Contact Karim Shuquem, artist, Los Angeles
Using the historic phenomenon of kunstkammers - also known as wunderkammers, the so-called cabinets of curiosities - in which European collectors would display acquired objects, this installation serves as a vehicle for examining how metaphysical frameworks determine our personal immersion and interaction with our environment and each other. These randomly curated objects, many of non-European origins collected during colonial campaigns, were presented as decontextualized curiosities.
Die Kunstkammer is an ongoing and evolving sculptural installation made up of individually painted, carved, and stacked wine crates interspersed with various found objects. My contention is that a metaphysics that defines the physicality of objects as made up of dead matter alone, enables the type of collection, hierarchical categorization, and exploitation of resources that occurs within an imperialistic framework. Never fixed or finished, the overall project is inspired by the process-based metaphysics of thinkers such as Deleuze, Alfred North Whitehead, and Heraclitus.. A process-oriented world-view leads to a more relational understanding, in which the things and beings of this world are seen as co-constituent and interdependent.
In a manner of poking fun, the black boxes literalize the idea of static building blocks of matter and have the macabre appearance of a memorial to the dead. Die Kunstkammer is in fact not a static sculpture and very much undead.
I emphasize the inherent relationality of a process-based metaphysics by letting the site of the sculpture influence the form. The arrangement changes with every showing; it is a shape-shifting sculpture that is never stuck in the same position. Through my immersion in assembling Die Kunstkammer, I underline an internal animation that comes with the act of stacking. Objects and engravings are hidden from sight while others are revealed. Electronic candles and figurines are interspersed throughout. Light emanates from cracks and gaps within the boxes. As the facilitator of this eternal becoming, I frequently pull prints from the carved boxes to further expand the form, expand the possibilities of transformation within matter, and to document the process itself.