contemporary art / history of art

Artwork of the Month / January 2021

F’OOT N’OTES (A Rehearsal) #5
Ode De Kort

Photo print on dibond
70 cm x 105 cm
Edition of 5

Ode de Kort’s photography “F’OOT N’OTES (A Rehearsal) #5” shows a red stockinged leg and two black rubber boots in a white image space. It seems like the leg is leaving the scenery: the foot is only on tiptoe and the upper leg passes diagonal to the upper left corner, so that the frame cuts it off. Whereas the, to the right oriented wellingtons appear more static. However, a certain dynamic impart the spur-like accessory at the back of each bootleg, which recall a comma. This comma sign is repeated at the heel of the “leaving” leg.

Like a comma in a text, the here used commas are connecting the single elements and are giving a rhythm. Therefore, it is perhaps not by chance that Ode has chosen this font style. It reminds a Bass clef or with a little bit of phantasy also an Eighth note rest or even a reversed note as used in musical notations. Seen as musical symbol, the comma might indicate a sequence of sound.

Additionally, the optical arrangement of the commas describes a movement from downside up. Then staying at the same level, one might continue the line to the right image edge. Thus generating a countermovement to the leaving leg and stabilising the scenery. Another steadying element is the colour scheme. The red of the stocking as introduction has an announcement effect. However, it is in opposite to the reading direction from left to right. Whereas the black rubber boots are anchored by the most possible contrast with the white background.

The leg and the wellingtons have opposite movement directions. However, they are still related, as described before. Considering Ode’s affection for letters, one might see the leaving leg as a “J” which for the artist stands for the French word “je” – I. The “L” exemplifies the French word “Elle” – she. In consequence, the picture illustrates the artist’s idea of herself and the other, whereby the arranged elements are placeholders.

“F’OOT N’OTES (A Rehearsal) #5” is part of a series of so far seven photos. As the subtitle “A Rehearsal” indicates, they are a sort of preparation for a performance by the artist. Typical in her oeuvre, Ode’s different forms of expression – photography, sculpture, performance and video – are interwoven. Footnotes are used for an author’s comment on the main text, for quotes to complete the text or for references. The artist regards them as a reference or a thought to her arising work. Besides, feet as protagonists are making notes. Hence, the title.

Moreover, Ode’s single projects are built on each other. A long-lasting artistic involvement with letters, in particular with the “O” and later the “U” is preceding the footnotes. The spelling of the title reflects this affinity. Instead of using “Footnote” as one word, she separates the letters by apostrophes. This segregates the term. A glance to the origin of the inverted comma in the font style, which is used in the photo, leads to the ancient greek psili / Spiritus lenis (Latin) or smooth breathing. It was used at the beginning of a word with vowel to underline the pronunciation without a voiceless glottal fricative/h. In using the spelling of the title as Ode does, it accentuates her beloved “O”.


Ode De Kort

Born in 1992 in Malle, Begium, Ode De Kort studied photography at the School of Arts in Ghent and graduated in 2015 with an MA. Already during her studies, she started to participate in national and international group exhibitions and had her first solo show in 2014 in Brussels. Since then, her works were on view in Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands. Her last intervention in 2020 was her installation and performance during the Riga Photography Biennial in the group exhibition “On Photographic Beings” at the Latvian National Museum of Art. An installation with movement is planned for June 2021 at the de Warande house of culture in Turnhout, Belgium. Here she will perform with several people in two spaces, including a theatre hall.

Coming from photography, Ode expanded early her repertoire of artistic means. First, the photos left their two dimensionality and became sculpture and installation. Then performance added also movement to her works. By the time, the circle and with this the letter “O” became referential in her works. Besides being one of the most anthropomorphic letters of the Latin alphabet, there is also the autobiographical aspect, since there are two O’s in the artist’s name as the curator Chris Sharp remarked. Besides installations of O’s in space, the letter became protagonist in performances. Moreover, the artist acted with the O and engaged a dialogue with it and the space around them.

Before long, the O got a counterpart, the “U”. They meet as rubber circles and bands and function as body and alike as graphic character. In installations, they were accompanied by other letters and punctuation marks, especially the comma sign and the apostrophe. In 2019, Ode created the artist book “OOUU”, with 513 O’s and 414 U’s, which was published by het balanseer with a design by Ruud Ruttens.

During the artist’s interventions, her legs and feet became a supporting actor for example in the performance “Walk with U”. Hence, the idea to integrate shoes in her work. Obvious were black rubber boots, since they are of the same material as the black rubber circles and bands, base for the O’s and U’s. Moreover, the Wellingtons can also be seen as the letters “L” and “J”. So they became protagonists of Ode’s photo series “F’OOT N’OTES (A Rehearsal)”, a preparation for a future performance. “F’OOT N’OTES (A Rehearsal) #5” is our artwork of the month / January 2021.

Ode lives and works in Antwerp, Belgium.