In Brief: Heike-Karin Föll at Berlin’s KW Institute for Contemporary Art

The artist’s first institutional exhibition explores her unique system of references

Usually, a table of contents helps you navigate a book. But at Heike-Karin Föll’s ‘speed’ at Berlin’s KW Institute for Contemporary Art, nothing is business as usual. In the first institutional solo exhibition by the Berlin-based artist (who has been making art here for more than 30 years), a table of contents is pinned on the wall like a poster. But the titles don’t quite guide us; instead, they lead us astray with chapters such as ‘all the revolutionary liquids unite’, ‘you selfish bitch’, and ‘the weather in Proust’. Other chapters have been edited or completely redacted with a black marker.

Heike-Karin Föll, Inhaltsverzeichnis (table of contents), 2019, installation view, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin. Courtesy: the artist and KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; photograph: Frank Sperling

Föll creates a network of references with links in various directions – from art history to Berlin street names – that even Ariadne’s thread couldn’t decipher. Like many of the works in the exhibition, the index (Inhaltsverzeichnis, 2019) is part of a series of exquisite artist books Föll has created over the past years. While she initially started working on them because she didn’t have a studio, today the books have emerged as an important part of her œuvre, as one grid, consisting of book pages, drawings and screenshots (my brain, 2010–2019), exposes. Thirteen of her artist books are installed on a wall, but they are untouchable: embedded in acrylic glass cases. We are thus directed towards their covers, which range from Nike trainer boxes to FedEx packaging. Similar to the structuralist idea that meaning arises from systems of signs, the distinctive quality of this exhibition is the web of references that Föll spins, like a spider. Precisely designed, shimmery, intricate and strong, we feel attracted to it like prey.

Heike-Karin Föll, selection of artist books, 2005–2019, installation view, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin. Courtesy: the artist and KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; photofraph: Frank Sperling

Heike-Karin Föll, ‘speed’ runs at KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, until 1 September 2019.

Main image: Heike-Karin Föll, my brain, 2010–19, installation view, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin. Courtesy: the artist and KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; photograph: Frank Sperling

Carina Bukuts is editorial assistant of frieze based in Berlin, Germany. She is co-founder and editor of PASSE-AVANT.

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