Fünfzigzwanzig, Salzburg (AT)

14.03.2018 – 05.05.2018

Karolina Radenković (AT)

In Given: The Haunting Ghost, Kay Walkowiak explores the ways in which ghosts of the past exist in the present and how they manifest themselves in virtual planes of reality. Referring to Marcel Duchamp, Walkowiak opens a cultural dialogue between the concept of "hauntology" by the French philosopher Jacques Derrida and the traditional belief in ghosts and souls in Southeast Asian culture. "Hauntology" as a way of being is an idea that inherently embeds the realm of the past in that of the present - the ghosts of the past coming back to haunt us. Walkowiak uses a formal language firmly rooted in the Western canon and transfers it to other cultural contexts in the form of referential set pieces. In doing so, he is not concerned with setting positive new moods but with dissecting and recomposing existing norms.

Not only is Marcel Duchamp alluded to in the title (Étant donnés: 1° la chute d`eau / 2° le gaz d'éclairage; Given: 1. The waterfall, 2. The illuminating gas, 1946-66) but he is also one of the protagonists in the twenty-minute short film Waterfall (2016), which tells an unusual love story.

A young woman sets out on a journey to find the spirit of the dead artist. The everyday world of the main character is linked to the thoughts and desires of the deceased Duchamp, whose spirit returns to haunt us. The prints Untitled (with us, without us, with itself) (2016) feature checkerboard patterns that seem to refer to Duchamp's beloved strategy game. Like the game, reality is in a constant state of flux between emergence and demise.

We never know what the future has in store happen nor which possibilities will either open or close to us in the next minute. Communication with spirits and souls is a part of daily life in Taiwan, where the artist was invited for a residency. "Bwa Bwei" are moon shaped wooden blocks that serve as a medium in prayer to connect to the world of the deceased. In Untitled (Moon Blocks) (2016), Walkowiak uses 3D-printing to make the moon-shaped wooden blocks appear to float and transit into another dimension. The ceramic object Wedge of Worship (2016) is a slightly modified replica of Duchamp's famous erotic work, Wedge of Chastity (1964), and can be seen as an object of worship - dedicated to the artist's life and work. Walkowiak transformed Duchamp's sculpture into an incense holder of the kind found in temples and shrines in Asia.

The works shown embark on a search for past(s) that have not (yet) reached the present and can thus still influence it. The principle of repetition as an artistic means serves here as an efficient tool to generate contexts and awareness - a guide to an experience - that expand in space and time and are thereby in constant renewal. The context is not necessarily a local one but rather one of a cognitive nature that guides the initiated recipient and rehashes a method to parallel strands of perception.

In the Queer reading, repetitive processes represent possibilities that can lead to ruptures and lapses in the temporal sequence of recurrent acts. This is a concept of appropriation that, according to Butler, sees the site of subversion in the "false" imitation of the norm. [...]

If one considers the concept of an alter ego in an artistic context, various conceptual strategies as well as power and relational relationships are revealed, which range from political necessity - a social dominance by the masculine - to the most intimate transformation processes. In the process, some alter egos open up from a representational-investigative interest and thus remain emotionally on a surface, while other characters transmit profound psychological processes and unite art and life in a Beuysian sense. […]

[The project invites] not only an updating of our knowledge through pasts in the present but also opens up the perspective of previous de- or undecoded states of mind, whose temporalities in turn meet our present context. In doing so, their temporally conditioned understanding in our present consciousness may be analyzable and at best decodable, but by no means captured in a linear treatise.

Text: Karolina Radenković, Fünfzigzwanzig, Salzburg 2018
Photos: (c) Fünfzigzwanzig / Studio Kay Walkowiak

︎ Archive Exhibitions