Klodin Erb’s Orlando series is based on the eponymous novel by Virginia Woolf, in which a poet lives for over five centuries and mysteriously changes sex. So far the series comprises nearly two hundred mostly small painted portraits in a wide range of different styles. The subjects are male, female or of undefined gender. The series is, on the one hand, a study in portrait painting that also explores “the history of art and the time inherent in and associated with it”, as the artist explains. It’s also an investigation of her own identity as a painter, on the other hand.
“The sheer quantity of images makes it possible to immerse oneself, even lose oneself, in the faces,” writes Erb, “transforming the viewer into a universal being in a timeless existence.” Paradigms of demarcation and identification are dissolved as a result and reworked into a larger context (I am many, I am you, etc.).
Klodin Erb’s artistic exploration of identity was fleshed out during a conversation over dinner in a pavilion by Lake Zurich. The object of this event was to dispense with everyday egos by donning costumes and make-up and, in the experimental setting of a performance-art dinner, tap into a meta-ego in order to discuss the themes of the Orlando series: identity, gender and role models, the construct of time, ageing and the longing for eternal life/youth, humanoids and artificial intelligence, the last human. The transcript of this conversation runs through the book and ties it all together.
With an interview between the artist and Kathleen Bühler, Jacqueline Burckhardt, Finn Canonica, Gregory Hari, Susanna Koeberle, Nina Kunz, Katarina Lang, Chris Luebkeman, and Romeo Koyote Rosen.
Published by Edition Patrick Frey, 240 pgs, 31.4 × 24.5 cm, Softcover, 2022, 978-3-907236-32-1