ISSUES is pleased to present True Crime, Karl Norin’s first solo show at the gallery. The exhibition includes four new works of framed vacuum-cast garment and paper images as well as a video piece. Each work introduces themes such as isolation, loss and identity combining fragments of actual garments, digital and paper clippings of various images such as ghosts, extraterrestrial beings and maps. Blending fantasy with reality, some images are random abstractions while others are directly associated with Karl’s own life and the iconic Swedish crime author Camilla Läckberg.
True Crime is partially a response to Camilla Läckberg and her ten book crime series buzzing with fictitious murder, dark secrets and shocking discoveries in the small town of Fjällbacka, where Camilla and Karl are both from. In Camilla’s first book of the series Ice Princess real addresses and names of several of the 1,000 residents in Fjällbacka are used, including Norin’s. His family's namesake is dragged through the mud characterizing the novel Norins as a villainous family that traffic their child for drugs. The Norins even meet their demise in a deliberate house fire mid-novel.
Akin to Läckberg’s novels, the exhibition opens a portal between reality and fantasy. Karl and Camilla are radically different artists but they both play in a shadow world where fact and fiction begin to fuse. This liminal space is something we can all relate to thanks to the dawn of social media where what is real and what is fake is often hard to decipher.
Karl’s method of vacuum-casting objects such as plushies, fake fur and now, textile and paper, can lead viewers to believe they are observing a photograph or depiction of the real object. Ultimately, his method leads viewers to question their senses and ability to detect what is real and what is fake. The ability to perceive reality through our senses or other means has been contested in philosophy since Plato. Plato so distrusted our ability to ascertain reality or distinguish between real and fake that he describes the majority of humankind as prisoners in a cave perceiving a small fraction of reality that he conflates with mere shadows on a cave wall. Karl’s iconic vacuum-pressed fake furs take the blurred distinction between real and fake one step further by sourcing a mass produced acrylic render of one of the oldest materials used by man, animal fur. Is Karl trolling our grip on reality? In True Crime the collages processed material, in addition to motifs of real and imagined experience, confuse a strict narrative of fact and fiction leading us further into this shadow world.
The genre of true crime or accounts where truth is stranger than fiction is wildly popular in contemporary culture. True crime podcasts, docuseries and novels alike fascinate us and capture our attention but why? In a world where reality is increasingly similar to fiction and where populations grow yet we feel increasingly alone, maybe we are looking for clear lines between what is real and what is fake, some distinction that distracts us from the loneliness of existential malaise and gives us something we can all agree on. This flavor of reasoning resembles a Kantian belief in universal rationality but perhaps there is something more important than objective distinctions, especially when it comes to our understanding of reality. 19th century Western philosophy emphasized a new way of approaching reality, finding individual meaning.
True Crime, like Läckberg’s novels, draws us in and takes us down twisted paths with dead ends and revelations. The lines between good and evil, past and present, truth and lies become blurred and more similar than we would like to think; this is the exhibition equivalent of a page turner. In the end, it doesn’t matter if Karl’s collages are depictions of objects or the actual object or if the motifs within the collages depict reality or fantasy. What matters is the meaning we find for ourselves in the collages and exhibition as a whole. The true crime in this exhibition is blending reality and fantasy, but instead of leaving us in the midst of shadow, perhaps the exhibition can encourage us to leave Plato’s allegorical cave and find our own meaning in reality.
– Lauren Johnson
Lauren is a curator based in Stockholm and works at ISSUES.
KARL NORIN b. 1982 in Fjällbacka, lives and works in Stockholm.
Karl holds an MFA from the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm. In his truly unique process, Karl casts fake furs, newspaper clippings and various synthetic textiles in a vacuum using a clear resin. The result is an object-image, defined as a painting but made utilizing a sculptural technique. Karl also employs other mediums such as video, sculpture and landscape art.
Solo shows include Justitia at Belenius, Stockholm (2018) and Soosh Soosh… at Bill Brady, Miami, USA (2015). Group shows include Downtown Issues II at ISSUES, Stockholm (2023); Ghost in the Machine curated by Erik Berglin at Galleri Thomassen, Gothenburg (2022); Downtown Issues at ISSUES, Stockholm (2021) ISSUES #4 at ISSUES, Stockholm (2017), Malmö Sessions with Carl Kostyál, Malmö, Sweden (2019); At Six Gallery - Norin, Sjöberg, Göthlin, Peirone, Rupini, Retzlaff with Belenius at At Six, Stockholm; Friends in Need (2016) and Meet Your Maker (2014) at Carl Kostyál, Stockholm; Swedish Art: Now! at Sven-Harrys Konstmuseum, Stockholm (2016)and Think For Me, Please at Belenius, Stockholm (2013) and Nobody Knows You’re A Dog, Kalmar Konstmuseum, Kalmar (2012). ISSUES presented Karl at Market Art Fair in 2022. His work is represented in numerous private and corporate collections such as the SEB art collection.
Research and production for BG38847-5 done by Oda Wurnell.
Sometimes a party has to be just a party (review) Bohman, Therese. Expressen, 29/04/2022
Malmö Sessions Carl Kostyál Gallery, Malmö Sweden (review) Loyrette, Graziella. Gallery Extra, 04/08/2019
Karl Norin at Belenius (review) Danielsson, Jenny. Konsten.net, 11/05/2018
The Game Can Begin (review) Mattsson, Leif. OmKonst, 26/04/2018
Sven-Harry and the Golden Art Museum Luna, Rikke and Matias. I DO ART. 15/08/2016
Autumn Sonata – Sweden 2014 Petersson, Frans Josef. Kunstkritikk, 10/10/2014
Exhibition handout with text by Lauren Johnson (PDF, 590.19 KiB) ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––