Eri Kassnel

Born 1973 in Timisoara, Romania. Lives and works in Diedorf, Germany.


Below the surface
Letters from Utopia

Video, 3:45 min loop. 49 pieces (WIP), installation, collage, photography, different papers, thread, wax on paper each about 30 x 20 cm; 6 m2

Below the surface

In this video I present my artwork Below the surface. It is an old family album with old photographs. I worked on it and added some of my own pictures, which I manipulated in a way, so they would look old. For the beholder it might be hard to distinguish the old photographs from the new. By doing so, the present melts into past and reality into fiction. Page by page, layer by layer, the viewer immerses deeper below the surface of a cryptic tale. In this piece of art I investigate the relationship between patina and its emotional impact on memory and association.

Letters from Utopia

The handwritten letter as a common medium of communication is a relic. The letter used to be a symbol of physical absence and mental nearness between people. It is emotionally loaded – why else is it treasured into boxes or burned in anger? In this work the “letters” operate as metaphorical bridges between here-and-now and an idealized location from the past, which only exists in the memory.

This piece of art belongs to a work in progress, which consists of 49 pieces so far; 99 are planned. They are composed of private and historical photographs, and old letters. The cutting of a picture is a destructive act. The re-stitching is violating and healing at the same time, like suturing a scar. I choose the technique of collage because I imagine that the act of remembering is a comparison. The many letters hang like votive-panels on the wall, placed side by side. They occupy the room. Utopia turns into an obsession, a trauma.

Artist Statement

As humans, we recognize ourselves by remembering. This is the evidence of existing in a chronological context, which forms identity. The loss of memory can lead to serious identity crises. But memory can also be manipulated unconsciously, if the instinct of self-preservation demands it. People collect proofs like photographs, documents and letters to verify their memories. In this, I identify an existential doubt. Can I trust memory? Who am I really? If I leave no trace, have I ever existed?

In this area of conflict I am interested in man’s subjective sensations and his capability to remember, to forget, to associate and to create – consciously or not – his own Utopia. Thus, remembrance is like a personal relic and the human body nothing more than its reliquary.