A recurring theme in Karel van Laere’s work is the antagonism between the human body and technological systems. Between 2021 and 2022 he shifted his gaze to the inside of the body using surgical tools. The vulnerability of the internal body usually shows its beauty in sterile operating rooms where surgeons deftly perform meticulous operations with laparoscopic instruments. Fascinated by its fragility, van Laere explored the inside of the body and the artistic possibilities of laparoscopic instruments in a series of new works which the performance Reach (2023) comes from.
In November 2022 he was invited to witness a surgical operation taking place at St. Antonius hospital in Nieuwegein. Seeing the surgeons at work, feeling the tension of a full six-hour-long surgery – including the removal of 10 cm of colon, happening in front of his eyes – was one of the most intriguing things he had ever witnessed.
In his studio van Laere started training with laparoscopic instruments using a laparoscopy training box. The first concept version of Reach was created during a three-month residency in The Grey Space in the Middle, The Hague where the work was shown during van Laere’s first solo exhibition.