Ernst Caramelle

Ernst Caramelle is a conceptual artist who integrates various perspectives on the theoretical, visual, linguistic and technical-material levels in order to construct new dynamic relationships between things, ideas, spaces and images. One of Caramelle’s works, which subtly infiltrates Vienna’s public space, provides programmatic and methodic clues to his artistic thinking: a 19th-century shop entrance bears a sign with the words Uhren – Adolf Roman [Clocks – Adolf Roman], done in simple, restrained lettering. Since 1988, this sign has been joined by another, formally identical one directly next to it, virtually a twin, on which is written: Ideen – Ernst Caramelle [Ideas – Ernst Caramelle]. Caramelle’s work with art, about art, and as art is based on precise ideas and concepts for which formalization he has developed an open system that enables him to examine various contexts, shifting them, often ironically questioning them, and ultimately creating new relational networks. For him, the object is to work productively with questions, not for the purpose of producing seemingly right answers, but rather in order to keep the field of art open as a cognitive process in which the position of the artist, like that of the observer, is just as often at stake as is the idea of the artwork and of art itself.

For Caramelle, since his early beginnings, this has included the integration of photography and video into performative acts and situative settings for the purpose of methodically examining the ideas of reality, time and space, while simultaneously reflecting on the ways in which these media themselves function. In doing so, he positions a video monitor in front of an object, such as a person, a tree or a radiator, so that the monitor covers a certain area of the object. The monitor’s screen, however, produces an image of precisely this covered area, allowing the pictured object to appear complete after all. Video technology is thus employed not in order to reproduce an action or a movement, but rather to simulate a still image and thus shift and interweave various visual elements; it is a medium-specific investigation, which Caramelle characterizes as “completions and disassociations of interrupted reality.”

Further media central to Caramelle’s conceptual thought and work are his drawings, sketches, written pages and printed works. He published around a hundred of his drawings done between 1972 and 1979 under the title Blätter [Pages]; in these, he condensed his conceptual ideas into the smallest-possible format with intellectual clarity and poetic wit.



1952, Hall in Tirol / AT


Please follow this link for a selected bibliography available at the ERSTE Foundation Library
Staedelschule, 1982
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  • Photo: Adam Sakovy