Teun Hocks

Understanding Society (2013, photography, textiles)

Teun Hocks - Understanding Society (2013, fotografie, textiel)

Understanding Society is the motto with which Tilburg University presents itself, and it is the subject of the 2013 artwork by Teun Hocks, which hangs in the Auditorium. The work is based on a staged, painted photograph in which the artist himself can be seen, as the man with a magnifying glass studying an enormous footprint—the only one visible in the landscape. It is the kind of paradox that Hocks (Leiden, 1947) often uses in his photographic work. What is special about the work in the Auditorium is the fact that it was not printed on photographic paper, but woven from textiles, based on a digital file. This was carried out by the Textiel Lab, part of the Dutch Textile Museum in Tilburg, with which the university regularly collaborates.

The university still owns five works by this artist, all of which are more or less related to knowledge or research. The work therefore “is in line” with the university, and it is also in linel with the working method of Teun Hocks. Before he arrives at his “painted pictures,” he researches a subject. He does this by drawing and sketching and then by constructing, step by step, a certain situation in his studio. This creates a setting for which he searches for suitable materials and objects that express the idea of wonder, or sometimes playful irony. In this way, a whole grows—in which the artist himself almost always plays a role—that forms the basis for a “photo painting.”

Teun Hocks

Cineast Pieter Verhoef made a portrait of him as part of the Dutch Masters series, stating that in Hocks' worlds there is always a bit of a friction. "It's too romantic, too obscure, too implausible, too dark. The man depicted, Hocks himself, is a pseudonym. He is standing there, he is there in a sense, but he plays it. Moreover, that one man represents several men: stupid, overconfident, lyrical, but "mostly it's just a 'boring-everybody-man,'" according to Teun Hocks himself.

Hocks' works rarely have a title ("I don't want to direct the viewer"), except for the one in the auditorium. At the unveiling of the work, Hocks remarked that he has been trying to make sense of society his entire life, but has not quite figured out what it is all about until now: "I still don't understand society at all."

More about history and academic heritage

The Tilburg University academic heritage is a very diverse set of archives, visual materials, collections, devices, recorded stories, et cetera that relate to the history of the university.