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Vasily Klyukin: Civilization
05.08.2021 - 29.08.2021
The Moscow-born artist Vasily Klyukin presents with his show “Civilization. The island of the day before” a condensed view of the universe at the Kunstforum Vienna (curated by Anne Avramut). As in previous shows at the Russian Museum St. Petersburg or Arsenale Nord during the Venice Biennale, Klyukin engages his viewers on a pilgrimage to self-knowledge.
Klyukin works with polycarbonates and steel to design monumental works (up to 6m high) pursuing fundamental themes of the contemporary human: where do we come from, where do we go and especially what is the outcome of this journey? As a long-time advocate for climate protection, Klyukin engages with the collective act of human kind and with the consequences of these actions for our environment and consistently points out that a dystopian outcome, marked in mirages of damnation, loss and futility is the only probable outcome. Hence his figures are inspired on a broad spectrum both on the optics and haptics of burnt woodlands as well as on vibrant natural landscapes and on the explosive chromaticity of digital screens.
Klyukin’s pieces based on numerical data, comprising mathematical formulas and geographic coordinates, unite the precision of physical laws with the artistic impulsive gesture and anthropological reflection on current times.
“Civilization – The island of the day before” is a stroll through Anthropocene – from beginning until end. Klyukin offers a cyclical view on history: harmony followed by disruption, culminating in destruction, and resulting in a new beginning. Before humans, nature is shown by the artist as a harmonic symbiosis of four primal elements: water, air, earth and fire. At the core of Klyukin’s universe is the human ratio – the causa prima for the world as we know it and the key element of disruption that has ultimately sent processes in motion now far beyond reach for the perpetrator. The artist captures the moment when the human being, who has put itself at the center of all creation and has assumed the role of a demiurge, is faced with the irreversible consequences of its own actions. The result is destruction, the legacy a frozen anti-center of inferno, where all molecular motion ceases and all stories end and the product of a 5th primordial element: time. Just like in Umberto Eco’s eponymous book, the protagonist of this exhibition, the human race, is searching for the ultimate solution for its survival and is gazing on this search in the wrong direction, towards the ‘island of the day before’.
The human being and its agency are omnipresent in Klyukin’s work: there has been a longstanding practice of attempting to understand the world by engaging with oneself and through self-awareness. Ernst Cassirer defined-self-awareness as the “Archimedean point” of our reasoning, and meant by that the pivot and rotational point (discovered by Archimedes) that allows a lever to function. Ever since the pre-socratics, the thought has been introduced, that the world at large is not explainable without a deeper knowledge of humans, generally known through the engraving in the narthex if the Apollo Temple in Delphi, which challenges: “γνῶθι σεαυτόν — know thyself!”. Reasoning and the capacity of self-reflection and the resulting self-knowledge is Kylukin’s 6thelement that shapes the world.
Unexpectedly Klyukin employs a temporal twist that overpowers the capabilities of human ratio spotlighting the catastrophic trajectory of human kind : as it turns out the observers gaze is one from the future, looking into the past.
With his sculptures, Klyukin opens up wondrous multiplicities of reading of a world in a fluid state, with a Damocles sword swinging uncomfortably close to our heads.
Curator: Anne Avramut
09/09/2022 - 22/09/2022