I feel obsolete is an ongoing series of sculptural experiments in abandoned crafts, which sprung from a duo exhibition at Am Ende des Tages, by Alban Karsten and Kitty Maria in 2021 in Düsseldorf, DE.
In these sculptures, Alban experiments with the craft of intarsia, an ancient inlay technique that predates the seventh century AD. This involves inserting pieces of wood or other materials into a contrasting furniture surface, to depict a scene or story.
He skews the artisanal nature of these and other craft techniques in his process. In his intarsia works, he cuts through the material entirely, sands and carves the edges of the cut parts and then glues them back together. Connector plates, normally mounted out of sight, are often screwed to the outside of his pieces, to replace sophisticated joinery. By deliberately misinterpreting or misremembering these techniques, a new visual dialect emerges: a stylized ode to awkwardness, ambiguity and misunderstanding.
In a recent iteration of this project, Alban collaborated with a psychic, to whom he submitted several questions about his upcoming solo exhibition. These ranged from rather direct and formal (“Should I use more color in my work?” and “What does the horse jumping object still need?”, to quite existential (“Why do horses recur so often in my work?” and “How did I end up here?”).
The questions served as a method of understanding what he needed to modify or add to his works for the exhibition, and what was still missing. It proved a reassuring prospect to talk to someone who moves along timelines, who could already see what the exhibition would turn out to be in a few months’ time, and what needed to be done in order to achieve that.
Shown at: Am Ende des Tages (Düsseldorf, DE), This Art Fair (Amsterdam), Museum van Bommel van Dam (Venlo, NL), Frank Taal Gallery (Rotterdam, NL), W139 (Amsterdam, NL)
Developed with: Kitty Maria
Made possible with the kind support of: Mondriaan Fonds, AFK, ÆdT – Am Ende des Tages, Healing Centre Beyond Medicine and Frank Taal Gallery.
Materials: Maple, spalted beech, pear, European hornbeam, bubinga (forbidden hardwood), aluminium, steel, multiplex, faux leather, acrylic glass, screw caps.
Made possible with the kind support of: Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst, Healing Centre Beyond Medicine and Frank Taal Gallery.
Ceramics assistance: Yiannis Mouravas
Carving assistance: Maarten Nico
Intarsia and upholstery assistance: Kitty Maria
Metalwork: Rogier Brinkman, Tobias Jansen