Ronnie Van Hout

The Comedian

VAULT drops in on Ronnie van Hout, whose sharp, witty work draws on
the enigma of sci-fi, the raw energy of post-punk and something deeper
and less defined he’s been harbouring since childhood.

feature by Will Cox

Ronnie van Hout remembers the first time he saw a UFO. He was six. “It was a magazine called UFO,” he tells me, “with a photograph of a UFO on the front. A real photograph, of a real thing. At that age you already seem to know how photography works, without really knowing.” He later realised that it was a cheap bit of fakery, a coin placed on a piece of glass and held aloft to the sky. But the moment stuck: the magazine was on a high shelf in a newsagent window, behind glass, mysterious. It was a UFO to him, and he had to know what it was.

He’s said of his hometown of Christchurch that it has a very big sky. “A dominant sky,” he says. “It’s a very flat place, with this huge dome of sky over the top.” So naturally he looked up. He later left Christchurch, but he never let go of cheap fakery. “Most artists are amateurs,” he says. “I don’t want people who look at my work to focus on technique. Look,” he says, gesturing at the sculpture he’s working on at the moment. “I just glued the hands on here,” he says. “It’s all very rudimentary.”

Van Hout’s studio is a dusty, chilly industrial space in West Melbourne, shelves lined with dissected dolls, toys and books. One wall is a green screen for filmmaking (like The Dark Pool, his 2015 restating of bits of A Clockwork Orange). I spot a model of a flying ... Subscribe to read this article in full

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