Joël Bonk (1980) attended the Artez college in Zwolle where he studied Visual Arts. He left halfway to study in Rotterdam at The Willem de Kooning Academy, where started studying traditional printmaking. After a while he got back to his first interest for sculpting and spatial work.
In 2011 Joël graduated with an installation that simulated a bakery-shop where he baked bread (with molds of clay) in the shape of the human skeleton. Making the bones (the only tangible proof that remains for human existence) ‘hyper’ transient by baking it from bread which decays within days.
By calling the work “The Ousia Shop”, (with the latin word “Ousia” meaning “to be, I am”), Joël wanted to ask the ‘hardnosed’ question: “What are we?”. Not to answer it with a religious narrative or a scientific explanation, but to continue the search and deepen the understanding of what it is to be human.
From using natural elements (such as bread, wood, flowers, clay etc.) in his work, Joël has turned to a ‘darker’ side to explore a more unromantic view of being human. Using building materials that are often synthetic and unnatural. Like Styrofoam, Rubber tubing, Resin and other artificial materials have become his contemporary base of (anatomic) sculptures. Embracing the ‘ease’ of using artificial materials, often working with discarded and ordinary objects.
Joël’s post-academic work contains often contrasts, historical reverences, ironical yokes, bright colours and lots of black by the use of rubber-tubing. Tubing that is commonly used in agriculture to control the growth of trees and plants. In the same way Joël is ‘cultivating’ a contemporary view of man.