Exhibition: Les Îles by Karl Dunér

In this exhibition, Karl Dunér’s work invites unhurried contemplation and encourages us to reflect upon the role of chance in art.
Two puppets

Life-size dolls move imperceptibly through space. Scenes are played in micro-theatres ringing with the sounds of the streets of Paris, among other places. Sculptures in the shape of an egg, a rock or a faceless skull recite poems or tell us their memories… Inspired by the traditional Japanese puppetry theatre named Bunraku, Karl Dunér’s sculptures reveal the poetry that can be created when algorithms and mathematics are used for artistic purposes. His “islands”, whose minimalism belie their cutting-edge technology, explore loneliness and isolation, reminding us of the fragility of existence and how we need contact, social bonds and friendship to make life meaningful.

Karl Dunér is also a man of the theatre. Born in 1963 in Lund, Sweden, he came to Paris in the 1980s and encountered Samuel Beckett. Fascinated by Beckett’s world, Dunér directed several of his plays. The artist also discovered, by chance and in the original French, the works of the Oulipo – Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle -, an innovative group of writers that was formed in the 1960s and that Dunér was among the first to bring to the attention to a Swedish audience. As a stage director, since 1990 he has collaborated in particular with the Royal Dramatic Theatre/Dramaten in Stockholm. Since 1997, he has developed an artistic practice which has been exhibited in a number of art centres and museums in Europe and Japan.

Les Îles is Karl Dunér’s first exhibition in France. It features ten artworks including several animated sculptures and multimedia pieces. Two of the works were specially created for the exhibition in Paris. Inspired by Raymond Queneau’s Cent mille milliards de poèmes (1961) and Georges Perec’s Je me souviens (1978), they highlight Karl Dunér’s deep and long-standing relationship with French literature.

WIth support from the Swedish Arts Council and the Odéon – théâtre de l’Europe. Warmest thanks to the actor Thierry Bosc, the engineer Anthony Clerc and the puppeteer Thomas Lundquist.

Useful information

Institut suédois 50 years in 2021! This event forms part of our anniversary programme dedicated to the theme of Friendship. Click here to learn more.