In WUNDKANAL Golles traces recent traumas in European history through sculptural representations of disfigured fragments of the human body. Comprising of sculpture in bronze and resin as well as glass and wood installations, the solo exhibition is the result of the artist’s ongoing research into the horrors of the 20th century; the Second World War, the Holocaust, and the Chernobyl disaster.
It has been 32 years since the open-air graphite fire of the Chernobyl accident lofted atomic fragments into the atmosphere. With an existing time frame of more than a hundred thousand years, the reverberations of its destruction and death, fiery and merciless, will be felt for generations to come with active radionuclides scattered around the globe. The Chernobyl disaster marks a catastrophe in time, caused by an inextinguishable fire – the evil light force of nuclear holocaust that has escaped control.
As in Romanian poet Paul Celan’s Holocaust poems of dust, ashes and residua, the image of fire is for Golles on the one hand a striking and blinding destructive power, on the other, a force of revelation exposing the heinous crime. The fire annihilates and causes decay, at the same time illuminating the night, revealing the surface of a false reality. For Golles the nuclear fire of Chernobyl sinisterly echoes the fire of the mass graves and cremation sites of the Holocaust, but has yet a different, synthetic glow. Accordingly, the artist’s dark fragmentations of the human body, like devastated wastelands overcome by flames, describe man’s shattered and fragmented existence in contemporary terms.
The horrors of 20th century Europe have previously been interpreted by post-war artists, most famously by Anselm Kiefer, and modern sculptors such as Germaine Richier and Alberto Giacometti have made the suffering human figure a symbol of post-war trauma. As contemporary sculptor Golles places himself deliberately in the traditions of the monumental bronze as well as in the synthetic material of resin, but according to Golles the ‘whole’ body becomes impossible to represent. Instead, the fragment stands for the only realization in contemporary times, unfolded by the artist through scabrous, diseased, beaten away metal forms.
A ‘Wundkanal’ is a gunshot wound – the trajectory of a projectile – how it enters and exits the body. In WUNDKANAL Golles confronts the resistance of matter, exposing the body as shield, the shell from which we perceive the world and understand our existence in it. There is, Golles seems to imply, an open wound of history, still smouldering, which will take generations to heal.