Marin Kasimir/Christian Israel

’T Kanaal

Marin Kasimir is a young German artist who has been living and working in Brussels for the past five years. During that time, he has produced pieces for a variety of settings, including galleries, public sites, and the theater. His work, through its transformation of particular spaces and subsequent investment of narrative potential, calls to mind both architectural and filmic concerns. Through the use of columns, benches, and passageways, Kasimir’s work implies an activization of a particular space; oftentimes, the means to that end is through vision and its inherent possibilities of variation.

In “Ovalon,” a work commissioned by the Kanaal Art Foundation, Kasimir has created an installation that develops these themes on a grand scale. Created in conjunction with Christian Israel, a Chilean painter now living in Barcelona, “Ovalon” takes as its subject perspective. Situated in a large hall on the site of a textile factory, the work closely resembles a maze. It is constructed in the shape of a squared oval, in which one walks around the center of the piece, passing through doorway-like sections which feature paintings stretched across the top. Forming a semicircle within the oval space is the largest painting, done on wooden slats, which depicts a forum-like structure divided into two sections. The facades of the work seem to curve out along the walls of the oval, in a sort of convex mirror image of each other. Finally, in the very center of the installation is a metal bench, with one side completed and the other a series of steel tentacles.

The bench is a recurrent figure in Kasimir’s work and its positioning in the center of “Ovalon,” within a dizzying series of views, seems particularly apt. On the one hand, it functions as an object of distantiation, a point from which the entire space may be viewed. However, as the views multiply, this god-like positioning proves to be illusory. Whether inside or outside, there is no single point from which the spectator can see the work completely. Like the bench that is half completed or the painted facade that reproduces itself, “Ovalon” seems caught in a constant process of completing itself, of providing perspectives through which one can enter.

The paintings executed by both Kasimir and Israel function as the perfect accompaniment to this visionary environment; they are alternately reminiscent of architectural plans and landscapes painted on the side of vans. As one walks through the passageways, the paintings, and their placement throughout the space, sometimes seem cluttered and merely decorative. Yet the sheer volume of images can induce a claustrophobic restriction of vision. Because of this overabundance, one risks losing all perspective or balance. Only by stepping out of the piece, by a retreat to the periphery does one regain a sense of order. Just as an oval can be described as a circle that is being stretched at its edges, “Ovalon” may be seen as a work that aims to expand the notions of completeness and interpretation. In one of Israel’s paintings, the form resembles an eye that has been turned to a horizontal position. It is this instability of fixed viewpoints that lies at the center of “Ovalon’s” space.

Michael Tarantino