Advertisement

Karl Holmqvist and Klara Lidén

Kunstverein Braunschweig, Germany

The Latin inscription ‘Salve Hospes’ glimmers above the entrance of the Kunstverein Braunschweig. The phrase, meaning ‘Greetings, guest’, is a throwback to the building’s former life as a private merchant’s house, but it’s also a motto that Karl Holmqvist and Klara Lidén have taken to heart in their dual exhibition ‘Werk’ (Work). Hanging in the rotunda that precedes the main gallery space, for example, is the collaboratively authored Untitled (BLEIBE) (Stay, 2016), a rotating cardboard box pieced together with packaging tape and printed with phrases of welcome in different languages: ‘WIR SAGEN WILLKOMMEN/BIENVENUE’.

klara_liden_and_karl_holmqvist_untitled_bleibe_2016_installation_view_kunstverein_braunschweig_2016._courtesy_the_artists_photograph_stefan_stark

Klara Lidén and Karl Holmqvist, Untitled (BLEIBE), 2016, installation view, Kunstverein Braunschweig, 2016. Courtesy: the artists; photograph: Stefan Stark

Karl Holmqvist and Klara Lidén, Untitled (BLEIBE), 2016, installation view, Kunstverein Braunschweig, 2016. Courtesy: the artists; photograph: Stefan Stark

In the ground floor galleries, the hospitality theme is extended by Holmqvist’s Untitled (Blanket I’N’I’N’I’) (2016), a black and white coverlet spread across a low plinth on which visitors can recline. Similarly, for her three new sculptures, Lidén built seats into metal fence panels. Large and hardwearing, these panels are of the kind used in urban areas to delineate places of no entry. The artist asks us to resist our instincts and, instead, come around to the rear of the fence to lie back against a jute pillow, perhaps to admire the view of the garden outside. The sculptures, including Chaise Zaun (2016), are in keeping with Lidén’s strategy of misusing ‘found’ (or stolen) objects sourced from public spaces and presenting them in a gallery setting. Here, they can be seen alongside other works in which the artist strips found objects of their original ‘use’ value, such as Untitled (Poster Painting) (2010): a stack of street advertisements with all the information whited out. These new pieces extend the notion of hospitality into an invitation to be a conspirator in one of Lidén’s acts of transformative vandalism.

Klara Lidén and Karl Holmqvist, 'WERK', 2016, exhibition view, Kunstverein Braunschweig. Courtesy: the artists Galerie Neu, Berlin; photograph: Stefan Stark

Klara Lidén and Karl Holmqvist, 'WERK', 2016, exhibition view, Kunstverein Braunschweig. Courtesy: the artists Galerie Neu, Berlin; photograph: Stefan Stark

Karl Holmqvist and Klara Lidén, 'WERK', 2016, exhibition view, Kunstverein Braunschweig. Courtesy: the artists Galerie Neu, Berlin; photograph: Stefan Stark

Upstairs, Holmqvist’s excellent video, I’M WITH YOU IN ROCKLAND (2005), mixes pop lyrics with lines borrowed from Allen Ginsberg’s 1955 ‘Howl’ (the title is a quote from the poem) to create a strange but captivating dada-esque sound poem. Frequent use of repetition in the video, as well as the deliberate misplacement of stress on certain syllables and words, destabilizes the familiarity the audience has with these famous lines. Shown alongside the artist’s white on black text canvases, such as Untitled (Bang <3) (2016), the work evokes literary movements including concrete poetry and lettrism and hints at the radical potential of wordplay.

Karl Holmqvist, left: Untitled (OHNEOBEN), 2016; right: Untitled (Sign Painting), 2016, installation view, Kunstverein Braunschweig, 2016. Courtesy: the artist and Galerie Neu, Berlin; photograph: Stefan Stark

Karl Holmqvist, left: Untitled (OHNEOBEN), 2016; right: Untitled (Sign Painting), 2016, installation view, Kunstverein Braunschweig, 2016. Courtesy: the artist and Galerie Neu, Berlin; photograph: Stefan Stark

Karl Holmqvist, left: Untitled (OHNEOBEN), 2016; right: Untitled (Sign Painting), 2016, installation view, Kunstverein Braunschweig, 2016. Courtesy: the artist and Galerie Neu, Berlin; photograph: Stefan Stark

Ultimately, however, like the situationists before them, Lidén and Holmqvist are more tricksters than activists. Nhite Woise (2016), the second of the two collaborative works in the exhibition, shows the artists dancing to Silentó’s 2015 hit ‘Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)’. It’s a funny and irreverent video, made even more so by the fact that it’s projected within a cardboard construction devised by Lidén, which itself ‘squats’ in the middle of the Kunstverein’s grandest room. Demonstrating the artists’ mutual interest in the hacking of cultural products, as well as in the reclaiming of public space, the work also points to their distinct artistic personas: Lidén is wearing the overalls of a manual worker while Holmqvist (who in 2015 modelled for the Italian designer Brioni) looks elegant and untouchable in black. The two largely ignore one other as they complete the dance routine, causing amusing variations in their moves due to discrepancies in memory and ability. Like teenagers who post clips of themselves impersonating pop stars on YouTube, Nhite Woise is both an homage and a testament to individuality. 

Chloe Stead is a writer and critic based in Berlin.

Issue 184

First published in Issue 184

Jan - Feb 2017
Advertisement

Most Read

Why does the ‘men’s rights’ guru to the alt-right surround himself with Soviet-era memorabilia, which he doesn’t even...
Alongside a centuries-old collection of Old Masters, Delftware and Chinoiserie, the Devonshires continue to commission...
In a Victorian-era baths in Glasgow, the artist stages her largest performance project to date, featuring a 24-woman...
In further news: UK class gap impacting young people’s engagement with the arts; Uffizi goes digital; British Museum...
Italian politicians want to censor the artist’s poster for a sailing event, which reads ‘We’re all in the same boat’
A newly-published collection of the artist’s journals allows silenced voices to speak
The arrest of the photojournalist for ‘provocative comments’ over Dhaka protests makes clear that personal liberty...
The auction house insists that there is a broad scholarly consensus that the record-breaking artwork be attributed to...
‘We need more advocates across gender lines and emphatic leaders in museums and galleries to create inclusive,...
In further news: artists rally behind detained photographer Shahidul Alam; crisis talks at London museums following...
Criticism of the show at the Hungarian National Gallery in Budapest comes alongside a nationalist reshaping of the...
A retrospective at Munich’s Museum Brandhorst charts the artist’s career from the 1980s to the present, from ‘fem-trash...
At the National Theatre of Wales, a performance alive with wild, tactile descriptions compels comparison between the...
There are perils in deploying bigotry to score political points, but meanings also shift from West to East
‘It’s ridiculous. It’s Picasso’: social media platform to review nudity policy after blocking Montreal Museum of Fine...
The first public exhibition of a 15th-century altar-hanging prompts the question: who made it?
Poland’s feminist ‘Bison Ladies’ storm the Japanese artist’s Warsaw exhibition in solidarity with longtime model Kaori’...
An art historian and leading Leonardo expert has cast doubt on the painting’s attribution
How will the Black Panther writer, known for his landmark critical assessments of race, take on the quintessential...
The dissident artist has posted a series of videos on Instagram documenting diggers demolishing his studio in the...
In further news: artists for Planned Parenthood; US court rules on Nazi-looted Cranachs; Munich’s Haus der Kunst...
A mother’s death, a father’s disinterest: Jean Frémon’s semi-factual biography of the artist captures a life beyond...
Jostling with its loud festival neighbours, the UK’s best attended annual visual art festival conducts a polyphonic...
It’s not clear who destroyed the project – part of the Liverpool Biennial – which names those who have died trying to...
Dating from 1949 to the early 1960s, the works which grace the stately home feel comfortable in the ostentatious pomp...
Nods to the game in World Cup celebrations show how dance has gone viral – but unwittingly instrumentalized for...

On View

Latest Magazines

frieze magazine

April 2018

frieze magazine

May 2018

frieze magazine

June - August 2018