‘Afterwards’ by Tarik Kiswanson at the Salzburger Kunstverein

Tarik Kiswanson, Contact Sheet, 2016, stainless steel, 250 x 135 x 3 cm, courtesy the artist and carlier l Gebauer. Tarik Kiswanson, The Wait, 2023, resin, fiberglass, paint, wooden chair, 143 x 52 cm, chair 80 x 50 x 50 cm, courtesy of the artist. Exhibition view Tarik Kiswanson. Afterwards, Salzburger Kunstverein 2023, photo: Rainer Iglar, © Salzburger Kunstverein.

Tarik Kiswanson presents ‘Afterwards’ an installation of new works in the Great Hall of the Salzburger Kunstverein, blending themes of rootlessness, regeneration, and renewal through poetic sculptural and architectural gestures. Growing up in Sweden, to a family exiled from Palestine, Kiswanson’s artistic practice embodies the poetics of métissage, exploring multiple conditions and contexts as a means of writing and surviving.

The core concept of transformation lies at the heart of Kiswanson’s oeuvre, manifested in his sculptural creations that convey ideas of displacement, metamorphosis, and change. Previously, his art revolved around the prism of migration, reflecting his personal experience of longing for a homeland amidst conflict and displacement. His earlier works often referenced family archives and histories, contemplating memory’s fading nature and the challenges of adapting to a new life and home. In this exhibition, Kiswanson delves into more universal ideas of transformation, incorporating references to post-war reconstruction across Europe and the transformative processes found in nature.

Central to the exhibition are the cocoon sculptures, inspired by the sublime transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly. Kiswanson intertwines this physical metamorphosis with notions of diaspora, growth, entropy, and becoming. These sculptures emerge from the artist’s drawings, shaped based on his own body and scale, symbolizing a mirroring of body, emotion, and experience. They hang like alien pods, evoking science fiction and geopolitical narratives, offering a sense of hovering above the world for those uprooted from their homelands and cultural identities.

Tarik Kiswanson, Respite, 2020, resin, candle, 40 x 28 x 9 cm, courtesy the artist and Sfeir-Semler Gallery Beirut / Hamburg. Exhibition view Tarik Kiswanson. Afterwards, Salzburger Kunstverein 2023, photo: Rainer Iglar, © Salzburger Kunstverein.

Intriguingly, Kiswanson incorporates post-war furniture, particularly chairs, from his research on postwar reconstruction in France, Germany, and Austria. These mass-produced furnishings, once instrumental in rebuilding societies after the devastation of World War Two, now find themselves interconnected with the artist’s concerns about contemporary migration, flight, and the perpetual process of resettlement.

The exhibition further explores what comes after significant events, with Kiswanson acknowledging the trauma and need for repair often depicted by diasporic artists. However, his works transcend mere repair and instead assert metamorphosis and transformation as potentially liberating expressions. Embedded in his art are profound ties to his Palestinian background, representing a sense of rootlessness and metamorphosis across countries and languages.

Kiswanson’s exhibition merges his personal narrative of hybridity, displacement, longing, and shifting identity with a reflection on the collective human condition. It explores various possibilities, including hopeful tendencies for rebirth, transformation, and liberation from trauma and rootlessness. While the home-shaped hole remains palpable, Kiswanson looks to the future with hope, informed by the longing for a stable homeland mixed with his understanding of geopolitical catastrophes that shape countless lives.

Exhibition view Tarik Kiswanson. Afterwards, Salzburger Kunstverein 2023, photo: Rainer Iglar, © Salzburger Kunstverein.

About Tarik Kiswanson

Tarik Kiswanson is a multidisciplinary artist whose works traverse various mediums, including sculpture, video, and performance. Born in 1986 in Halmstad, Sweden, Kiswanson’s diverse cultural background, with Swedish, Palestinian, and French heritage, significantly influenced his art. His creations often explore themes of identity, memory, and human emotions, inviting viewers to reflect on the complexities of the self and its connection to the world. With a profound ability to intertwine personal narratives with universal truths, Kiswanson’s art has gained international recognition and has been exhibited in prominent galleries and institutions worldwide.

Location: Salzburger Kunstverein, Salzburg, Austria

Date: 19 July – 10 September 2023

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