In Connect One (2016) Tom Herck gives shape to life in a time of moral uncertainty. The artist was particularly struck by the way values got scattered in ‘the land of liberty, equality and fraternity’ after the 2015 and 2016 terrorist attacks. While the attack may evoke comparisons to earlier tragedies in New York, London, or Madrid, France’s relationship with its Muslim citizens is complex, particular, and particularly charged.

Tom Herck uses his work to build bridges of understanding. Like many international artists today, he seeks to explore the impact of civilisational conflicts and war on people. One of the reasons to explore this theme through art is that so far there is no historical perspective for terrorism and the current European cultural impasse. Throughout this oeuvre Herck explores the amplification of nostalgic games (fe The Collector, The decline and Missing) to physically relate to the story of our time. In Connect One (2016) a wooden four-in-a-row box is the starting point.

Four-in-a-Row is a centuries old two-player connection game. Also labeled ‘Captain's Mistress’, Captain James Cook used to play it with his fellow officers on his long voyages. To win one has to connect 4 pieces in a row, column or diagonally. The artist tactfully converted ‘Connect Four’ into  'one-in a row' (Connect One: 'The original strategy game'). On the left we see Mohammed, on the right Christ. There is only one hole, so there is no connection. The gap between Christianity and Islam is being revealed.

On the left side of the game box, two male players are indicated instead of the usual two sexes symbol. Christianity, like Islam, focuses on the male actors. In these gender-oriented religions the dominance of men is prevalent. Age is infinite. The lower side is marked by a cross and a star. Turning right we visually ‘unpack’ the box, disclosing the game’s superstructure. On the left we find a Minaret and on the right a Church tower. The interconnected houses of worship are built on human height. Yellow and red chips on the floor invite visitors to play to infinity; considering this game can’t be won.

© text by Lara van Oudenaarde.
© Photos by Erik Jamar.

Partners: Festival MineArt - Province Bourgogne - City of Blanzy