The formations in my recent work are defiantly mobile, teetering between sturdiness and volatility, acceleration and collapse. My work derives from found images – old, discarded textbooks, architectural diagrams, and field guides. The source, which initially arrives as a complete entity – a fixed, systematically-produced branch of knowledge, is meticulously extracted, multiplied, bent, and curved. The resulting formations suggest choreographed animations, momentarily arrested in space but implying unremitting flux and transformation. The column-like shapes insinuate appendages, morphing from architectural structures into pictorial representations of an invented language. The constructions oscillate between collapsed stick figures, scaffolded habitats, archaic devices, and ritualistic objects.
The pillars and coils are lifted from posters of Ancient Pompeii. They reveal a world of precisely symmetrical interiors, decorated with gold-plated colonnades and marble walls. These source images annotate triumphs of human achievement –harmonious, balanced proportions, linear perspective, and the notion of perfected form. Yet, removed from their sources, these forms shed their logic, extricating them from their rational, stable realm. This transformation discloses the precarious relations that exist beneath the illusion of unified, organized form.
The purpose of a column is to stabilize and support lateral force, absorbing weight and providing equilibrium and stasis. Defects such as crookedness and curvature jeopardize a column’s solidity and strength. My constructions are marked by these deformities. These pillars—previous emblems of balance and order—slump with gravity. The coiled appendages appear lop-sided and cobbled together. The forms affirm a sense of unfeasibility in their proportions and assemblage—their impotence as stable architectural formations. The images morph into fragments of an abstracted alphabet, implying the mutation and moodiness of language: the works suggest architecture as choreography, architecture as weaponry, architecture as language.
On one level, these images suggest the physical erosion of classical ruins – sites of determined conservation yet inevitable decline and decay. Yet the forms in my work create their own internal logic—rather than supporting an exterior arch or beam, the pillars and poles sustain each other. The images in my works suggest dependency—not as a symbol of weakness—but as a sign of collaboration, commitment, and urgency.
© 2009, Deb Karpman. All rights