Kunstmuseum aan zee Collecties van
de Vlaamse Gemeenschap
Stad Oostende


Comitee Mu.ZEE 2.0 introduces : Enter #5 Karl Philips - ETA (Estimated Time Of Arrival)

ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival)
Karl Philips

We see three stacked volumes: wrapped, monumental postal packages. The stacked sculptures are three enlarged logos of well known courier delivery companies: FedEx, DHL and TNT. Every package was deliverd by the company which logo it represents.

As suggested by the title, this sculptural project draws our attention to the process of transportation: the procedure an artwork goes through from when it leave the artist's studio untill it arrives at the place where it's exposed. Hiring a delivery company is a symptom of corporate activity so we could even be tempted to see it as a wonky status symbol for a young entrepreneur or an ambitious young artist. But the image Philips sketches with it shows an, apparently useless, dadaistic mechanism. Every company only transports its own logo. Maybe this self-referential image symbolizes the dubious morals and the powerless freedom of an artist who maintains himself in artistic circuits with artworks that breathe institutional critique.

On closer inspection the tone gets more complex: on the side of each sculpture we see an opened hatch, through which we can see the inside of the shapes. The hollow, normally invisible side of the image in which, keeping in mind the context of transportation, a stowaway could travel along leads to a moment of astonishment with the viewer. A knod to a potential human prescence, caused by unveiling an entrance to the "selvedge" of the image, refers to the idea of the stowaway and to the topicality of the refugees. Maybe the stowaway was the artist itself, the actor in his own scenography. This way, the forced space for a potential physical trace becomes an almost ironc way to remind us of "the artist's hand": using the ambiguity of the sign, a suggested prescence changes the image. Think, for instance, about Gustave Courbet's "The Meeting" in which the artist revalues himself as the protagonist of the picture, a precedent for further artistic developments in the 19th and 20th century. Maybe that is what Karl Philips' suggestive constellation tries to be: a precedent.

A precedent, a predecessor, a proposal for myth formation. A story is being suggested, an expectation. The title "Estimated Time of Arrival" implies that we haven't yet reached our destination, that this is something that 'comes before'. It may influence the future but how and when is not sure yet, it is estimated. The most important thing is that Philips initiates the endeavor. Like Epeius, the designer of the myhtological Trojan horse, he also seems willing to place himself inside of his own creation and to become one of the heroes himself. But we shouldn't forget that Epeius, the most talented carpenter of the Greek Army, is a fictional character, most famously described by the poet Homer.

A poetic foundation may even provide us with the best perspective on the approach Karl Philips displays here. He indicates a border between partaking in society and revealing its selvege, a border between heroism and solitude. Like we honor our heroes with a statue on a pedestal in our public space, maybe this layered scenic proposal is a salute to the builder. But it's also a call for heroes to ride along.

Wim Van der Celen


Overview past exhibitions »

11/11/2016 - 02/04/2017