Anton Kusters — portfolio Vonk 2022-2023
My artistic practice addresses the human condition, exploring interconnections between generations, history, decay and the loss of experience of place.
In this, my installations often present themselves as alternate, fragmented narratives through complex themes such as solace, hope and doubt. I draw upon events, biographies and objects from within my family, and connect them to larger political and social histories and present day data. The subject appears to dictate the artistic process, and my work ranges from single autonomous pieces to large scale multi-faceted projects and artistic collaborations. I employ photography, sculpture, video and sound, often combined into installations.
I am deeply interested in the impermanence of medium, and I attempt to address concepts of witnessing, memory and understanding.
I have collected several recent works that are relevant to my evolution and my goals below:
- There is Nothing Here (2021)
- Vessel No. 1 (2020-2021)
- Zero I-XI (2020-2021)
- Two Hundred and Sixty-nine Steps, Looking up (2017)
- The Blue Skies Project (2012-2018)
There is Nothing Here (2021)
There is Nothing Here (2021) references the inevitability of time and the loss of experience of place. The grid of video clips shows the arrival at the last known location of 63 former nazi Germany SS concentration camps.
Seventy-five years ago, the same journey over these roads, past houses and market places, factories and landscapes, was forced a different, traumatic meaning, onto victims as well as inhabitants.
Today, there appears to be no visible trauma, no commemoration, no memory. There is only daily life.
Projected single channel 4K video of prearranged loops, continuously playing; no sound; duration 4:12
Vessel №1 (2021)
Vessel № 1 forms a dialogue with the surrounding space it is in. It proposes to hold on to the memories that it is entrusted with. Eventually the burden will become too much and the work will sink into the ground.
The connotations of materials used to make this piece are crucial: marble as sculptural medium of commemoration, and cement as a medium of conservation. Both are brought together in one object, creating a tension between past and future.
Vessel № 1 references the “Schwerbelastungskörper” of Albert Speer, a colossal failed soil inspection mechanism still present in Berlin today.
Cast white marble powder and white cement, white sand, depth gauge
The works in the ongoing series of “Zero” are a reinterpretation of thousands of discarded peel-apart negatives from the artist’s studio.
After minutely intervening on the surface of 8,5x10,8cm negatives, the work is substantially enlarged to larger-than life size. The orginial tiny, casual finger wipes, hand prints, cracks and scratches now become deliberate, large, physical gestures.
Medium: pigment print on photographic paper, blockwood panel, washi
Dimensions: 1414x1010mm (55.67x39.76”)
WORKS(tap to enlarge)
269 Steps, Looking Up (2017), Gavin (2020)
“Two Hundred and Sixty-nine Steps, Looking up” is a vertically projected image sequence loop, consisting of 269 images, one for every step along the historic inspection route after the liberation of the Wöbbelin concentration camp in 1945. Visitors are required to look up to see the work projected on the ceiling of the room.
The image sequence is introduced by a single photographic work “Gavin (2020)” outside of the room.
Single channel image sequence loop, 4’29”, 1fps, 4K, no sound, vertically projected, fluorescent tape, UV light
Pigment print, wooden panel, varnish, washi tape
The Blue Skies Project (2018)
The Blue Skies Project contains several connected works over different media and platforms.
Kusters’ central time-based installation “One Thousand and Seventy-eight Blue Skies” contains 1078 slowly fading instant film images of blue skies, in dialogue with a 4432 day long tracking sound piece (by Ruben Samama). The installation is completed by time lapse cameras that capture the process of aging of the work. The installation is controlled by underlying data consisting of dates, gps coordinates, and number of victims.
Over a six-year period, Kusters researched and photographed a blue sky at the last known location of every former nazi Germany concentration camp and killing center across Europe. These nazi Germany concentration camps existed from 1933 to 1945 (4432 days) in a highly organised system of imprisonment, forced labor, and murder. More than half of the 1078 sites have no visual remains today.
The upwards viewpoint reflects upon the difficulty of representing trauma, the fading of collective memory, and is a confrontation of how we witness, how we see, and how we choose to remember.
Given the sensitivity of the medium, a deliberate act of conservation by conservator, institution and artist is a recurring key element to the work every time it is shown, while seeking a long term home.
A 4432 day long sound piece by collaborating artist Ruben Samama accompanies the visual piece. “The Tracking of One Thousand and Seventy-eight Blue Skies” generates a realtime individual tone for every single known victim, following the historical timeline of the concentration camp system.
The Blue Skies Project is curated by Monica Allende. The current project trajectory includes exhibitions in both contemporary arts and historical/public contexts. In 2019, a reproduction of the piece ‘One Thousand and Seventy-eight Blue Skies (2018)’ was installed at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. In 2020, the exhibition at Fitzrovia Chapel / Photo London was nominated a finalist for the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation prize. In 2021, the work was exhibited at Les Rencontres d’Arles.
FP-100C instant film, aluminium panels, wood, varnish
WORKS (selection)(tap to enlarge)
1078 Blue Skies / 4432 Days was published by Kehrer Verlag in 2021.