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In his films, photographs and sculptures, Kay Walkowiak draws on formal languages of Western art and cultural history found in the common picture archive and – following a modus of drawing playful contrasts – relates them to everyday situations in various cultural contexts, particularly those of the Asian region. He thereby exposes divergent spatial and temporal concepts, explores the cultural character of perception and deciphers visual forms as projection surfaces of narratives of Western cultural history and the utopias associated with them.

Rituals of Resistance

Since the Renaissance monkeys have been regarded as symbols of art. „Ars simia naturae“, art is the monkey of nature. An illustration of this Latin saying can be seen, for example, in a painting by Giovanni Bellini in Milan‘s Brera: A monkey sits on a pedestal in the background of the painting on which the painter has affixed his signature.
Since the 1950s there have been attempts to test the creativity of monkeys, since a time in which tachism and gestural painting broke the laws of form and artistic creativity was lost in control and carefree spontaneity. was suspected. Usually minimalism as a means of distance. The aesthetics of reduction seem to rest on rationality and the ability to analyze, which is why these types of art are regarded as opposed to immediate and carefree experience. And yet the carefree handling of the material by the monkeys teaches a different lesson.
With reference to the early history of visual colonial ethnography at the beginning of the 20th century, in which photography was used as a research tool, the establishment and composition of „Rituals of Resistance“ reconstructs this style of documentation. The monkeys degrade the minimalist Western artworks as mere objects by dwelling on them in lofty-looking „rituals of resistance“: They occupy the glory of the supposedly higher intellectual culture of the West.

Unscripted Deviations

The utopias that Walkowiak examines in his works have been given an architectural form in the planned city of Chandigarh, India. Chandigarh was built in the mid- 1950s, after India had regained its independence from Great Britain, to plans by the Swiss-born architect Le Corbusier. At the time of its construction, the city – whose design was based on elementary geometric forms, characterised by steel and concrete and guided by the principle of functionality – was regarded as symbolic of India’s striving for modernity.
Although today the planned city, whose concept was committed to the idea of establishing a new Indian social order, is seen as an explicit example of Eurocentric imperialism, Walkowiak’s works do not formulate a criticism of the utopian visions expressed by the buildings’ architecture and the interior design. Rather, his video works expose these ideas by illuminating the way the city is used by the Indian population – which often runs counter to the conception of the city – and by contrasting the idea, inherent to the architecture, of a “timelessness of form” with the decay of the city.
Chandigarh’s increasing deterioration – which reveals itself in, among other things, nature’s creeping reconquest of its buildings – is addressed by Kay Walkowiak in the photographs of the 2017 series Unscripted Deviations. These images show close-up shots of blackened, cracked façades in which the monsoon rains have left their marks and wasps have nested. With its hexagonlike honeycomb structure, the wasps’ nest as a natural form of “architecture” seems to evoke the planned city of Chandigarh and its strict division into individual sections just as much as it contradicts it. The exhibited photographs – resemble vanitas depictions of the utopian visions associated with Chandigarh.


Waterfall tells the story of a young woman who is in love with Marcel Duchamp and sets off in search of the artist’s spirit in a Taiwanese city and its environs. In the individual sequences of the film, the woman – seemingly without realising it herself – not only becomes a personification of motifs from Duchamp’s works; even her day-to-day life is increasingly interwoven with themes from the artist’s aesthetic and intellectual world, which is subtly superimposed over her surroundings like a second plane of reality.
In the video Duchamp’s spirit permeates the young woman’s presence, possessing potent power in the now despite the artist’s absence. The film thereby lends a lyrical expression to a phenomenon for which Jacques Derrida coined the term hauntology: the ghost-like, cyclical return in the present of what is actually absent.
This phenomenon is addressed by Kay Walkowiak at the very beginning of Waterfall by means of a close-up view of a phonograph record and the associated symbolism of the rotating circular shape. The record’s label is a reference to Marcel Duchamp’s 1935 work Rotoreliefs, thus identifying the artist as that ghost “whose expected return repeats itself, again and again.” Walkowiak’s video work follows this “logic of haunting” and shows the protagonist in various everyday situations in which she attempts to summon Duchamp’s spirit through rituals rooted in her cultural context, but which also suggest works or thoughts of the artist.
In one scene, for example, the young woman performs a Chinese tea ceremony on the rooftop of her building. The positioning of the teacups corresponds to the arrangement of the holes in the urinal of Duchamp’s 1917 Fountain, probably his most famous readymade. But the cups, which the protagonist fills with milk, also recall the “malic molds” of what Duchamp called the “Bachelor Machine” in the lower section of his La Mariée mise à nu par ses célibataires, même (Le Grand Verre) [The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass)] from 1915-1923. While the “malic molds” are, according to Duchamp, filled with illuminating gas, the alternative use of milk has symbolic meaning as well: placed next to the depiction of the “bride” in the upper section of Duchamp’s work is the so-called “Milky Way.” This kind of penetration of both cultural and temporal stratifications characterizes all the scenes in this film, whether it is the woman laying out the round pieces of a Chinese chess game in a park – hoping to thereby enter into a dialogue with the passionate chess player Duchamp – or whether she is shown cleaning a temple figure whose distinctive face painting recalls Duchamp’s 1919 readymade L.H.O.O.Q., in which the artist added a mustache and pointed beard to a postcard reproduction of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. In one of the film’s final scenes, the young woman sits in a decrepit hotel with broken, dirty panorama windows that again evoke Duchamp’s Large Glass, while in the background the eponymous waterfall can be seen.
Waterfall approaches the question of how we love: Do we love the person or the qualities of a person? Do we just love without wanting something in return or are we longing for a feeling of being loved? What or how do we love if we love someone who might not be existing with a solid physical body anymore?

Case Study Object (#1)

Kay Walkowiak approaches the question of the timelessness and narrative conceivability of form on the basis of the differing culture-historical mentalities of East and West. “The traveler leaves no trace because he keeps pace with the movement of things,” is the comment of the philosopher Byung-Chul Han on an old Chinese saying, and thereby refers to a Far Eastern tradition of the relationship with form that, in contrast with the Western form, primarily conceived of as substance, is oriented to real absence. Walkowiak sounds out the historically and socio-culturally characterised approach to form and questions its functional positing as a projection surface for timeless utopias. The traveler abides for a moment between being and becoming. Form loses its substance and, through its emptiness, space expands: everything hangs in the balance between concrete reality and absolute utopia.



ZONE 1 curated by Victoria Dejaco


Charlotte Klobassa, born 1987 in Vienna, studied painting at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. She lives and works in Vienna and Berlin. 

These are fictitious, poetic journeys Charlotte Klobassa takes you on. A grid familiar from practice books in which one writes and scribbles. Plinths reminiscent of Greek columns and leaning against the wall serve as supports for the paintings. An open hut covered with raffia, which could be an information booth. As soon as one gets involved with places and collects memories, these become a part of life that shape and leave imprints. Comparable to the forays of the artist Charlotte Klobassa through the leaves, on which she finds foreign handwriting, which she makes her own through an intensive examination in the painting process. 

Oversized brushstrokes, melting drops of paint, strong and shy lines. Charlotte Klobassa composes personal and individual images from the handwriting of unknown consumers; they tell of spontaneous actions of strangers, which the artist tracks down, processes, reinterprets and brings to the canvas. Sketching papers for trying out pencils collected from art and office supplies serve the artist as a model for her painting. 

The charm of the unknown, the fantasising about intentions, thoughts and moods, the interpretation of forms, all these components influence the character of the paintings. The painter enters into a role-play which consists both of her preference for tracking down, observing and discovering strangers and on the other hand of choreographic, creative action and the creation of these delightful compositions. The abstract seeming pictures consist in reality of neatly painted elements, of imitated figurative subjects. They owe their lightness precisely to this contrast, which makes the composition expressive yet delicate. Flat, strong elements are broken through and accentuated by fine accents. One recognizes strong, self-confident strokes, thick and strong pencils, but also shy tryouts and doubtful lines. 

From her repertoire of collected slips of paper, the painter assembles fragments and puts them into something immanent to her. In the sense of Claude Levi-Strauss, this method of working and each resulting work of art is a bricolage (of French bricoler tinkering around, fiddling together) of the found material. Her affinity for anonymous authorship gives rise to the process of analysing of the tryouts, which subsequently enables the painter to develop her own vocabulary: new large-format compositions emerge from the chaotic scribbles. Similar to learning a foreign language, the acquisition of foreign handwriting and forms is the starting point for the artistic process. This is also reminiscent of Wassily Kandinsky, who in his book Punkt und Linie zu Fläche (Point and Line to Surface) attempts to analyze the essence of painting and to break it down into its basic elements. 

Enlarging and distorting, Klobassa imitates painterly elements on the canvas, which she selects from innumerable collected templates and sets in a new context. Strokes, lines, numbers, whole words or lettering, as well as comic-like subjects - all forgotten, abandoned scribbles, insignificant impressions. They are scanned, identified, categorised and compiled in order to enter into new relationships with each other. The result is a game with classical painterly genres - on closer inspection, supposed abstraction becomes a portrait or landscape, expressiveness a realistic representationalism, coincidentally a pathetic gesture. 

Alice von Alten 

Charlotte Klobassa, geboren 1987 in Wien, studierte Malerei an der Universität für angewandte Kunst in Wien. Sie lebt und arbeitet in Wien und Berlin. 

Es sind fiktive, poetische Reisen auf welche Charlotte Klobassa mitnimmt. Ein Raster, das man aus Schulheften kennt, in denen man schreibt und kritzelt. Sockel, die an griechische Säulen erinnern und an die Wand gelehnt als Stütze für die Bilder dienen. Eine mit Bast gedeckte offene Hütte, die ein Infostand sein könnte. Sobald man sich auf Orte einlässt und Erinnerungen sammelt, werden diese ein Teil des Lebens, welcher prägt und formt. Vergleichbar mit den Streifzügen der Künstlerin Charlotte Klobassa durch die Blätter, auf denen sie fremde Handschriften findet, welche sie sich durch eine intensive Auseinandersetzung im Malprozess zu eigen macht. 

Überdimensionierte Pinselstriche, zerlaufende Farbtropfen, starke und schüchterne Linien. Charlotte Klobassa komponiert aus der Handschrift unbekannter Konsumenten persönliche und individuelle Bilder, sie erzählen von spontanen Handlungen Fremder, welche die Künstlerin aufspürt, sie verarbeitet und neu interpretiert auf die Leinwand bringt. Im Kunstfachhandel und Bürobedarf gesammelte Schmierzettel zum Probieren von Stiften dienen der Künstlerin als Vorlage ihrer Malerei. 

All diese Komponenten, der Charme des Unbekannten, das Phantasieren über Intentionen, Gedanken und Stimmungen, und das wiederum Interpretieren von Formen prägen den Charakter der Bilder. Die Malerin tritt in ein Rollenspiel, welches sowohl aus ihrer Vorliebe für das Aufspüren, Beobachten und Entdecken von Fremdem und andererseits aus dem choreographischen, schöpferischen Handeln und dem Erzeugen dieser reizvollen Kompositionen besteht. Die abstrakt anmutenden Bilder, bestehen in Wirklichkeit aus feinsäuberlich nachgemalten Elementen, aus imitierten gegenständlichen Sujets. Ihre Leichtigkeit verdanken sie eben diesem Kontrast, welcher die Komposition ausdrucksstark aber dennoch zart macht. Flächige, kräftige Elemente werden durchbrochen und hervorgehoben durch feine Akzente. Man erkennt starke, selbstbewusste Striche, dicke und kräftige Stifte, aber auch schüchterne Proben und zweifelnde Linien. 

Aus ihrem Repertoire an gesammelten Zetteln fügt die Malerin Bruchstücke dessen zusammen und macht sie zu etwas ihr Immanenten. Im Sinne von Claude Levi-Strauss ist diese Arbeitsweise und jedes dabei entstehende Kunstwerk eine Bricolage (von frz. bricoler herumbasteln, zusammenfummeln) aus dem gefundenen Material. Das Faible für die anonyme Urheberschaft lässt den Prozess des Analysierens der Proben entstehen, welcher es der Malerin ermöglicht ein eigenes Vokabular zu entwickeln, mit Hilfe dessen aus den chaotischen Kritzeleien neue großformatige Kompositionen entstehen. Vergleichbar mit dem Erlernen einer fremden Sprache ist hier das Aneignen fremder Handschriften und Formen der Ausgangspunkt für den künstlerischen Prozess. Dies erinnert auch an Wassily Kandinsky, welcher in seinem Buch Punkt und Linie zu Fläche versucht die Malerei in ihrem Wesen zu analysieren und sie in ihre grundlegenden Elemente zerlegt. 

Vergrößert und verzerrt imitiert Klobassa auf der Leinwand malerische Elemente, die sie aus unzähligen, gesammelten Vorlagen auswählt und in einen neuen Dialog setzt. Striche, Linien, Zahlen, ganze Wörter oder Schriftzüge, sowie comichafte Sujets – allesamt vergessene, liegengelassene Kritzeleien, unbedeutende Abdrücke. Sie werden gescannt, identifiziert, kategorisiert und zusammengetragen um miteinander neue Beziehungen einzugehen. Es entsteht ein Spiel mit klassischen malerischen Genres– vermeintliche Abstraktion wird bei genauerem Hinsehen zu Portrait oder Landschaft, Expressivität zu realistischer Gegenständlichkeit, Zufall zur pathetischen Geste. 

Alice von Alten 



ZONE 1 curated by Marlies Wirth


In a new space-filling installation, Kay Walkowiak is discussing and renegotiating the intimate network of relationships between subject and art object as a power structure of desire and aversion.

Through the art history of painting, primary materials such as canvas and paint, traditionally covered with meaning, form the elementary components of his sculptural objects, which he conceives as a set display for the viewer and subsequently open up a choreography of references to the canon of forms in minimalist painting.

In einer neuen raumgreifenden Installation stellt Kay Walkowiak das intime Beziehungsgeflecht als Machtgefüge aus Begehren und Aversion zwischen Subjekt und Kunstobjekt zur Diskussion und verhandelt es neu. 

Durch die Kunstgeschichte der Malerei traditionell mit Bedeutung belegte Primärmaterialen wie Leinwand und Farbe bilden die elementaren Bestandteile seiner skulpturalen Objekte, die als gesetzte Displays für die Betrachter eine Choreografie der Referenzen auf den Formenkanon der minimalistischen Malerei eröffnen.