Karl-Heinz Klopf


O.K Center for Contemporary Art, Linz


In this installation, the artist brought together 30 personally significant places on a 25-metre tarpaulin in chronological order, using a map-like form of depiction.

(30 Destinations, 1998; acrylic paint on tarpaulin, 2 monitors, video, 300 x 2500 x 100 cm; exhibition Archiv X, O.K. Centrum für Gegenwartskunst, Linz; April 24–July 1, 1998)


In a system of signs related to the representational procedures of architecture, Karl-Heinz Klopf treats places, where he has lived for longer or shorter periods of time. What emerges are composed overviews of biographical place memories, that seem cleared of all the physical impressiveness of the location and press on to the generality of the signature lying below. A sovereign glance does without all that is accidental in the perception of space and takes the impressions gained on site to define a compositional image segment of memory. In simple codes, these “foundations” are transferred to maps with brush strokes and mounted on frames as objects. These “plan objects" alternate between architecture, painting and object. The representations of the memory-maps are also based on the object character itself, rather than geographic orientation in external space. The compositional segments of memor appear to the observer like reverse images, negative prints of impressions: hachured white areas for houses, white circles for trees on a dark background. Buildings become textures, the outlying areas remain smooth. If one pushes aside the knowledge that these are objectified signatures of personal place memories and attempts not to read them as architectonic plans, what remains is the impression of an energy-charged game of composing with surfaces, lines and reduced coloration. Recollection as the environment for thinking opens its spatial storehouse, the layers of memories are laid bare down to that which cannot be seen on site: the map of the memory itself. This map is the foundation for the picture composition. Just as the organization of recollection is often described in spatial metaphors, Karl-Heinz Klopf organizes his personal place recollection as abstract maps of memory.
In Georges Perec's book Träume von Räumen (Espèces d'espaces), an attempt is made to invoke collected room concentration: "I have an unusual memory capacity. It is enough to close my eyes as soon as I lie down and think of a certain place with a minimum of concentration, and almost immediately I am able to recollect every detail of the room, the position of the doors and windows, the arrangement of the furniture. Indeed I have an almost physical sensation of lying in that room again. ... The recollected space of the room is sufficient to refresh, recall, revive the most fleeting, the most ridiculous, but also the most important memories." Thinking of a particular room often evokes the perceptions and experiences associated with that room—they form a place of recollection.

A longer sojourn of the artist in Tokyo led to the project Splace (space/place). Exploring an urban agglomeration entirely different from that of western traditions of space seemed fascinating. Karl-Heinz Klopf wandered through the city with a Camcorder and a tape recorder, capturing the fleeting perception of places in sound and picture. In the video Splace, the city speaks for itself in its own multivocality: individual buildings, the pumping veins of the metro network, conversations with inhabitants of Tokyo about their personal surroundings. The superimpositions of the physical city, the inhabited city and the imagined city result in a multilayered projection of “Tokyo" as a space of experience.

30 Destinations offers the visitors to Archiv X a recollective walk through selected biographical stations. They are arranged in strictly chronological order on a long tarpaulin through the entry level hall. Each place is marked by name, represented by an outline and explained in a brief text. Two synchronized monitors flank the installation, showing earlier video documentations of the respective places and how 30 Destinations was created. While working on the tarpaulin in the Mediadeck of the O.K, Karl-Heinz Klopf gave commentaries and personal explanations for each of the stations and was filmed on video. The places take on contours and allow the visitor to dive into a present archive of a stranger's memories and associations. The way the individual places are represented with different media forms, the association of the archive material with the current recording, result in a multilayered image of the construction of remembering. Then the visitor's walk begins along chronologically arranged, biographical places through the hall—Rainbach, Tiaquepaque, Santa Fe, Toritsu Dai, Les Landries ...

“It is my memory of specific buildings/places that makes these representations possible. These kinds of drawings are nothing other than a form of description - in a degree of abstraction that I find similar to the spoken or written text, leaving many possibilities open for the recipient's own projections. For many people who don't know these places, my site plans may seem like a poetic text. Sometimes I see it like that, too. To me, the 'archive' of these memories is also a metaphor for the spatial and thus also the cultural radius of action that is possible today and is taken for granted at the same time.” (Karl-Heinz Klopf)

(This text by Elke Krasny has been published in Archiv X, Investigations of Contemporary Art, O.K Center for Contemporary Art in Linz, 1998)

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