The current exhibition is titled Mem, after the thirteenth letter of the Phoenician alphabet that represents the element of water - the waved line, a symbol of water in the art of the ancient Orient, portrays the pictographic and figurative origin of its writing system. Mem compels an alliance of image, meaning and sound: recurring themes throughout the exhibition of Karim Forlin.
Styx, the sculptures made of wood resembling pegs where sailors could moor their boats in safety of the darkness of the sea – or they could pose a threat that needs to be avoided. Navigating through rough seas on the passage from life to death one encounters numerous obstacles and danger.
Both a reminder of protection and threat, the sculptures Styx embodies the same experience a foreigner stranding on new lands experiences, fearful of new dangers after the perils of a journey. The river Styx from Greek Mythology inhibits the tension of the passage towards an unknown kingdom. The visitor’s body and soul is taken on a journey of mind.
In contrast to Styx, the installation Temp offers a more defined area on the ground and on the wall. Reference to the Latin word templum, its role is to delimit a cult zone, devolved to the seat in this exhibition, the harbor and the food, whose vital functions suddenly assume a sacred tone. Templum stands for an island of survival and life after entering new lands. The materiality of the objects varies between vernacular and recycled: a hemp carpet and bowls of newspaper, surrounded by a copper coloured mural. Echoes of the earth and world resonate in this installation, yet another composition where each element is endowed with "preciosity" that Walter Benjamin attributes to objects based on their function: “In a house with no bed, a carpet becomes precious to the one covered by it at night”.
The piece Belle Rêve, a sound installation anchored on the wall, retrieves a memory of time that seeks to continuously perpetuate its dream of magic. The phrase repeats after Blanche from A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams: "I do not want realism. I want magic! Yes, yes, magic! ". The aspiration to magic, which justifies the distortion of reality of the character, even the lie - "I misrepresent things to them. I do not tell the truth" represents the demons that eventually everyone is haunted by. The mirage of what should be the truth makes us carry a more enlightened look at the nature of things: for Blanche it did quite the opposite and drove her into madness.
Symbols of reminiscence can appear in different shapes and can be found in different places – the sculptures *kar, from the Proto-Indo-European word for “stone”, emphasize the alienation of naturally occurring materials in their situational context. The sculptures resemble carins that are found on riversides or hiking trails, natural signs of human existence. The sculptures materialize the fragility of their structure: they are made out of glass and are carefully posed one on top of the other held together by their weight only.
The series of ink drawings that could be mistaken as religious symbols are really the original forms of embrasures from medieval fortresses. Here the function creates the drawing and its proportions, according to a "binary code" of symbol and meaning allowing an infinite number of combinations. The inks cause a last moment of doubt that reflects on the reality and the nature of the objects through its minimalistic appearance and their different layers of interpretation and attributed meaning.
Text by Audrey Teichmann