Karlos Gil: The object editor & the semionaut

Quotation might very well have become one of the prevalent strategies for many contemporary artists since the dawn of Postmodern times. This is not the place to elaborate yet another list of usual suspects and I certainly wouldn´t want to dwell on the obvious, but let’s intimate here that the appropriation and détournement of ideas, texts and artefacts of previous creators by subsequent generations into an endless loop of influence has become so mundane there seems to be little interest left in discussing any further the concepts of authorship or originality, those bygone Modern myths which we now look back to with a strange mixture of nostalgia and contempt. There is, though, still much to be said about the question of editorship, about the artist-as-editor of references and research avenues, he who approaches historical cultural production as if it were a malleable material, like an intangible clay of sorts.

Karlos Gil 'The Intervals' (2012). Installation view at Sala d'Arcs, Valencia.

Karlos Gil ‘The Intervals’ (2012). Installation view at Sala d’Arcs, Valencia.

One may well wonder why. Why approach art making by way of preexisting works, making objects informed by other objects, instead of working ex nihilo? This mode of production is certainly a constant fixture in Karlos Gil’s oeuvre, which for several years now has explored art making as the selection and reinsertion of myriad past references into a rhizomatic configuration of the now, where the present time expands to the point of conquering and obliterating any sense of linear history. The Intervals points at this boundless “nowness”, by presenting a constellation of artefacts from scattered moments in time that can either baffle or seduce the viewer by its refusal to reveal the principles behind its own systematisation.

Karlos Gil 'The Intervals' (2012). Catalogue image.

Karlos Gil ‘The Intervals’ (2012). Image from the catalogue.

Gil’s intentions, thus, remain unclear. Is it a historical homage or an exercise in cultural criticism? Whatever the answer might be, it is clear that this opacity calls for an activation of the viewer. Although sensuously appealing, there is no easy intellectual pleasure to be gained from this harmonious arrangement of elements unless one engages in Gil’s visual roman á clef. This methodology turns both the artist and his audience into semionauts, who invent pathways between signs, carving new meaning from old signifiers.

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Karlos Gil 'The Intervals' (2012). Installation views at Sala d'Arcs, Valencia.

Karlos Gil ‘The Intervals’ (2012). Installation views at Sala d’Arcs, Valencia.

This text first appeared in the catalogue published to accompany Karlos Gil’s exhibition ‘The Intervals’, on view from the 1st of March to the 2nd of June 2013 at Sala d’Arcs, Fundación Chirivella Soriano, Valencia, Spain.

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About Lorena Muñoz-Alonso

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