The artist and his sister photographed by their father, 1992 / Courtesy of the artist
Tarik Kiswanson: A Century
Jun 8 – Sep 8, 2024
Portikus
Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Delving into both biographical and collective history, in the exhibition A Century, Tarik Kiswanson unearths the complexities of historical events of the last hundred years of war, destruction and regeneration and how these resonate across generations and geographies. His practice spans media ranging from sculpture to drawing and film, and from sound and spatial interventions to poetry. Across various corpus, each work serves as a vessel that carries intricate narratives and transports traces of the past and the present.

Composed of a series of recently conceived sculptures, Kiswanson’s exhibition unfolds in separate chambers formed by two high walls that divide the main gallery of Portikus. As if freed from the constraints of gravity, the first work, which gives the exhibition its title, consists of four entangled wooden walking sticks levitating in midair. The sculpture’s construction, in which all parts are tied to each other in a complex interplay, evokes the whirlwind of historical events that inextricably link and bound one another. The canes Kiswanson included in A Century (2024) originate in a personal collection dating from the 1930s until today. Made to provide support to injured or aging bodies, these objects also hold special meaning for the artist as metaphors of ruptures and traumas of turning points in history.

[ . . . ]

While several of the works in the exhibition can be read as a timeline of selected ruptures across the last century, with Cradle (2023), Kiswanson underscores the inevitable need for reconstruction and renewal. Levitating on the wall, the sculpture takes the form of a cocoon created after the artist’s own body measurements and is a leitmotif in his practice, which alludes to notions of rootlessness and regeneration. Coated in white paint, its color attuned to the light and architectural setting, the work appears as a shelter or a refuge for rebirth. For decades, Kiswanson has given particular attention to the ways in which the movement and perception of visitors can be altered within exhibition spaces. By transforming Portikus’s gallery into a large-scale sculptural environment where different works have been meticulously placed, the artist draws on the rhythmic breaks and punctuations of poetic language to engage both the mind and body of the viewer.

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