The Shype of Foles (of the Worlde)®, a collaboration with Kelly Schacht


Kelly Schacht and Ric Bower  mounted a set of loud hailers to to the roof of a small hatchback car and invited selected individuals to recite excerpts from The Shyp of Folys of the Worlde, (1509) — Alexander Barclay’s translation from Sebastian Brant’s Das Narrenschiff, (The Ship of Fools), (1494) — over the hailer system,  as they drove slowly round the seaside town of Oostende, Belgium. The performance took place on the opening day of The Raft - Art is (not) Lonely, an exhibition curated by Jan Fabre and Joanna De Vos at Mu.ZEE, Oostende in October 2017.


Two A0 posters, were pasted to the sides of the hatchback for the performance; these posters also formed part of Schacht’s presentation in the museum space. The posters’ content conflated excerpts from the Barclay’s text with contemporary marketing language, of the type used to advertise a theme park. The text actualises the fictional Ship of Fools as a contemporary, commercial, recreational commodity or service industry.


For the final part of the work the artists commissioned an IT specialist to develop an algorithm that automatically tweeted random couplets from The Shyp of Folys of the Worlde text, for the duration of the exhibition.


These three closely related works— one operating in the gallery space, one as an intervention in a contemporary urban environment and one as an intervention in the realm of social media— invited questions about contemporary attitudes to morality. They also become memento mori to the 21st century’s dominant styles of communication by demonstrating how Barclay’s once pertinent satire transitions into cultural unintelligibility over the course of 500 years.


Das Narrenschiff, (Book of Fools), (1494), is a book of satire, first published in Basel, Switzerland, by  Sebastian Brant, a conservative German theologian. The origin of the ship of fools – a pilotless vessel full of misdirected individuals – extends back to Plato. Brant used the allegory as the basis for a moral satire on foolishness, or to be more exact, an exhaustive range of human weaknesses and vices .Foolishness was a frequently employed in the pre-Reformation period to legitimise criticism in general and of the of the church in particular.


The posters may be viewed as a PDF file here:

And the film may be seen here:


The Shype of Foles (of the Worlde)® , Kelly Schacht and Ric Bower, performance (±4 hours), film (4m 45s), 2017, car, printed matter, loud speaker system and volunteers