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Rock Garden (Extended version)
Karl Holmqvist

‘Rockumentary’ of a visit to Ryoan-Ji Temple in Kyoto. Founded at the end of the 15th century it is one of the earliest and most famous dry rock garden arrangements using gravel in wave pattern formations and blocks of stones with shifting ‘stone face’ expressions. This is also where, in the early sixties American composer John Cage came to spend time at the nearby monastery thereby giving the place its nickname ‘John Cage Temple’.

Rock Garden exists in a six minute version and a 1 h 20 min version.

English title Rock Garden
Aspect ratio 1.33:1 (4:3)
Prod. format Generic SD-video
Duration 01:16:15
Color Color
Year 2003
Latest screening Feb 22, 2021
Rent this work for public screenings

About the artist

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.