Karsten Födinger

Domestic Wildcards

30.08.14 – 30.10.14 | Opening August 29th 2014, 6 - 9 PM

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Karsten Födinger. Domestic Wildcards
August 30 – October 31, 2014
Pfingstweidstrasse 23 / Welti-Furrer Areal, 8005 Zürich
Opening reception: Friday August 29, 6 – 8 pm
Karsten Födinger's art is prepared for extremes. The young German artist’s inaugural exhibition at RaebervonStenglin in 2010 presented a concrete V-formation in the gallery — a heavyweight structure designed to break the path of an avalanche. For his follow up exhibition, 'Angsteisen' (2012), he filled the entirety of the gallery's floor with an iron lattice, an over-reinforced structure that would make doubly safe a concrete fundament were it to be cast on its floor. At Art Basel Statements later that year he won the Baloise Kunst Preis for with a crystalline configuration of raw wooden beams created to resist the unlikely but possible event of an earthquake. Ready for the low-probability, high impact possibilities thrown up by geography, Födinger’s art also responds directly to its immediate environment.
‘Domestic Wildcards’, Födinger’s third solo exhibition with the gallery, plays with the viewer’s expectations. Both gallery spaces are filled with pillar pedestals, each made with different techniques and to different designs and specifications. These are built in part out of the heavy-duty construction materials that have become a signature of his work — reinforced concrete, steel, brick and wood — but unusually also employ substances better suited for model-making: plywood, wood-filler, chipboard and paint. Presented like a body of classical sculptures, these works give the immediate impression of being more domesticated than his previous projects, yet their raison d’être is the opposite of tame. The sculptures grew out of an unrealisable idea Födinger first proposed for the inaugural exhibition at RaebervonStenglin which has become an on-going quest for the artist: to remove an existing pillar of a gallery and replace it with a substitute structure — an Atlas-like sculpture that would bear the weight of the overlying part of the architecture. The new works are just such substitute structures, except in that they are now denied of any functionality, plinths that have supplanted the part of sculpture. They are ‘wildcards’ in the sense that the fitness for their purpose is untellable like jokers in a pack; ‘domestic’ in their promise of servitude, or suggesting a similarity to the racing cyclists who create the slipstream for another to gain the lead.
Blurring the distinction between art and engineering, Födinger’s sculptures employ formal vocabularies that are at once structural and related to art history. There is a dialectic of forces at work in his art, a simultaneous coming together of opposing physical energies and a variety of visual languages. Recalling the pedestals of antiquity encountered in museums, the forms of these pseudo-utilitarian sculptures refers to Minimalist and Process-based art and to the broader aesthetics of Modernism, each reference deliberately complicated by the other. In bringing these opposites together, ‘Domestic Wildcards’ points towards doubt and absurdity, reverberating with acute twenty-first century sense of ambivalence.
Karsten Födinger was born in 1978 in Mönchengladbach, Germany. He studied at the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste Karlsruhe and lives and works in Karlsruhe. His solo museum exhibitions include ‘Struttin’’, Kunstforum Baloise, Basel (2013); ‘Collection display: 14. Baloise Art Prize’, Galerie der Gegenwart, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg (2013); ‘Void’, KIOSK, Ghent (2012); ‘C30/37; XD1, XF2’, Kunsthalle St. Gallen (2012); and ‘Cantilever’, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2011). His previous exhibitions at RaebervonStenglin were ‘Angsteisen’ (2012) and ‘Grand opening at RaebervonStenglin’ (2010). He is the recipient of the 2012 Baloise Kunst-Preis, Art 43 Basel Statements. 


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