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Karl Holmqvist

Born in 1964 in Västerås, Sweden. Works in Stockholm and Berlin, Germany.

Karl Holmqvist deliberately uses a casual home video style when he documents places and situation of special interest or symbolic meaning such as a Zen garden or Thai elephants at the Copenhagen Zoo. In his text-based art, a plethora of voices and impressions intersect: hit songs and poetry, literary quotations and references to art history, slogans and fashion tips, Öyvind Fahlström and Patti Smith, dada and Lady Gaga. His books, posters, installations, readings and performances inscribe themselves in a rich tradition of linguistic experiments on the boundary between visual art and poetry, from futurism to concrete poetry and conceptual art.

But Holmqvist’s art is not merely an echo chamber where contemporary pop culture and historical avant-garde experiments reverberate in new chords and harmonies, but also has a distinctly political dimension. His cut-ups and détournements aim to challenge today’s homogenised global mass culture, to untwist its expressions and formats from their given places and open up new cracks or create new dialects within its uniform language, seeking in this way to reach the intermediary position where language is destabilised and the meanings begin to shift, where the all-too-familiar again becomes strange, the banal is infused with meaning, and new resonances and tensions arise: positions between letters of the alphabet and figures, between the written and the spoken, between surface and space, between repetition and variation.

Plagiarism is necessary, progress implies it, said Lautréamont in 1870. Holmqvist’s art proves that this is more true than ever. To copy, imbibe and distort different forms of culture is not only a right, but a duty.


21 Poems

Karl Holmqvist

1997, 00:09:31


Karl Holmqvist

1998, 00:09:30


Karl Holmqvist

1995, 00:07:20

Rock Garden

Karl Holmqvist

2003, 00:06:40

Cars Kill

Karl Holmqvist

2003, 00:07:40

De kongelige elefanter

Karl Holmqvist

2002, 00:23:10

International Kleen

Karl Holmqvist

1995, 00:19:51


Karl Holmqvist

1997, 00:16:42


Karl Holmqvist

2002, 00:15:20

Rock Garden (Extended version)

Karl Holmqvist

2003, 01:16:15