Carl Marin and Veronika Pausova – “Age me a heavy twig”
Franz Kaka is pleased to present Age me a heavy twig, a two-person exhibition featuring new work by Carl Marin and Veronika Pausova.
When presented with a set of variables aimed toward some uncertain end, it’s an increasingly common solution to simply default to the collective wisdom of an all-knowing search engine. Or if out one’s depths, to pose this unfamiliarity first to a digital circle of friends, family, and acquaintances in the hope that a like-based acclamation will occur before more rigorous investigation is required. But whether this is done collectively and in the open or in silence and alone, a decision is required before the action can proceed. How do we visualize the weighing of options? Before all possible outcomes are plugged into a clickbait listicle and ranked, what do the operations involved in these determinations look like? And if revealed, what vulnerability is found in this exposed unsured-ness?
In Carl Marin’s “To build a fire” the potential for a variety of solutions to a single problem is made explicit. Four arrangements of sticks are positioned throughout the gallery, each a unique bundle of kindling awaiting a future flame. Their construction varies from a simple stacking of largest to smallest, to the more unusual approach of isolating and displaying specific stick sizes. Each of these configurations are the result of a prompt Marin sent to three sets of participants, in which he instructed them to intuitively arrange and weld a set of fourteen cast aluminum sticks in a formation they believed would catch fire. The prompts were sent in turn, first to a group of students attending the technical school at which Marin learned to weld, then to a former colleague who is herself now a welder, and finally to Marin’s former welding instructor. Upon their return each set is painted to confuse process of their making. Here the decision is left to another, though Marin has also assembled one final firestarter kit himself. In “To build a fire” the potential for ‘what is’ to be ‘what isn’t’ assumes the form of a primary human activity, the building of a fire, each variant revealing a present that would be otherwise.
In the paintings of Veronika Pausova the revelation of these processes also comes through careful looking. Working from an evolving visual lexicon that includes ears, hands, oranges, and shopping bags, Pausova’s compositions are deliberately constructed one object at a time, placed and rearranged in an effort to reconcile their precise rendering with the limits of the canvas. There arrangement happens in stops and starts, where one placement sets off a whole series of others that must be resolved with the whole before another set might begin. Through operations of choice and chance a three dimensional space emerges that belies the flatness of the support, while also revealing the finitude of that structure. Upon close inspection these decisions are all revealed, and the hand of the painter that is denied in the paint’s application emerges instead as the hand that decides what to cover, what to crop, what to hide or expose.
When in the studio and faced with an empty canvas, or on a cold night with only a bundle twigs, or when faced with any other problem that might require some sort of a solution, an initial decision from which all others will proceed is necessary. The succession of choices that follow can evolve as a linear narrative, or take on more abstract or recursive forms, but regardless of their formal composition each decision will open a new series of paths onward, while also closing others off. In hindsight a logic, or illogic, will always be revealed, and in this revelation we find the contingency of a world that might have been otherwise, or not at all.
Pausova and Marin met during grad school at VCU, and have since relocated to Toronto, ON. This is their first time exhibiting together.
Carl Marin would like to thank Meghan Cicchino, Tony DeFrancisco, John Ferry, Simon Firth, Dan Kistner, Austin Jaffe, Ronnald Jaskel, and Shelia Whitsett for their invaluable assistance.
Carl Marin and Veronika Pausova would like to thank Noah Wall for his titling help through the use of his cards, Grotesque Tables II.
Photography: all images copyright and courtesy the artists and Franz Kaka