J&B sees the street as a reflection of society, in all its banality, beauty and creativity. In video installations, sculptures and bin bag paintings J&B paints the subconscious of society which bubbles to the surface through urban visual culture.
J&B practices an 'archeology of the street'. In a sharp, poetic and humorous way, dividing lines become visible and palpable. Topics such as immigration, work and gender play a major role in expressions on the street and form a common thread in J&B's work. The duo thus stands in an art-historical tradition that reaches from Breughel to David Hammons. J&B performs magic with multi-vocality and engagement, the effect of language in public spaces, the painterly value of bin bags and contemporary memento mori symbolism.
J&B's installations consist of combinations of video work and sculptural elements. Each video work has a theme that highlights the soul of a city. For example, the video Work in Progress, tells about how automation and robotization are taking over our work, and our struggle to remain relevant. The sculptural elements are often reminiscent of street furniture, such as wheelie bins and bus shelters. J&B’s bin bag paintings and sculptural elements are based on creative expressions from the street - for example stickers, graffiti, posters and protest signs. This creates urban totem poles full of symbolism. The everyday image of the street, which we often pass without hesitation, turns out to be a focal point for opinions and meaning.
J&B’s practice consists of many different ingredients, however compromise is not one of them. Their collaboration started with drawings that they exchanged between them, to supplement, tear, erase or cut up the other’s work. Every time they got a little further than they would have on their own, by pushing each other to their limits. The creative process accelerated because mutual discussion shortened the incubation period for ideas. From an increasingly clearly defined common ground they felt encouraged to explore other media and develop their own forms of expression such as the bin bag paintings and grinder drawings. J&B have always referred to themselves as a collective rather than a duo. That keeps the door open to collaboration with third parties such as the musicians and actors in their video works. A designer, photographer and writer temporarily became members of the collective for a book about J&B. They applied J&B’s transformative strategy of sampling and recasting – rigorously and without compromise – to their own work.
Slogans, conspiracies, opinions, commercial messages, declarations of love, hate mail, news and poetry – we’re bombarded with them on a daily basis. The optimist refers to ‘polyphony’ while the misanthrope deems it ‘cacophony’. Whatever you think about it, the multitude of visions and their expressions are inextricably linked to urbanity. Opinions and assertions enter into a dialogue or try to overwhelm the other. They collide, mix and shoot past each other. J&B capture them all and then recreate them in other combinations. By transplanting them to another context or executing them in an alternative material new meanings arise. Either tongue-in-cheek or dead serious J&B’s works expose deeply rooted prejudice. The discomfort this causes may function as a lever to break open the bubbles we’re all inevitably stuck in.