Knauf has flooded the entire gallery floor with perlite, a natural mineral that is industrially modified via heat, which transforms it into a light, pebble-like material, used in everything from construction, and water filtering to hydroponic greenhouse agriculture. Over 20,000 liters of this material have been unloaded in the gallery to form a landscape of dunes and hills. Here, a variety of components—oil columns, steel reliefs, and plant-like metal sculptures—co-exist in a radically sterile white cube environment, where the absence of organic elements leaves no potential whatsoever for organic processes to occur.
As a colonial artifact, the cactus speaks to the problem of thinking of landscapes as being “unspoiled,” a prevalent attitude during European romanticism, where artists sought out nature in pursuit of the sublime in reaction to the rationalism of the Enlightenment. Along the walls of the exhibition, Knauf presents a series of landscape reliefs in pierced sheet steel metal based on paintings by the romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich. Employing the same inflation method as with the cactus, these motifs are traced only to immediately become spatial or “blown up” by industrial processes.
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