Karen Kramer’s work often takes the form of mythologising natural phenomena — embedding a critique of putative distinctions between the natural and manmade.
The intersection of human and animal as well as terrestrial and marine habitats frequently serves as the thematic and conceptual framework of the work and is often prompted by a trauma or disaster.
Karen Kramer graduated with a BFA from Parsons School of Design, New York, in 2003 subsequently working in graphic design for the Center for Coastal Studies in Cape Cod Massachusetts. In 2013 Kramer made a shift in her career completing the MFA Fine Art at Goldsmiths, University of London. She has since exhibited internationally. Selected screenings and exhibitions include: West Space, Melbourne, Australia, 2017; E-WERK Freiburg, Germany, 2017; Pyeong Chang Biennale, Gangneung, South Korea, 2017; Bildmuseet, Umeå, Sweden, 2017; Galerie Fatiha Selam Paris, France, 2015; Jupiter Woods, London 2015. The Gallery Apart, Rome, 2014; Oyoyo, Sapporo, Japan, 2014; Arti et Amicitiae, Amsterdam, 2013; and DOX Centre for Contemporary Art, Prague, Czech Republic, 2013. In 2016 Karen Kramer was selected for the Jerwood/FVU Awards Borrowed Time.
The Eye That Articulates Belongs on Land
HD Video / 22:57 min / 2016
Shot in Shiretoko National Park in the far north of Japan, and within watchful radius of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor, Karen Kramer’s ‘The Eye That Articulates Belongs on Land’ offsets beguiling images of unspoilt nature with graphic visual evidence of the ‘re-wilding’ of the landscape around the atomic plant since particular areas became off-limits to human access. Unseduced by romantic notions of wild nature as a wellspring of recovery or transformation, Kramer’s film is a reminder of how our perceptions of the natural environment are often deeply subjective, and prone to being clouded by myth, or partial knowledge.
‘The Eye That Articulates Belongs on Land’ was commissioned for the Jerwood/FVU Awards: Borrowed Time, a collaboration between Jerwood Charitable Foundation and FVU, in association with CCA, Glasgow and University of East London, School of Arts and Digital Industries. Supported by The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation. FVU is supported by Arts Council England. Field research in Japan which resulted in Karen Kramer's proposal for “The Eye That Articulates Belongs On Land” was supported by Arts Catalyst and NPO S-Air.
HD Video / 08:34 min / 2015
Epona’s Well is a body of found fragments of artefacts and organic remains spanning centuries and diverse species (some already, some soon extinct); fractured gadgets from the early days of technological acceleration juxtaposed with fossils; a hex; and other elements. The objects have been harvested from the shores of the river Thames, extracted form an abundant and cryptic archive of discarded remnants, sculpted or disfigured by the current.
– Hanna Laura Kaljo
HD Video / 11:45 min / 2013
‘Limulus’ is a speculative fiction about the encounter between a piece of ocean debris (a deflated mylar balloon), a horseshoe crab and a 1974 Seeburg ‘Olympian’ jukebox. It addresses two kinds of obsolescence – one, a redundant music machine, the other the once indispensable horseshoe crab whose extinction by over-fishing has been stayed so it’s blood can be harvested for a clotting agent with widespread pharmaceutical use. With synthetic alternatives available the horseshoe crab’s protection is at risk but the contrasting timescales of the two – one machine made history in decades, the other under threat after 450 million years on this earth – gives pause for thought; both about our relationship with the non-human and of our own finitude as a species.
Further to addressing the act of storytelling and formal categories like the allegory or the fable, ‘Limulus’, reflects pressing ecological realities and the way that conceptions of the ‘natural world,’ elemental force and deep time are affected by them. Focusing on oceanic life and the demands on it of human industries, it highlights the interface between scientific fact and mythic fiction in human understanding of the world.
A note on sound: The narrator’s voice was made possible by the Cornell Ornithology Laboratory who provided vocalization of 15 different animals, which were spliced together to make a “voice”.