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Kata Legrady opens exhibition at ZKM Centre for Art and Media Technology in Karlsruhe
Visitors look at an artwork called 'Pineapple' (multicolor) by the artist Kata Legrady (2011) on January 3, 2014 at the Centre for Art and Media Technology (ZKM) in Karlsruhe (Baden-Württemberg) as part of the exhibition 'Kata Legrady. Smart Pistols'. AFP PHOTO / DPA/ ULI DECK.

KARLSRUHE.- Kata Legrady’s sculptures, photographs and drawings have an irritating effect. While confronting the viewer with objects of violence, her works of art at the same time develop the effect of infantile objects of desire. Irrespective of whether in her works weapons are executed as drawings, photographs or as sculptures, Kata Legrady represents them all such that they appear in the greatest possible contrast. The weapons are decorated with colorful chocolate drops, with sumptuous pelts or bank notes. By way of very simple and aesthetic means, Kata Legrady presents what has defined the way of the world for thousands of years. Her fetish objects are a further development of surrealistic object art in the age of high gloss aesthetics. In the exhibition the rejects and monstrosities of civilization appear in the quaint garb of consumption – violence is coupled with “Luxe, Calme et Volupté” (H. Matisse, 1904).

The extremes in the work of Kata Legrady could not be greater: on the one hand, steel weapons and munitions, designed to maim and kill people, while on the other, friendly and colorful smarties evoking childhood memories, the desire for sweet things and carefree enjoyment. Here, the cruel, cold, glistening materials of war, there, flowers made of sugar; here hand grenades, there luxurious and sensual pelts. On the one hand sophisticated instruments of death, while, on the other, meticulously detailed delicacies, such as a saddle by Hermès that invites a ride on a colt, and which reminds one at once of Münchhausen and his cannonballs, or Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove. Employing Brechtian effects of alienation, Kata Legrady spins the two sides of the same coin that is inseparable from the evolution of homo sapiens.

Many aspects of the human being pervade Legrady’s works. The attributes of violence and power, luxury and childhood are unmistakable. Objects of violence are transformed into objects of luxury, while these, in turn, become infantile objects of love. Psychoanalysis has not only taught us about the power of sexus over the human being (S. Freud, W. Reich), but no less about the principle of power itself (A. Adler). The striving for power is among the most archaic driving forces of the human being, something which, today, is no longer carried out solely by means of violence. Capital, economic goods and economic dependencies represent augmented options of control over others. The luxury goods industry has evolved into one of the most powerful industries of the world: by profiting from the exploitation of human beings in countries permitting cheap labor it likewise represents a form of violence. Thus, human beings have power over other human beings by way of instinctual structures as well by economic structures. We live in a society in which weapons are ever present, whereby the threshold of violence has extended beyond all human proportions, as observed in incidents from Columbine High School to Anders Breivik. Civil and consumer society has become deeply militarized.

A native of Hungary, Kata Legrady’s sculptures, photographs and drawings are far from euphemizing violence. They have far more to do with its presentation and the insights that result from the reciprocal interplay between the objects of violence and those of desire and greed. Their weapons are Smart Pistols in the sense that, through the artist, they are rendered harmless.

Kata Legrady’s art reflects this social condition: the equation of wealth and luxury on the one hand, violence and exploitation on the other. Kata Legrady. Smart Pistols puts in question armament of all kinds, both military and economic, but also those used in the private sphere.

Today's News

January 5, 2014

Kata Legrady opens exhibition at ZKM Centre for Art and Media Technology in Karlsruhe

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