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Boris & Kitchenknife


Boris & Kitchenknife, two human-sized subversive rats, decided in 2017 that it was time to stand up to the established values of our diseased society. Besides a manifesto (13)—yes, you read that right—they also wrote poetry and music together. They talked about the pariahs of our society, in a naturalistic, almost loving manner, adopting the slogan ‘PARIAH 4 BELGIUM’ (see: Outsiders).

Their gigs were always rough, raw and direct: intense spoken word on a bed of noise, produced by two angry rats. Their third performance took place at music festival Pukkelpop, where they succeeded in emptying the tent within minutes. They used offensive language liberally and no taboo was spared. One thing is certain: the rats always spoke the unfiltered truth.

Boris was the leader—a mysterious frontman who read his deadly prose aloud from a grimy notebook. His nervous pacing and the small font size of his texts brought him time and again to boiling point, culminating in a rain of vinegar (see: The Blue Hand).

Kitchenknife, the unguided projectile, supplied Boris’s lyrics with fitting musical accompaniment. For this purpose, he fabricated many an instrument from rubbish, and together they tampered extensively with electronics. During their performances, they liked to distribute propaganda among the audience. This was how they disseminated their own manifesto, a bootleg of 'Werken is een misdaad' (‘Work is a crime’) (14), or a limited artists’ edition (15).

In 2018, Boris & Kitchenknife released their debut 'NOGharder' (‘EVENlouder’) (16) under Svart Blod Records. For the occasion, they turned Crying Space (17) into a cardboard rats’ nest, which you had to crawl into through a narrow tunnel, in order to reach the performance. In between Boris & Kitchenknife’s songs, texts were also recited by poet Charlotte Van den Broeck and Geert Brees, secretary and performer of lyrics written by J.M.H. Berckmans (see: Bukowski & Co). During the 2020 lockdown, Boris & Kitchenknife worked on new material, including the song 'Bezworen Geweld' (‘Sworn Violence’), which is available from the website of artist Kris Van Dessel’s BOX-project (18).

  • (13) Boris & Kitchenknife Manifest — Boris & Kitchenknife. A variation on the manifesto by Freedom Club, handed out during performances. Self-published: Antwerp, open edition, technique: photocopy on yellow paper.
  • (14) Werken is een misdaad (‘Work is a crime’) — Herman J. Schuurman. Uitgeverij De Orkaan: Utrecht, 1924. Bootleg of this pamphlet by Boris & Kitchenknife. Self-published: Antwerp, 2018, number of copies unknown, technique: photocopy.
  • (15) Een genummerd plakje kaas in een afsluitbaar zakje (‘A numbered slice of cheese in a resealable bag’) — Boris & Kitchenknife, handed out during performances. Self-published: Antwerp, 2018, 10 copies, technique: cheese in bag.
  • (16) NOGharder (‘EVENlouder’) — Boris & Kitchenknife. Svart Blod Records: Antwerp, 2018, 55 copies, technique: yellow audio tape in double cassette sleeve with digital download code, mini-zine, small and large poster.
  • (17) Crying Space, experimental project space by Ignace Cami and Ward Zwart in Antwerp: 2017-present.
  • (18) BOX — an online sound exhibition is a growing collection of audio works made by artists. This project was started during the 2020 lockdown by artist Kris Van Dessel.