People of the Earth/Die Völker der Erde
Die Völker der Erde (People of the Earth) refers to a 1902 German Anthropology book written by Dr. Kurt Lampert. Purchased from an antiquarian book seller in Vienna during the artist’s SWICH residency at the Weltmuseum Wien, Kahlon cut-up the book and uses the original pages as a space for “talking back” to the book, its author, to the discipline of anthropology, to the representational violence of European colonial projects and to western knowledge production. The cumulative project now exceeds 300 drawings. Premiered at MEWO Kunsthalle earlier this year, the project was recently on view in the solo exhibition Are My Hands Clean? at Galerie Wedding in Berlin, Germany curated by Natasa Ilic.
In a recent essay in Texte Zur Kunst, Susanne Leeb wrote about Kahlon’s work with books, painting and portraiture: “Her series ‘Die Völker der Erde’ (‘Peoples of the Earth’) responds to the epistemic violence of these books—the title quotes one of them—with a gesture that establishes a different relation to the subjects of the photographs, a personal relationship ofrespect and solidarity by restituting (sometimes militant) agency. Both the idiom of book illustration and the crux of Kahlon’s specific creative approach come into view only in the rift between these two visual formulations: the reproduced print and the artist’s hand. The latter, in this connection, encompasses not only the artist’s individuality, as the critique of representation had long before, but also the use of the material as the medium of expressing solidarity with those individuals in the pictures.” (Susanne Leeb, “Idiom: The Minor ‘A’s’ of
Art”, Texte Zur Kunst, no. 108, December 2017).
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