Tobias Kaspar

“Tobias Kaspar: The Air on the Way to the Oyster”, Kunsthalle, St. Gallen, Switzerland, 2014
Photo: Gunnar Meier, Zurich

Press Release

The strict codes of the fashion and consumer world and their communication through images are central themes of the two exhibitions by Tobias Kaspar (*1984 in Basel, lives in Rome) and Carter Mull (*1977 in Atlanta, lives in Los Angeles). At Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen the artists examine constructions of identity from different positions. Their images, films and installations enter a dialogue both spatially and in terms of content. With rearranged symbols from fashion and pop culture they reveal social mechanisms and create their own pictorial worlds. The juxtaposition of their different strategies shows that in a reality flooded with images and goods the dividing lines between art and consumption and individuality and community are permeable. 

Tobias Kaspar demonstrates the interaction between encoding and decoding with the film Black Noire, the centrepiece of his show «The Air on the Way to the Oyster». The new film, produced by the Kunst Halle, is the second part of a trilogy and shows impressions from a luxury clothes shop in Rome. Voyeuristic camera angles and slow sequences capture the brand articles at an interface: the clothes and accessories are still free from the personal charge of their wearers, although the label influences the significance. In addition, the cool aesthetics of the close-ups of his own pictures create poetry in consumption devoid of meaning. Kaspar makes it clear that the presentation and representation of clothes and architecture lie close together. The artist is also intervening at the Kunst Halle with an installation: a carpet becomes a stylized catwalk which connects the spaces and serves as an abstracted plinth for the presentation of photographic works. 

In contrast to Kaspar’s sober aesthetics, in «The Princess is Caged in the ©» Carter Mull confronts visitors with a dense installation made up of paintings, light sculptures hanging from the ceiling, a video and thousands of loose sheets of paper which inundate the floor. Gaudy colours, logos, typography and screenshots from online shops for hipsters characterise the detailed pictorial material. With this Mull questions the status and production of goods and consequently art. In the process various social systems and forms of expression and dissemination conflate - analogously to the networked postmodern world. Mull’s main interest is the relationship of the individual to community. In particular he focuses on the way in which identities are constructed with brands and other cultural symbols. The American artist creates picture puzzles which enable new relations between highbrow and pop culture and give an insight into his perception of the convoluted world. 

Kasper and Mull unfold a many-layered encounter with subcultures and pictorial realities with almost diametrically opposed artistic languages and strategies which enter into a promising dialogue at the Kunst Halle.