Karl Karner: Brutbladd _ the horse eats with me

19 October - 20 November 2021
  • KARL KARNER

    BRUTBLADD _ THE HORSE EATS WITH ME
  •  
    The title of Karl Karner´s new group of works is given by the Bryophyllum (Brutblatt), also called "Goethe's plant". The poet, thinker and natural scientist from Weimar sought the divine in this plant and called it, due to its unusual propagation, the „pantheistic" plant.
     
    In Karner's new series, the Brutblatt plants appear in a mythically-inspired, installative setting in which a network of medial and material-technical allusions and references unfolds. A sensorially dense play of confusion unfolds between anthropomorphic aluminum casts, grotesquely overdrawn cephalopods, obscure string people and cartoonish pumpkin-head chimeras, fire bowls and planters in which things grow, wither, burn, smoke and smell. Karner mixes materials and substances, stripped of their former functional frames of meaning, into paradoxical (in)structures of meaning.
  • Brutbladd

    _ the horse eats with me
    • Karl Karner UKKO, 2021 aluminium, silicone, concrete, moss, plant 70 x 75 cm, height 237 cm
      Karl Karner
      UKKO, 2021
      aluminium, silicone, concrete, moss, plant
      70 x 75 cm, height 237 cm
    • Karl Karner L LI ~, 2020 aluminium with silicone 170 x 100 x 120 cm base: 41 cm height
      Karl Karner
      L LI ~, 2020
      aluminium with silicone
      170 x 100 x 120 cm
      base: 41 cm height
    • Karl Karner Blue Night Lumes, 2021 Aluminium 120 x 110 cm, height 360 cm
      Karl Karner
      Blue Night Lumes, 2021
      Aluminium
      120 x 110 cm, height 360 cm
    • Karl Karner ☼ fmf ☼, 2021 bronze, aluminium, copper rust, stones 200 x 260 cm, height. 318 cm
      Karl Karner
      ☼ fmf ☼, 2021
      bronze, aluminium, copper rust, stones
      200 x 260 cm, height. 318 cm
    • Karl Karner & Sara Chinello cullture lloove, 2021 Aluminium , Plexiglas , Kunststoff , Chemie , Holz , Anzünder , Erde , Spinne ,Wolle 86 x 90 x 80 cm 33 7/8 x 35 3/8 x 31 1/2 in
      Karl Karner & Sara Chinello
      cullture lloove, 2021
      Aluminium , Plexiglas , Kunststoff , Chemie , Holz , Anzünder , Erde , Spinne ,Wolle
      86 x 90 x 80 cm
      33 7/8 x 35 3/8 x 31 1/2 in
    • Karl Karner the horse eats with me, 2021 Aluminium, spider web, concrete, moss approx. 95 x 105, height approx. 233 cm
      Karl Karner
      the horse eats with me, 2021
      Aluminium, spider web, concrete, moss
      approx. 95 x 105, height approx. 233 cm
  • Broodleaf: [bot. Bryophyllum], also called Goethe's plant; forms brood buds on leaf margins.

    Broodleaf: [bot. Bryophyllum], also called Goethe's plant; forms brood buds on leaf margins.

    Sometimes nature breaks into our lives as a catastrophe, a tidal wave, a forest fire. Sometimes it happens more quietly and it sneaks into the apartment as an ant on a badly shaken out picnic blanket. But always they are strange encounters, sometimes they are brutal, sometimes irritating, sometimes funny. What happens in these encounters? Do two irreconcilable opposites meet here - man vs. nature? Or do they form together something mysterious third? An ant trail in a Meissen porcelain sugar cup. A pink poodle in a barber shop. A brood leaf growing from a mixture of humus, aspirin and cleaning sponge.

     

    Where man begins, the natural ceases. It does not stop being: nature is unmistakably there, with all its power, beauty and destructiveness. We have a body, a digestion, a sexuality - all this is undeniably natural. Only it is no longer natural to us. Our nature is a mystery to us. Man comes into the world with vestigial drives that pull him in no clear direction. What is he to do with his long limbs? Swing through the trees like a monkey? Take to the skies? Kafka writes in his diary, ‘How distant to me are the muscles of the arms’. If you look at them too intently, your limbs turn into absurdly long spider legs. The body becomes a bug. A foreign body that we must laboriously make our own again.

     

  • Nothing is natural to us, but that means, conversely, that nothing is unnatural to us. Man is a deficient being...

    Installation View, Karl Karner, Brutbladd _ the horse eats with me, 2021

    Nothing is natural to us, but that means, conversely, that nothing is unnatural to us. Man is a deficient being and thus becomes a Freudian prosthetic god. He must go beyond himself and create aids for himself. Even chimpanzees use little sticks to fish termites out of their burrows. But Daedalus even constructs wings for himself and his son Icarus out of branches, feathers and wax.

     

    Since nature has not fixed us to a particular purpose in dealing with it - like the bee to making honey - we can use it for the most diverse purposes. This is precisely the interface at which human culture emerges. Not out of nothing, as a rigid opposition to nature, but in its formation. Even if today's cultural objects in their highly engineered form, with their aluminum casings and chips, appear to us as artifacts completely alien to nature, they are all based on the principle of misappropriation, the picking out of natural objects and transferring them into a new context. Just as the Flintstone family uses a poor woodpecker as the pickup for their Stone Age record player.

     

     But one of the most important acts of such cultural intervention in nature is considered to be the taming of fire. Charles Darwin calls this achievement "probably the greatest discovery with the exception of language." And who knows, maybe the two went hand in hand. Around the fire our ancestors gathered, rested from the hunt, and told each other stories. By the fire, our culture was born. And not just because cooking food allows for greater brain growth. The act of making fire itself is a special act that turns the relationship between man and nature upside down.

     

  • Similar to the biblical story of the tree of knowledge, the origin of culture is described here as a kind...

    Karl Karner, the horse eats with me, 2021

    Similar to the biblical story of the tree of knowledge, the origin of culture is described here as a kind of fall, as an act of transgression. Philosophers read this transgression against the divine commandment as man's stepping out of the natural context of instincts. The instinct that commands flight in the face of fire is not obeyed. Fire is not met with fear, but with curiosity and the spirit of discovery. The spark of human consciousness is ignited by the fire.

     

    To remain in the image, this would also mean again: The spirit does not burn just like that. It needs a fuel. The body, matter, protrudes into the spirit, grows moss, leaves behind cobwebs, impurities. It is precisely these impurities that make consciousness possible in the first place.

     

    An unpolluted mind would correspond to a perfect white surface, in which all shapes are potentially contained: a white square, a white circle, a white, fantastic castle, you name it - only that none of them could be perceived. It takes a grain of black - a handful of rhino dung - to get the game of shapes going. Now, except for a return to a fictional primordial state of purity and control, anything is possible. Now a wild game of opposites unfolds, producing amorphous figures, chimeras and comic-like faces. A blazing fire that consumes and reignites itself. A plant that produces offspring at its leaf tips and multiplies endlessly. A play of matter that can never be fully grasped in its mysteriousness, that wants to be given meaning and yet is never fully absorbed in it, because there is always a residue that resists understanding - like a double D at the end of a word: Brutbladd.

     

    Text by Lea Wintterlin 

     

  • ABOUT THE ARTIST

    ABOUT THE ARTIST

    Karl Karner (b.1973 in Feldbach, Austria) lives and works in Feldbach, Austria. Karner studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna under Professor Heimo Zobernig.

     
    Selected Exhibitions: ‚AFFUS II’, Kunsthalle Feldbach, 2020; ‚AFFUS’, Galerie Kandlhofer, Wien, 2019; 'rhabarber schwarz', Artdepot Gallery, Innsbruck, 2018; 'getting down on knees and nerves‘ Collaboration with Nana Mandl, Kunsthalle Graz, 2018; 'Spiel gerade Höllentor', Galerie Lisa Kandlhofer, 2016; 'Nude Program', ABContemporary, 2016; 'Lungball', Galerie Lendl, 2016 und 'FakeFukoo', ABContemporary, 2015.