Above my bed hang four posters covered in patterns of black and white propaganda, arranged to my liking and depicting several “worlds,” including technology, economy, sci-fi iconography, comics and urban planning to name a few. When asked whether I purchased these from Urban Outfitters or Anthropologie, I proudly proclaim that these are works of art, free of charge and straight from the Kemper Art Museum on Wash U’s campus. Jakob Kolding’s How to Build a Universe that Falls Apart Two Days Later, is currently on view in the Encountering the City: The Urban Experience in Contemporary Art exhibition in the Kemper’s Garen Gallery. His four poster designs cover an entire wall of the museum, carefully curated edge-to-edge to create a larger pattern of these “worlds,” as well as presented on the floor in four stacks for visitors to take home with them and re-curate the posters with their own artistic license.
The beauty of this piece is the patterns’ ability to be composed with infinite possibilities. It is therefore a “nonhierarchical structure” that depends on the changing combinations of the posters and the visitors’ use of them in alternate environments. The title of the work, taken from a science-fiction essay by Philip K. Dick entitled How to Build a Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later points towards Kolding’s objective to illustrate how no system in our universe is truly stable. The “worlds” he has juxtaposed and collaged together in these posters are co-dependent, constantly shifting their relationships based on their positioning in new contexts and orientations, both physically and conceptually.
Kolding’s posters can also be viewed in a more urban space in the southwest entrance of the Skinker MetroLink station, right at the edge of campus. Installed by the Kemper to honor Kolding’s desire to present his systematic posters in as many arrangements and environments as possible, the piece certainly takes on a different feel when viewed in such a transient, bustling space of transportation compared to the immaculate white walls of an art museum. Whether they are posted in a dorm room, plastering an entire museum wall, or seen in passing, Jakob Kolding’s posters/artworks reminds us that the universe is constantly “falling apart,” being reconstructed and re-configured, and surprising us with constant modification.
The artist, Jakob Kolding, is visiting the Kemper to talk about his work on Monday, December 1 at 5pm. Stay tuned for a follow-up post on his Artist Talk!
By Danielle Leventhal, student docent