We are delighted to be starting the year 2015 with a very special exhibition conceived and executed by Markus Karstieß.

One formative artist for Karstieß and his work is Robert Smithson (1938-1973), with whose piece “Asphalt Rundown” from 1969 he deeply engaged himself. The original location of this first Land Art sculpture by Smtihson faded into obscurity right after its execution. During his scholarship at Casa Baldi last year Karstieß unearthed it from an abandoned stone pit near Rome in order to approach it cinematically. During the excavation the aspect of the sculpture Smithson was foremost concerned with appeared for the first time – that side which was so far only seen by the eyes of the earth.

Smithson’s sculpture is based on a engagement with entropy and addresses, at the end of the 1960s, the sealing of the earth in the Urban Sprawl. It marks as well the end of Abstract Expressionism in which the monumental gesture of a Jackson Pollock Dripping becomes reality. The model for his asphalt cast was a waterfall in New Jersey from Smithson’s childhood. As one of the first Land Art artworks “Asphalt Rundown” marks a radical use of the opportunities sculpture offers.

The work has “no beginning and no end,” Smithson said. The cast’s appearance was eventually caused by chance and is – like nature itself – unconditionally “beautiful” on its own accord. It might be seen as an artificial, eruptive phenomenon, which is in permanent flux – like a performance that is getting slower but never ends.

The existing photographs of the execution of “Asphalt Rundown”, taken by Claudio Abate, were in part believed to be lost for decades. During his research Karstieß was able to trace the photographer. Those rare photographies are now exhibited for the first time. Moreover Karstieß’ exhibition shows the film of the excavation of “Asphalt Rundown” as well as the remains of the asphalt and Karstieß own resulting artworks.

“….In his exhibition Karstieß captures his search for what remains of “Asphalt Rundown”. The exhibition includes the documentation of conversations with people that were present at the execution of “Asphalt Rundown”, e.g. gallery owner Fabio Sargentini and Claudio Abate, Abate’s photos that were taken during the event, Ephemera like the placard and the invitation card of Galleria L’Attico, as well as the visit and excavation of “Asphalt Rundown” itself. In his film “With the Eyes of the Earth”, which bears the same title as the exhibition, Karstieß walks along the slope where “Asphalt Rundown” took place, looking for some spots which, according to the photos of that time, might in all probability be still covered with asphalt and starts digging with a shovel to remove grass and soil.. Here we see the exploration of the very own artistic sources, the homage and at the same time destruction of an icon, a physical and psychological processing of the own roots. In one of the scenes an exhausted Karstieß lies on his back in the sunlight. It’s about 40 degrees Celsius and he has to take a break in order not to catch a sunstroke. There might be only few artistic moments being so honest in the dialogue with ones forefathers…..”

(excerpt by Sylvia Metz from the publication which will be released at the end of the exhibition)

Markus Karstieß, *1971 teaches in Munich, lives and works in Düsseldorf. Exhibitions include Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen; Kunstsammlung NRW K21, Düsseldorf; Museen Haus Lange Ester, Krefeld; Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art; Hatton Gallery, Newcastle; Museum Villa Rot; Krefelder Kunstverein; Galerie im Taxispalais, Innsbruck; Museum Baden, Solingen