this text was written by AF lesuisse on the occasion of the 1 year exhibition in the foyer of kask cinema.
Apparatus of Joy, the title given by Kristof Thomas* to the series of photos that welcome the spectators of KASK Cinema, is a promise and a concept.
Joy, as we know, is fleeting, it only lasts a moment. That is why, potentially, it can come back and come back again. Whether it disappears, it is promised to return. And if we add an apparatus to it, as Kristof Thomas does, then the foundations of a system for controlling joy begin to be built, a system where it can be made to return 'on command'.
So, if we wanted to formulate the title differently, we could say, for example, "the set of means and tools that bring enjoyment". Or "the complex machinery for producing amusement". Suddenly, the lightness and transience of joy is weighted with an unexpected infrastructure. This does not mean that it loses its playfulness and flexibility. But it is no longer occurring without a cause.
Let’s have a look: between latent abstraction and bricolage figuration, the pictures show less objects than colours and shapes, sometimes textures. The objects are only pretexts for arrangements, interactions, (dis)compositions, (dis)balances of all kinds. The photos are worthwhile in themselves, but they could just as well be traces of a not yet completed performance or of an installation in the process of being finalised or dismantled. The manipulations, physical or digital, are not hidden. The studio is always there, somewhere in the background, as are the imprecise marks left by the software, for once not erased, nor polished. Joy is actually revealed in the pleasure of making and unmaking and remaking.
But making and unmaking and remaking what, exactly?
Another possible rephrasing of the title would be: "the means and organisation of an ideological system that works to provide satisfaction". Visual satisfaction is a major motto of our contemporary era: everything revolves around the eye, and the culture of social networks and the internet is literally overflowing with images which, we sometimes tend to forget, are part of regulated production procedures, codes, explicit or implicit rules that imperceptibly format our gaze.
Kristof Thomas seizes on these rules and twists them with glee, just enough to play with the utmost seriousness, neither too much nor too little. In doing so, he takes an amused look at the absurdity of what a 'popular' image is. He deconstructs it, then re-stages it with the fragments. His favourite objects are leftovers: bits of frigolite, wooden spikes, old springs, an eraser, a strip of a tablecloth, packaging cardboard, etc. He even worked with cold fries for a while...
What does Kristof Thomas do in the end? Perhaps he gives an anarchic dignity (“anarchic” in the sense that as an artist he makes use of his absolute freedom) to the remnants of the generalized consumption of goods and images. He magnifies the “almost nothing” through photography, questioning in the same movement the limits of the medium and the limits of the aesthetics. In the end, he has a lot of fun with bits and pieces in the vast playground of "all the means and tools of a complex machinery that organises an ideological system".
*Kristof Thomas (b. 1995) is pursuing a Master's degree in Photography at the KASK. Excerpts from the series Apparatus of Joy are shown in the foyer of the KASK Cinema until December 2022. This and other constantly evolving series can be seen on his website (kristofthomas.com) and his Instagram account (@kristofthomas). To account for the constant work in progress, the image on the left of the triptych will be replaced each month by a new one.