Interview with Karim Forlin

Karim Forlin, an artist originally from Ticino, creates a new production starting from the gardens of Villa Heleneum and their stories. As a keen observer of the territory, he first deciphers the multitude of signs that he detects on site. His practice consists of exploring in particular the different meanings that simple figures can suggest, the narratives they evoke, the systems they establish, the benchmarks and the limits they create. He is thus interested in the symbols that populate our world or rather in the way in which language and colors inhabit and order the landscape, studying the representations of cadastral markings such as the signage of cities, or these signs that are sometimes found in the forest to indicate a path or tell the history of trees.

The clues he finds in the surroundings of the villa lead him into a labyrinth of assumptions and constructions, establishing a dialogue with the space. Stones make the shape of a sun on the ground. In response to this orb and its rays (which suggest the ramifications of past paths), Karim Forlin builds an octagonal shape made from assembled benches. Each bench is marked with a letter from the old Lugano alphabet* and the whole piece makes up the word “apertura” (opening). The seat thus delimits an interior/exterior space of thoughts and actions, an agora and an arena, inviting solitary contemplation as much as collective debate, ritual as much as performance, tributes, and links between the Villa and other circles of energy and culture, from Eranos to Monte Verità. The color here, pink, is also sign and signal. A few steps away, at the top of a staircase that no longer leads anywhere, is a blue which catches the eye. The artist restores depth to a door that time has made invisible. The brilliant ultramarine lacquer then reflects daylight and creates a bridge between the azure of the sky and the lake, a vanishing point or an exit to another landscape, shaped by human.

*Lepontic, a continental Celtic language spoken in a region of about 100 kilometers around Lugano, in the lake region between northern Italy and southern Switzerland, from the 7th to the 2nd centuries BC.

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