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 and often accompanied by prints pulled directly from the carved surfaces of the boxes themselves. 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 approach tends to lead to a more relational understanding, in which the things and beings of this world can be seen as co-constituent and interdependent.
The black boxes literalize the idea of static building blocks of matter as commentary on where we are today in the study of science and physics. The identity of Die Kunstkammer is not dependent upon stasis. 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 one form.
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 process, I frequently pull prints from the box engravings as documentation. All the objects are covered in black enamel with lines and creases painted in white to speak to drawing, drafting, research, science.