Written by Dhia Dhibi. Published on 22 November 2022.
Krištof Kintera is a Czech Republic sculptor and installation artist, he lives and works in Prague. His work is often distinguished by its grandeur and spatiality presence, by its entirely recycled components, and especially by its conceptual formats that interrogate ecological issues. The sense of parodical dark humor is omnipresent in almost all his artworks, by which the artist explores different far-reaching vital topics. When I first beheld Krištof Kintera’s artwork, it completely absorbed me. The large scale, the absurdity of trash abundance sculpted in various reinterpretations, the utterly lavish guise that transcribes tremendous effort… it all made me construe another perusal of banal reality. It made me contemplate upon each work’s constituents and wander in its details. I discerned a sort of contemporary Post New Realism aspect to his work. “Poetic recycling of urban, industrial and advertising reality,” The words of Pierre Restany lingered in my thoughts when I examined the process of Kintera’s artworks. However, his poetic recycling presented a more thoughtful and ecologically engaged substance.
His main playground is the junkyards, these piles of scattered random objects and trash stacked on top of each other chaotically; he is mesmerized by the seemingly infinite possibilities and the charm of spontaneity that is presented through digging in these piles. Objects seem to be a crucial component in Kintera’s work, they narrated a story. He is often fascinated by the implicit and mysterious history engraved on its object surface. It presented an invitation for him to compose a greater statement with each object playing a role in this grander saga. “The idea of redefining objects found in the junkyard fascinated me; to present them in another context that offers a scope on our environmental reality.” Says Krištof. Junk carries a testimony of reality, it holds an “Intrinsic value” as Arman confirms.
Upon my discussion with the artist, I started dissecting these concepts to further elucidate his artworks’ intricacy. Starting with his installation “Post-naturalia”, Kintera tries to overlap two worlds that we often tend to think are opposite, Nature and Technology. This juxtaposition conducts us, the viewers, through a mirage that manifests as a botanical exuberance sprouting in the exhibition space at first sight. However, through a second inspection and as we look closer at this intricate camouflage, we realize that this flora is entirely generated out of electronic boards and wires. The large-scale installation is weaving a loom that displays these two contrasting aspects of our lives through this facade of a rather industrial recycling garden only to mimic nature’s mechanics. Mother Nature in this work becomes an electronic motherboard and the analogy synthesizes a whole dimension where nature and technology are co-existing, conflicting and learning from one another.
I asked Krištof about the very genesis of this installation, he confirmed that the moral of his story with this artwork was somewhat premeditated. He knew that these seemingly polar opposed components of our lives converge to the same grander organism of the universe; Technology is Nature’s fetus and cannot autonomously detach itself from its origin. The artwork emphasizes the conceptual and aesthetical similarities between the two entities. Even when analyzing the very origin of each plant, the mechanism that nurtures each tree; the roots, we find that his installation shifts our perception to cables and electrical wiring as an equivalent in this analogy. Therefore, Technology is not an ex-nihilo invention but more of a rebellious child of nature that constantly shifts a metamorphosing restless change of its predecessor’s passage. Nevertheless, somewhere along this conflicting dynamic, a symbiotic inevitable connection interlinks these two siblings and illustrates a grander picture of our universe. “I found the similarities in this tandem so impressive. It led me to realize that we are a part of one huge mechanism which behaves in the same principles,” affirms Kintera.
I often wondered if this installation is a post-apocalyptic dystopian visualization or an outcome of our obsessive use of technology and striving for survival. I thought it is a paranoid vision of what our actions as humans and our abuse of nature could lead to. But the artist is playing two keys that melt into the same note, he acknowledges the damage which our excessive behavioral pattern of technological impulse could cause but he is also suggesting a reunion between them; a common ground where they merge into a fascinating new nature, a nature where the impact of human is not negated, a posterity to this descendant, a post-state of nature, a “Post-naturalia”…
Deliberating on this enchantment with Humanity’s ramifications on its habitat, it was inevitable for me to not query Krištof about another equally monumental piece, “Out of Power Tower”. The story began with an ordinary encounter of perfectly packed stacks of batteries at a shop, colored and embellished by typical commercial slogans “Everlasting, super heavy-duty power FOREVER!” Kintera was intrigued by this item of daily banality; he saw a dimension of aesthetical value yet a consumerism manifesto in the stratification of these batteries. Quite instinctively, he started collecting them from trash and junkyards, and upon his fascination; he investigated their insides only to discover the extremely toxic black chemicals that completely contrast their colorful seductive façade. He often referred to his work as a sort of dwelling “between fatal and banal” which is also a starting point for this awe-inspiring sculpture.
At first, He built small prototypes of towers made entirely out of these collected batteries. The towers gradually started to expand to a mimesis of skyscrapers, and then there were more buildings …. And then there was a metropolis! The sculpture works in the same way as “Post-naturalia” fools the viewer at first encounter; we primarily think it is a simple architectural model of a city presented in a rather industrial metallic manner. However, gazing into its structure we realize the insanity of the approximately “half million” batteries, as the artist states, used to erect this complex urbanism. On a more detailed level, we notice that the poisonous chemicals inside the batteries bleed on the surface of the towers emphasizing the incongruity of the Exteriority/Interiority dichotomy that Kintera is oscillating between.
This duality, which he often utilizes in his works, is particularly shedding light on the nature of our power-crazed habitat in this sculpture. Humanity’s obsession to build an exuberance of edifices, but at what cost? … Krištof referred to the sculpture as “an alarming call to see beneath the surface,” this exclamation of concern is giving us a moment to think, consider our actions, see, and contemplate upon our habitat. The distress of gazing beyond the frontage of our seemingly advanced abode, this claimed proof of how humans evolved to achieve the conquest of land by power, is only leading us to re-examine the impact of this so-called power. The alarm of this sculpture does not cease or limit its warning to batteries only; it conveys a grander picture of civilizations abusing resources and recklessly embedding their survival without pondering about its consequences. Therefore the artist insists “to show the toxicity of our habitat, how we live in this extremely toxic chemical invaded world.” Kintera is offering us a confrontation with our actions. He is presenting our trash, quite literally, in another format that amplifies the impact we’re inflicting on nature. It is a hyper-state mirroring what our ecologically irresponsible acts have led us to. “Art can present a mirror. And I’m just offering a gaze and an invitation to contemplate into that mirror.” denounces Kintera.
Whether by presenting an artistic mirror for humanity to peer at the reality of our environment or by raising questions of what is yet to come through the large scale that “amplifies the intensity of the experience of the sculpture”. His artworks rely essentially on the responsiveness of the recipient. He acknowledges that art, although powerful, cannot radically change our ecological situation. Nevertheless, it could penetrate the psyche of the viewer and interrogate something in them. A certain something that would hopefully propose an actual plan of action. Kintera’s work bestows a Biofact, an amalgamation aftermath of what life is transmuted by the hybrid of technology and nature. On one hand alarming, and the other fascinating; he unfolds environmental questions that tackle the very fabric of our habitat. Nonetheless, he remains a propitious optimistic outlook for where humanity is going from here, a vital urge to hope for a better tomorrow …