Transmundane Confusion

Exhibition at  Konstepidemin in Gothenburg: 2024-02-16 – 2024-03-10.


All the works in the exhibition thematizes, in one way or another, spiritual confusion. The West – hungry for spiritual growth / tired of an over-rational scientism which borders on the irrational itself – looks to the East and to its own pre-Christian past in order to find new modes of being. Somehow trapped in between new (old) ontologies and its current own capitalist-centric mind frame, the spiritual path of the contemporary truth seeker is filled with almost comical tripping stones. One good example of this is Christmas: part Christian, part pagan, part Coca Cola, part spiritual, part commercial. The here proposed works are tongue-in-cheek  to a multifaceted spiritual memory, which is part ours and part someone else’s. They engage the architectural, the ready-made and found, the commercial and the technological in order to emphasize our entangled and complex status quo.


Work Description (works are more or less in order as the pictures):


1.       The sculpture Tower of Babel: Juice of Life plays with the notion of the human’s desire to build an actual or metaphorical ladder to the heavens. The former can be found in the story of the tower of babel, the latter in occultural diagrams such as the kabbalistic “tree of life”. The sculpture alludes to the concept of an original source from which everything flows down to us.

2.       The word and the shapes came to me in a dream. I still don’t know what it means. Theosophical Glossary: “Âkâsa (Sk.). The subtle, supersensuous spiritual essence which pervades all space; the primordial substance erroneously identified with Ether. But it is to Ether what Spirit is to Matter, or Âtmâ to Kâma-rûpa. It is, in fact, the Universal Space in which lies inherent the eternal Ideation of the Universe in its ever-changing aspects on the planes of matter and objectivity, and from which radiates the First Logos, or expressed thought.”

3.       The sculptural collage, Cosmic Fire, is made in reference to esoteric forms of energy, which are found in almost every branch of occulture: odic force, fohat, elan vital, azoth, shakti, psychic force,  pneuma, elixir vitae, tummo, the holy spirit, prana, vril, orgone, chi, etheric force, animal magnetism, …

4.       The work Cleopatra’s Needle is a 3D-printed obelisk screwed on top of an old German camera tripod. The obelisk is tilted to indicate its instability. Obelisks are found everywhere in the Western world, often with dubious acquisition stories (such as the one in Central Park which is the name-giver of this artwork). Obelisks symbolize the sun god Ra and are in line with the long tradition of sun/phallus worship (both symbol for creation). The work questions the Western occultural appropriation of Egyptian spiritual memory but also the extensive tourism around sites such as the Great Pyramid of Giza.

5.       Plan of Life is an architectural translation of the concept of rebirth into a floor plan. The title plays with the double meaning of the word plan: what is the plan of life? The black frame is in reference to the Western habit of adding black elements to the pictures of the deceased. The vibrant color of the square is in reference to the contemporary human obsession with fulfillment and happiness, a psychological desire which fits into a capitalist framework of continuous improvement.

6.       New Romanticism is an abstract sculpture which plays with the notion of energy. It vaguely references the four classical elements of alchemy and the idea of a fifth: Aether / Bioelectromagnetism. The latter part scientific truth (firing brain synapses, frequency of the human heart beat, atomic structures, ...) and part pseudo-scientific and occultural speculation (animal magnetism, odic forces, chi, ogrone, élan vital, ...). Whose cosmologies count? The title suggests a revival of romanticism, as an opposition to current technophile narratives of “smart” industrialism. The sculpture is made from wood, copper, rope, found nails and a natural lodestone with supposed spiritual powers. The sculpture was “activated” in a forest in Småland, Sweden.

7.       A yantra is a geometrical diagram (or temple floor plan), found in Indian religions, with supposed occult powers. The side flaps on the background cardboard are referencing a Christian church triptych. The Pellegrino Naturali Yantra, made from San Pellegrino lemonade cardboard boxes, plays with the idea of spiritual consumerism / materialism. Specifically, the accumulation of spiritual growth-related products (such as books, crystals, decoration, etc.) and the egocentric power trips one can fall prey to, are indicators for a practitioner’s rootedness in a capitalist growth framework. The work hints at architectural degrowth practices which work with found objects. When life gives you lemons.

8.       The Air Wheel is made of four found ventilation grills which are oriented in the shape of a swastika (once a spiritual symbol for the sun and well-being, now a forbidden symbol associated with Nazism). The grills are held together by Chinese-manufactured zip ties (tectonically an ad hocism unappreciated in architectural production). The imagined wind flow creates a tornado-like shape which reminds one of the benevolent and the destructive aspects of nature. Air is one of the four classical alchemical elements and its bad handling is one of the main reasons for sick-building-syndrome.

9.       Technophilia is a device to control nature – or better it points at the human illusion and hubris which makes us think we can. The device is a conceptualized vertical farming machine: timed light, timed water, no soil – productivity is key: living from drop to drop. Originally, a bunch of basil plants were part of this techno-capitalist machinery, but it could equally be imagined as a metaphor for future transhuman life.