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In early 2010, our dear friend and artist, Tom Bogaert embarked on a two year Grand Tour of the Near East.  There he has been working on ‘Impression, proche orient’ (IPO), a project highlighting issues relevant to contemporary Middle East society including politics and artistic identity of each region.

The first tangible results of the artist’s work on IPO were on view during his residency at Makan Art Space in Amman, Jordan in February, March and April, 2010. Since, Bogaert has gone on to create another IPO in Syria and Palestine, which will be featured in the following Critical Briefs.

KO MPR ESS OR, 2010 by Tom Bogaert, Auto body parts, wax and Mercedes-Benz emblems 4 x (90 cm x 67 cm)

Tom Bogaert coined the neologism ‘kompressorin the context of his research at Makan Art Space in Jordan on forms of government in the Middle East. Until recently the term ‘kompressor’ referred mainly to Mercedes-Benz’s turbocharged engines and the hugely popular – albeit overused – badges that identify them. The new meaning Bogaert gave ‘kompressor’ is the product of the following formula: compassionate + oppressor = kompressor. It reflects the ‘Everything for the people, nothing by the people’ spirit of enlightened absolutism and it can be applied to the majority of rulers in the region. (for more on this KO MRP ESS OR).

"Jordan Cucumber," 2010 by Tom Bogaert, Acrylic paint on fresh cucumbers 24 x ( 6 x 1.5 ) inches

Bogaert’s statement for his work “Jordan Cucumber”:

Some argue that there is no need to evacuate the West Bank settlements and indeed no need to create a state for the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank because a Palestinian state already exists in neighboring Jordan.

Jordan granted most of the West Bank Palestinian refugees citizenship and is now a nation of six million people, divided about evenly between those from the East Bank of the Jordan River — considered original Jordanians — and those from the West Bank.

The proposal by which West Bank Palestinians simply have to come to Jordan for all their problems to be solved is called the ‘Jordan option’. It’s a perennial idea floated by different political actors in the region in various forms: the term also refers to a possible Jordanian security role in the West Bank or a future form of unity between a Palestinian state and the Kingdom of Jordan.

In discussing this Jordan Option, Khalid Mishal (the leader of Hamas) and other Arab leaders, jokingly call it the ‘Jordan cucumber’ because the Arabic word ‘khiyar’ translates as both ‘option’ and ‘cucumber.’

This option / cucumber wordplay is the starting point for Tom Bogaert’s ‘Jordan cucumber’ project. It consists of painted and rotting cucumbers, a translucent tablecloth greenhouse, seedlings and video. –Tom Bogaert

GREENHOUSE FOR JORDAN CUCUMBER, 2010 by Tom Bogaert Translucent tablecloths, wood and light box 40 x 30 x 30 inches


Bogaert has also created a stop-motion video documenting the stages of the cucumbers decomposition, entitled “Decaying Jordan Cucumber” symbolically reflecting the feeling of the “Jordan Option” for the palestinian people, as it becomes less of a political possibility (See below for stills from “Decaying Jordan Cucumber”). Stay tuned for Bogaert’s next series of IPO from Syria, and for more information on Tom’s work please visit his site.





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