(Image courtesy: Jakob Boeskov)
Fooling dealers and security officials at a Beijing arms fair into believing he’d devised a high-tech weapon, the ID Sniper rifle, to track potential criminals by shooting GPS chips at demonstrators is just one way New York-based artist Jakob Boeskov deals with authoritarianism in his multidisciplinary practice. Rough-hewn charcoal and pastel sketches on paper push the point, investigating human beings’ relationship to technology in a style not too far removed from Raymond Pettibon’s prolific work in ink. Reached by email, the Denmark native talked about themes expressed in “Hologram Politics,” an exhibition of his work at Ada Gallery.
Richmond magazine: The ID Sniper rifle hoax happened in 2002, before you turned 30. Has it been difficult to surpass that moment in your work life? Do people expect conceptual projects from you more than drawings?
Boeskov: I have recently finished the second part of the “pre-crime” trilogy which the ID Sniper was the first part of. The second part is called Face Jagger and is another conceptual art piece disguised as a futuristic weapon. But it took 13 years to complete! So yes, in that sense it was difficult. To answer the last part of your question: I don’t know what people expect from me. I see myself mostly as a conceptual artist. I don’t sell art, I sell ideas.
RM: Some of your work seems to depict robots obtaining human consciousness. Do you worry about that?
Boeskov: Personally, I don’t think machines will ever gain something that can be compared to human consciousness. ... We as humans, however, can adopt a way of machine-thinking and in a way, we already have.
RM: There’s a comic-book quality to some of your work. Did you read comics while you were growing up?
Boeskov: I read Robert Crumb and Richard Corben. Comics were, before cheap video technology, the only cheap way to fuse images and narrative. I am a visual artist, but I find narrative irresistible.
RM: Have Americans and Europeans responded differently to your work? In the States, there’s a pretty unique perspective on security and guns.
Boeskov: American paranoia is based on the fact that we are living on stolen land in an economy originally based on slavery. In Europe, the paranoia is based on class wars and the geographical proximity to Africa and Russia. ... So yes, the approach to security is radically different on the two continents. The place where my work has been best received is in Germany. Perhaps the German combination of extreme guilt and logic is good for the understanding of my work.
RM: Is “Hologram Politics” honest, if some of your other work hasn’t been?
Boeskov: All my work is honest. And there are many kinds of truth. The opposite of a sublime truth is another sublime truth. I am fascinated by mimicry and camouflage in nature. Is the butterfly deceitful for having fantastically colored wings that make it look like a scary monster or a beautiful poisonous flower? I don’t think so.
Boeskov’s “Hologram Politics” runs throughout July at Ada Gallery, 228 W. Broad St. 644-0100 or adagallery.com.