Above/featured: Alicja Kwade exhibition, at the Berlinische Galerie. HL:X70.
In October 2021, I watched DW Culture’s Arts.21 feature on Polish-German artist Alicja Kwade. I knew I had to see her work and exhibition in person, but would it be even possible? My answer arrived six weeks later with a quick jump home to Berlin.
All of Kwade’s sculptural pieces in her exhibition, “In Abwesenheit” (In Absence)”, are “self-portraits.” But none of them show her face; the pieces aren’t necessarily simple, nor are they “selfies” characterized by the present vernacular. She is not physically present, and yet, every piece provides the visitor a glimpse into her mindset including questions she raises about the volatility of the human condition and about where we fit within a very large universe.
As former research scientist, I’m recognizing and I’m loving the influences on her art. She is clearly very interested in mathematics, physics, astrophysics, biology, genetics; but she’d be the first to admit she’d need multiple lives to completely fulfill all of her interests. The deconstruction of “self” into precise scientific elements is another way of expressing those (dreaded) “selfies” or self-portraits. I admire the clever play: it’s the breakdown into those elements that tell us what she is, and it’s the measured synthesis of those elements into the broad strokes of her sculptures that tell us who she is.
We’re all playing this game. Everyday things seem so important. But then you zoom out and realize that you’re standing with another billion [people] on a spinning sphere. With that perspective, you’re reminded to just be glad you’re here at all.
– 16 April 2019, Artnet News about her rooftop commission at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
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I’m highlighting this month Chinese-Canadian artist Ken Lum: born and raised in the western Canadian city of Vancouver; he began studying chemistry at university before switching completely to art. Today, not only does he continue to make art, but he also comments about the contemporary and historical nature of art and about how art and society continuously shapes and informs each other. All of Lum’s pieces featured this month are located outdoors and freely accessible to the public at zero cost.
These look like wooden shacks along a creek or small river. In 2010, Lum completed a sculptural work commissioned by the City of Vancouver next to the four-star Shangri-La Hotel, as a “reminder of contested local histories.” Meant only as a temporary display, the piece was eventually removed. In 2012, the District of North Vancouver purchased Lum’s piece; a modified smaller version of the sculptural piece is installed at Maplewood Flats, in the very same area where shacks had once populated the mudflats along the northern shores of Burrard Inlet. Represented are houses once owned by artist Tom Burrows, writer Malcolm Lowry, and OrcaLab founder Dr. Paul Spong.
I made the photo above on 3 Jul 2021 with a Fujifilm X70 fixed-lens prime (18.5/28mm) with digital teleconverter set to 33/50mm. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-llf.