Kasper Kovitz

April 19, 2009


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Kasper Kovitz is an Austrian artist working in the United States for the last two decades. His practice looks at and mimics sense-making models, formally defined as “the ongoing retrospective development of plausible images that rationalize what people are doing”. The body, in Kovitz’s work, both individual and collective, is at odds with the existence of its own seams and borders. A recurring figure appears throughout Kovitz’s works, emerging regularly as both object and subject, viewer and voyeur; ‘Litmus,’ as it has been named, is an ambiguous prop and prop master. A serially cast mold of a head that the artist sculpted, based on a standard issue shooting target used by the FBI, ‘Litmus’ is a human form proposed in the absence of subjectivity, not to mention the bearer of an inconclusive namesake derived from both a chemical alkalinity test and a process of political vetting. Litmus is borderless and unfixed, and as its name suggests, a symbolic analog, a surrogate, a barometer, and an ideological experiment in unscripted identity. But, above all else, ‘Litmus’ is the eroded copy of an imprecise origin; symbolically human but conceptually inanimate and vehicular. A physical and instructional trope, the target itself is an educational prop and pedagogical implement. The pieces in Kovitz’s work range in format from drawings and paintings to sculpture, installations and public art projects. Kovitz also currently works on the promotion of a community-endorsed and collaboratively-realized monument to non-development and divestment: the ‘Human Exclusion Zone.’ This is a designated area of land set aside from human use, access and visibility, in perpetuity.


Kovitz’s work has been shown in a number of solo and group exhibitions internationally, including museums in New York, Los Angeles, New Mexico and Vienna. His most recent exhibition, Educational Devices, was at Denk Gallery in Los Angeles. He was awarded the MAK/Schindler scholarship, the International Studio and Curatorial Program twice, the Marie Walsh Sharpe scholarship and the Pollock-Krasner Fellowship. Kovitz taught at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon and is now Professor of Art at Scripps College in Claremont, CA.

calling the fish to order, Nova Scotia 1998

calling the fish to order, Nova Scotia 1998

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