Featuring portraits of family, friends, intimate strangers, nudes and landscapes, the expo ‘Marvelous Persona’ is an ode to everyone who stood before his lens. As a sixteen year old, Menno got his hands on his first analogue camera and almost instantaneously collecting memories became second nature. ‘Marvelous Persona’ reveals perspective on the world around him; it showcases works from the first film roll he shot in 1988, to his most recent shot in 2017. Ranging from the classic nude and snapshots en-route to polaroids and post-modern mugshots.
Be it as an art lover, teacher, curator, father, husband or photographer, Kok is full-on. His behaviour is reminiscent of that of a mad collector: he collects tokens of nostalgia, evidence that we were here – in an attempt to conquer his love/hate relationship to photography. By drawing attention to the mundane, he opens our eyes to the divine. In effect, Menno reveals to us who we really are, without even necessarily portraying us physically in the image. Those who’ve stood before his lens seem quite anonymous, but are omnipresent; fragile, yet empowered as well. Kok contextualises popular culture that we take for granted, and opens our eyes to the mechanics that lie behind it, a balancing act right on the intersection between romance and cynicism. Opting for ‘the awkward’ in stead of ‘the beautiful’, he often leaves the viewer feeling just a little bit silly.
September – October 2017