Kunst in München

The wanderer
(Karen Klauke / english: Klaus Münzenmaier)

Facing backwards the camera slowly approaches the person standing on a ledge. The knowing observer will quickly identify the figure clad in black:
It seems to be Caspar David Friedrich’s famous figure seen from the back. in his painting “ Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer“ ( Wanderer above the sea of fog) Still there is something irritating the accustomed way of. contemplating the painting that is dated around 1818.
Life is rendered to the once inert painting. The man’s hair is rumpled, his coat is fluttering in the wind. Wafts of fog and snowflakes are floating by in a sort of rush. All of a sudden geometrical forms will fly across the painting. As if they were coming out of nowhere they start to format into an urban landscape in front of the mountain backdrop. The camera will then pan and display the person encircled by metropolitan architecture and after all will expose his face: it is the face of the artist who has created this video installation- Johannes Karl- himself, who is longingly looking into the skyscrapers .More and more blocks of buildings will appear, noticeably narrowing the circle around him, blocking the sight, until suddenly they will proverbially disolve and disappear. And then it is there again, just like at the beginning,, lonely on a ledge observing the sea of fog, the person seen from the back.
The original painting- Caspar David Friedrich’s “ Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer“- serving as a model for this video reflects the early nineteenth century spirit shaped by the French revolution and the Napoleonic occupation. After the liberation and realignment of Europe men strove for liberty, equality, and individuality. The idea of romanticism with its imaginative and subjective points of view, its emotional intensity as well as its dreamlike qualities was born as a new conception of the world. Caspar David Friedrich’s paintings display his own ideas of the romantic human being, of an awestruck individual wistfully gazing into the distance awaiting the transcendence between heaven and earth.
When turning away from civilization and devoting himself to nature man experiences God`s almightiness. Johannes Karl appplies this well-known motif of the Romantic period in order to translate it into the present that is the age of digital media and video animation. He overcomes the hyberbolic scheme of the paintings and exchanges it for a vertically oriented design vocabulary. The technical alienation in “ Der Wanderer...“ shows the man of today. What God-given nature means to the romantic individual, constructed megacities like New York, Chicago , or Tokyo- making the promise of a pulsating life in a city come loud- mean to modern man.
.Johannes Karl, however, does neither aim at elucidating the contrast between the epochs nor even at marking them out against each other. He is attracted by the dialectics between the two. Playing with the romantic position he is out to epitomize a new modern understanding of wanderlust and homesickness.
Like the view of the camera, once rigid, once sweeping, Johannes Karl’s protagonist , always longing for the promises of any of the two lives, restlessy fluctuates between civilizing architecture and immaculate nature.
The game of mingling worlds continues in the figure of the wanderer. While Caspar David Friedrich’s repoussoir figure is pulling the observer into the action through its consequent view from the back , Johannes Karl temporarily disolves this means of classical art. Panning the camera he discloses the face of the figure seen from behind – that is his own – to the eye of the beholder. From then on he latter will identify himself not only with an unknown figure, but he willl rather recognize the artist as an imaginative and creative individual who interacts with his surroundings.
With the help of this historical reference Johannes Karl creates his own artist epic: a human being oscillating between history and the present, static and change, between homesickness and wanderlust. And still, it always begins and ends with a stare into the distance that shall display the future.