2015.12.12 – 2016.01.29
Karsten Födinger: The Critical Mass
Realized through the engineering or construction techniques, the oeuvre of German artist Karsten Födinger brings forth the role of the mechanics as a constitutional element of sculpture – we are reminded that it is such a genre that rigidly follows the law of physics. The architectonical fundamentals, such as the cantilever, the avalanche breaker, or the riverside reinforcements, are utilized as a language for one to reflect on the climatic, geographical uncertainties that grounds and un-grounds the current planetary condition.
As the first international artist that the Antenna Space has premiered — which is also the artist’s first presence in Asia — Karsten Födinger proposes a research into the Chinese geography, concluded with four installations along with one photo series. The Fluvial Yingbi compressed various components: the billboard structure the artist discovered on top of the opposite building of the gallery; the screen wall yingbi he came across in the traditional Chinese garden; and the rammed earth technique he has read about – later heard in the mouths of factory workers – its image leaves one an impression of riverbed sedimentation. The Critical Mass (Inertia’s Basin) has also wedges a variety forms of “molds” into the artist’s conceptual sedimentation: the making of bronze bell, the riverside reinforcement, and potentially the dam if seeing the room for water as a negative space; its subtitle refers to the force known as rotational inertia, which slows down the rotation of the Earth carried out by the massive weight of the water the Three Gorges Dam has gathered.
This planetary consequence has triggered Födinger to travel into the midst of Yangtze River, resulting with the Critical Mass Photo Series. Each site of the landslide was lukewarmly taken, as if it’s the documentation of a piece of land art, and we are shown with a tranquil or even pastoral quality of the catastrophe. On top of the Yangtze River as a potential reference for the works in the gallery, the exhibition extends its territory by re-opening the riverside French windows. The framed scenery for Födinger is not only a mirror that faces the framed photographs, but links to the outdoor pieces Lureleï and the Pile Dwelling for Lureleï, together create an alternative guidance to the art space for the passers-by. The folklore quality of the titles (Lureleï is a large rock situates beside a bend in Rhine, literally means murmuring, whose echoing quality attracts much attention) leaves a strong contrast to the synthetic surrounding of Suzhou Creek. While the works that are infused with a sense of geo-synthetic have been set together as the web for cross-referencing, Critical Mass draws us to notice an Earthly layer of Anthropocene: a geohistorical era marked by the domination of the human species.
Pile Dwelling for Lureleï
Steel, found object (buoy)
180cm(W) x 180cm(D) x 647cm(H)
440cm(W) x 220cm(D) x 900cm(H)
Lureleï refers to a large rock situates beside a bend in Rhine, literally means murmuring, whose echoing quality attracts much attention. The Lureleï that the artist made for the show borrows the traditional wooden beacon structure erects behind the gallery, facing the Suzhou Creek, which is seen as an alternative route for entering the ehxibition. On the river, there’s Pile Dwelling for Lureleï. The artist installed a steel formwork for concrete tube on top of the base of buoy, which leaves a strong contrast to the synthetic surrounding. It refers to the river landscape the artist has witnessed in his trip to the Yangtze, and the Suzhou Creek after its rehabilitation that finished in 2012.作品信息Information
600cm (W) x 246cm (H) x 203cm (D)
In Fluvial Yingbi, the artist is interested in the architectural elements in various forms: the screen wall yingbi he saw in classical gardens of Suzhou, and the billboard on top of the adjacent building visible from the entrance of the Antenna Space, and the rammed earth, a technique of wall-building he has read and later heard from the craftsmen he was cooperating with. For Födinger, the compression of the rammed earth has its conceptual affinity to the fluvial sedimentation. Entwining two notions into a guiding metaphor, one would find in the sculptural compound with the above-mentioned archetypes molded altogether. The artist accentuates that these signifying sources should not only carry the rhetorical function, but also physically capable of supporting the weight of the work.作品信息Information
Critical Mass (Inertia’s Basin)
Concrete, steel, sleeper
220cm (W) x 220cm (D) x 130cm (H)
The Critical Mass (Inertia’s Basin) also employs the principle of sedimentation, molding a variety of formworks in sculptural and industrial construction into a synthetic hemisphere: the bell founding that often cast on site in pits and the techniques of riverbank reinforcement construction that uses reinforcement steel and concrete. Viewers are able to look at both the inside and the outside of the concrete shell; its configuration resembles the vacuum on the land slopes along the Yangtze River (Critical Mass Photo Series), or even a halved planet; for the artist, the spherical cavity also symbolizes the shape of the dam.作品信息Information
Critical Mass Photo Series
Giclee print on archival paper
75.3cm x 61.7cm (Each / Framed)
The Three Gorges Dam and its geographical impact marked a starting point of Födinger’s research. Unlike many studies look into the humanitarian crises, he features the physical aspect that left the trace on geography: the liquefaction of bank slope, and potentially the planetary rotation. As an installation impounding the water stream, the Three Gorges Dam holds a massive volume of water, its water withheld weight 40 billion tons is reported to be capable of increasing the inertia of the Earthly rotation rate. The photographs from this series unfold the landslides along the Yangtze River, which are documented à la Land Art, rendering the catastrophic wounds in an idyllic tone and rendering the facet beyond humanity. For Födinger, the negative space displayed in these photos is reminiscent of the very moment when a casting is taken out of its mold, whereas the reinforcement construction is redolent of the formwork.作品信息Information