Beauty and Enclosures

Halo Kultura (Gdynia, PL), and Kunstfort bij Vijfhuizen, 2021 – 2022

Beauty and Enclosures was created during a two month residency in Gdynia (Poland), where Alban Karsten worked with three Polish blacksmiths and a metalworker to construct a participatory fence together. This resulted into a film and a sculpture, which were both installed at Kunstfort bij Vijfhuizen (NL).

In the 17th century, enclosures started appearing all over Europe. Fences put an end to the medieval open field system, privatising the common land, pieces of land that were accessible to all. From then on­wards, fences served to “clar­ify” the ownership and usage rights of a piece of land.

During his residency in Gdynia (Poland) in 2021, Karsten finds four local blacksmiths who practice their almost extinct profession by making fences. What does it mean to them to produce objects that cause separation, while at the same time using all their talent to endow these objects with beauty and decorate them lavishly? In Beauty and Enclosures, Karsten proposes that the blacksmiths work together to create an object that summarises their different ideas of beauty.

The sudden presence of fences produces an unintended by-product: horse jumping. Foxhunters on horseback were suddenly confronted with obstacles that the horses learned to jump in order to reach the other side more quickly. This is how a territorial measure evolved into a form of leisure activity: equestrian show jumping as we know it today.

Made possible with the support of:
Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst, Mondriaan Fonds, Halo Kultura (Gdynia, PL), Kunstfort bij Vijfhuizen (NL) and PietBuxus.

Many thanks to my collaborators, the metal charmers: Leszek Supiński (blacksmith in Gdańsk), Zakhar Beznisko (blacksmith in Gdańsk), Jerzy Lasek (metalworker in Gdynia) and Remigiusz Bystrek (blacksmith in Gdańsk)

Producer and interpreter PL: Alicja Nowicz
Camera: Kitty Maria
Metalwork: Tobias Jansen
Installation pictures Kunstfort bij Vijfhuizen: LNDW Studio
Opening pictures Kunstfort bij Vijfhuizen: Maarten Nauw