s image from my collection of nude women’s magazines. In this way, by making installations, films, and other works, a socio-cultural reflection developed on the aberrations of the society we have been living in for some time.
Because I made the 96 texts as stand-alone observations on the fringes of my artistic practice, and because they were written before, during, and in the aftermath of my HeadNurse cycle, they are the biography of a brain constantly questioning the place of the artist in today’s world.
For nine years, I led a discussion and reflection platform for a group of master’s students at the KASK in Ghent. Throughout the years, I noticed an increasing interest in the substantive links between the practice of mature and young artists. This prompted me to fine-tune this compendium. By the end of 2019, it was ready and I had it proofread by my then intern Julie De Kezel. How I was going to publish it? I did not find the right way for a long time, as I wanted to make the text available free of charge to art students and other interested parties.
My current intern at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, graphic designer Maxim Preaux, in his enthusiasm suggested a layout of the texts combined with drawings and other images by me. I gave him a hard disk holding more than a thousand images, from which he made a personal selection. We joined forces, and then the collaboration with Johan Pas and Els De bruyn led to the finalization of the publication.
* Shortly after the advent of consumer computers, I gave myself the name HeadNurse as a female counterpart of Big Brother, also having her in mind as Dr. Fr. Nietzsche’s assistant.”
Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven, November 2020