The first solo exhibition at KRETS by Amsterdam-based artist Karl Georg Staffan Björk comprises a sculptural installation investigating Het Breed – a modernist housing complex in Amsterdam Noord, where he also lives and works. In recent years he has examined, in different steps and layers, the modernization process and transformation of the area, through materials like aluminum, ceramics, silicone and polyester. How do urban planning and aesthetic norms impact social and mental structures such as human behavior, interaction, perception, and imagination?
Shifting is a site-specific work in transit, which in between the lines reflects on the relationship between aesthetics and ideology; on decay, decoration (idealization), norms, movement, reconstruction and recreation. The work is also a way to approach questions about belonging, relocation, social status, seclusion, anonymity and (in)accessibility. In Shifting, colors, materials, textures and construction elements shift form and position with each other. Based on this principle, a number of replicas of architectural objects featured in the area’s buildings and infrastructure are introduced. The different objects are reminiscent of their originals, but through displacements and disruptions they have been freed from their primary responsibilities. Deprived of their main purposes, the different objects appear to seek new identities. Like Wolfgang Paalen’s work Nuage articulé (Articulated Cloud, 1938), a sculpture consisting of natural sponges in shape of an umbrella, they seek – in pure curiosity – to find a new purpose in their existence, therefor ending up in confusing states where they are not intended to be.
This kind of perceptual shift is a reoccurring theme in Björk’s practice. Alongside site-specificity (local topography, cultural heritage and history), several of his works reflect on occasions and settings which in different ways alter human perception. Situations where scale, position, structure and function are rattled and impact our spatial conception – in real-time or filtered through our memories or thoughts. With works that invoke a sense of recognition, but where something isn’t quite right, the artist wants to activate the way we think about and experience our surroundings. What happens when the diversion between reality and imagination becomes ambiguous and generates new ways in which to perceive and interpret the world?