carlier l gebauer, Berlin

30.04.21 – 12.06.21

Tarik Kiswanson’s third solo exhibition at carlier | gebauer furthers the Swedish-Palestinian artist’s recent investigations into life and death, tranformation and being. In 2017, Kiswanson’s last exhibition at the gallery presented a series of suspended reflective, ever-shifting metal vessels which, by defamiliarizing our perception, also dismembered the illusion of a fixed, finite self.

Surging is attuned to a wider paradigm shift: the loss of grand anthropocentric narratives and the crisis of human singularity. A speculative act of worldbuilding, the exhibition leads into an elsewhere. In the redesigned gallery space, we arrive through a narrow entry in the main room. At first, it is unclear whether this transfixed environment, achromatic as if bloodless, indicates an ongoing catabolic suffocation or the premises of a new birth.

It is, however, not devoid of life. Two ovoid forms, at once enigmatic and weirdly familiar, occupy the surroundings: one is nested inside a doorframe (Cradle), another perched above the opposite entrance (Nest). While their form evokes the natural world – a chrysalis or a grain – their eerie human-sized scale brings to mind a constructed shelter.

Spanning the artist’s multifaceted practice, an ensemble of works from recent series show various states of stasis. Trapped in translucent resin, a candle melts away mid-air (Respite) while fleeting, powdery charcoal drawings (The Window) display children lingering at the threshold of visibility. X-ray scans of ancient and contemporary garments – overlapping or absent – (Rising Opacity; Passing) transform scientific imagery into a poetic multiplicity or a pitch-black void (As- sembled Opacity), while collages juxtapose ancient etchings of catastrophes around a central ellipsis hovering over human-made history (Seeds; Traveler).

Kiswanson’s previous works extended the transient experience of a second-generation migrant to the condition of the present-day individual: one increasingly left to navigate a set of tumultuous, global realities. In turn, Surging delineates an uncertain yet familiar shared context, one not unlike a waiting room, where beings – their heritage as much as their bodies – are left to adapt and evolve. What is born remains in transit, what takes shapes can only survive afloat.

Text by Ingrid Luquet-Gad.