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Vox Populi

Edith Karlson

Edith Karlson’s installation called Vox Populi at the City Gallery that is comprised of more than 100 animal figures and rabbit droppings speaks about participating with acquiescent calm in the eternal circle of eating and being eaten. After the presentation of abstract motifs at the Köler Prize 2015 exhibition, Edith Karlson, a sculptor with great technical skill, has returned to the depiction of animals, which has been considered to be her trademark since 2010. Dogs, bears, lions and other animals in Karlson’s works should be viewed as allegorical, as symbols as they have been used in fables, fairytales and Christian art. Her works are always distinguished from cuddly toy animals by the perception of a moderate existential inevitability.


Edith Karlson’s Vox Populi is equivalent to the cause and effect relationships formulated by various religions – be it karma or original sin. She depicts the heads of various animal; each in the mouth of another animal. The motif of the “savage hunt”, with animals chasing one other and sequentially being caught in the teeth of the animals behind them, is familiar from Christian iconography. As is typical of Karlson, the central idea of Vox Populi is direct, radical and definitive: “Every shit is related to the shit that follows and forms one continuous strand of shit that no one can avoid.”


The installation combines various materials – organic, solid and flowing. At this exhibition, Karlson has moved from massively large moulds to exacting small-scale plastic art and ceramics. Previously, Karlson’s broad range of materials has included ceramic elements, but ceramics are central to this exhibition. The other important material is rabbit droppings, and the artist works with the meaning and aesthetics thereof.


Edith Karlson (b. 1983) graduated with an MA in sculpture and installation from the Estonian Academy of Arts in 2008. In 2006, she merited the Young Artist Award, and in 2015, the Köler Prize Public’s Choice Award. Karlson has also appeared at exhibitions with Jass Kaselaan under the name of Hudnoi and at joint exhibitions with Kris Lemsalu. Edith Karlson has trained with British artist Sarah Lucas, participated in the preparations for her exhibitions and those of the Gelitin group from Austria; as well as in the preliminary work for Kristina Norman’s project After-War. Her last exhibitions have been the 2015 Köler Prize exhibition at CAME; Beaten up by a Thug, Saved by Kindness in London; and the exhibition series Drama Is in Your Head I–IV, 2011, 2013, 2014.


The artist thanks: Arthur Arula, Raul Saaremets, Ingrid Allik, Lya Karlson, Johanna Ulfsak, Jass Kaselaan, Maria Ader, Katrin Kissa, Kris Lemsalu, Tallinn Zoo, OÜ Karite Pluss, Põhjala Brewery