Holger Kilumets is keenly aware of—and keen to explore—the conceptual and physical mechanisms of photographic representation. In a new body of work, Maps & Territories (2014), Kilumets uses visually witty vagaries to link a series of seventeen photographs that borrow tropes across subjects and structures—including art history, advertising, still life, television, theater, and film staging.
Trichromatic Vision Model (2014), the second image in the series of seventeen, depicts three whitewashed gallon paint buckets, each with a solid-colored sheet of paper or plastic hanging above it—blue, green, red—implying the color contained within. Trichromatic Vision Model is followed, in numerical sequence, by Kodak Anniversary (2014), a yellow-and-red commemorative beach ball balanced on a conventional white exhibition plinth, imprinted with the words “1880 Kodak 1980: American Storyteller.” While these works are next to one another in the series, they can be placed into different orders.
This variability is seen throughout the Maps & Territories series, and viewers can pair or group the images together in different combinations to create seemingly endless visual and textual narratives. Specifically, though, why a beach ball would be chosen to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of Kodak is somewhat confounding, yet humorous—another element that Kilumets uses in his work. Kodak Anniversary and the other works in the series beget many questions, in particular: Are these objects, sculptures, or photographs—representations, documents, or originals—and what are the differences and what might the variations be?
Mimicry (2014) and Palm Trees (2014), when viewed one after the other, appear distinctly related. Mimicry, as the title implies, is a pair of visually mimetic objects resting on two white sculptural plinths. Each plinth holds a pair of plain white vases—in the left vase, a single yellow tulip leans gently to the left, and in the right vase, a single red tulip inclines to the right. The two sets mirror one another nearly identically, causing a series of rapid eye movements from left to right and back to the left again as the eye strains to find the differences between the two. What subtle differences there are—a more open yellow tulip flower, perhaps a day older, and slightly different angles and shades of shadow—appear slowly and lead to an interesting comparison to the subsequent image Palm Trees.
The visual comparison staged in Palm Trees couldn’t be more different than the near-perfect replication in Mimicry. A half-inflated plastic palm tree stands on the left, bent slightly toward a standing photographic image of a grove of palm trees on a tropical beach. While dissimilar visually, these elements are in play as in Mimicry—the imaged representation juxtaposed with sculptural representation captured in a two-dimensional photographic picture plane. Kilumets begs his viewer to see the kinds of minute and humorous distinctions he includes in his photographs and incorporate those into how one sees objects, places, and spaces outside of the picture plane.
The works in Maps & Territories use a strikingly slick formal approach to pose some highly conceptual questions that the artist asks his viewers to wrestle with; they must become comfortable with the sense of not fully understanding these images, all the while reveling in the juxtapositions of comical images and motifs. While Kilumets’ work may leave the viewer with more questions than answers, Maps & Territories opens numerous possible explanations in the form of narratives that engage both visual and intellectual sensibilities.
Holger Kilumets is an artist living and working in London, UK. Kilumets holds a BA in Photography and Video Art from the University of Bedfordshire in Luton, UK. His work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions throughout the United Kingdom, including the MK Gallery in Milton Keynes, UK; and the University of Bedfordshire, Luton, UK. Additionally, his work is in the collection of the University of Bedfordshire, Luton, UK.