Galerie Raum mit Licht


Ernst Koslitsch

We have to move the island

Opening: 07.03. from 4 – 6 pm
Exhibition: 10.03. – 17.04.2020

We look forward to welcoming you again from the 13 of May!

Wed - Fri 2pm - 5pm
or by appointment (+43 676 6362578)
Image © Ernst Koslitsch Studio

I asked Ernst Koslitsch a few questions about the upcoming exhibition, “We have to move the island” @ raum-mit-licht-gallery

 Ernsthaft, is that your exhibition title? We should start with your name first. How serious are you?

Ernst is an old German name that in modern German means serious. Dating back to 1095, the name Ernst then meant strong-willed and resolute. My father is called Ernst; we were born on the same day. So my parents decided to give me his name even though it had started going out of fashion in the late 50s.

Now, with age, I have come to appreciate my serious name and playing around with it. It started with a fun e-mail address when I was younger: Ernsthaft means seriously. It manages to get a smile out of dry bureaucrats when asked my e-mail address. I guess it’s because with my long messy hair, long dark brown and white speckled beard and laughing eyes I look anything but serious, so I kept it.

When I translate my name into English and explain how I play with it, I like to use the example of Oscar Wilde’s play The Importance of Being Earnest, a comedy in which the protagonists maintain fictional personas to escape everyday social burdens and obligations.

We Have to Move the Island – explain where the title comes from?

It is based on the TV series Lost (which unfortunately had the worst ending ever! What a downer!). Star Trek and science fiction in general, have been important influences in my life. In the Lost episode called Cabin Fever, one of the main characters, Locke, tells his companions, Ben and Hurley, that to save the island they have to move the island.

That is how I feel right now. I spent the last nine years on an island. Workspace, school, exhibitions, eating, shopping and connecting, all done with in a space the size of an island. In my studio on Aumannplatz in Vienna’s 18th district I am visited by all kinds of people. I have met lawyers who believe in aliens, Trekkie astrophysicists, all kinds of people who have had encounters with ghosts, men in suits talking to me about all kinds of conspiracy theories, to crypto specialists trying to change the world of finance. I have old ladies telling me stories of their hardship during and after the Second World War. I am the first to hear who has passed, moved on, failed or succeeded and who has been born.

Engrossed and also entrapped, constantly drawn in daily by life. A bubble that functions on its own, safe, clean, but gradually losing its inspirational touch, making escape the only possible means to grow more.

JJ. Abrams is not just the man who created not only sci-fi TV series such as Lost, Star Trek and Star Wars movies, he is a visionary, a brilliant mind that can see the world in its complexity and from this create another complete world in all its intricacy. 

Not only in Lost and Star Trek but in his book called The Ship of Theseus, a story within a story. The book has been described as being “part work of art, literary experiment, and love letter to the physical expression of books”.

Similar to my worlds, constructing mythology and Yellow Universe, which are fictional expandable worlds, mixtures of the familiar and the mysterious, full of enigmas and factual deviations.

How to build a universe that does not fall apart in two days

I discovered Philip K. Dick at quite a young age. I loved his books – Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The Man in the High Castle and Minority Report are some of his more famous books, later turned into movies and series.

My world being classically chaotic and very spontaneous, I found myself drawn to Philip K. Dick’s confession that he liked to create universes that fall apart, in order to see how his characters would adapt to change. I recognized this formula in my work. In 2007, a few months before my son was born, I found out that the title of my favourite art-fair frieze that year was how to build a universe that does not fall apart in two days.

Unknowingly for the world beyond, it forced me to hold on to this in quiet and to put that title to one side. In so many ways, that artist then was scared of being compared or being called a copycat. That no longer matters to me. We are virtually connected on so many planes and therefore influenced in so many ways, just everyone takes what they need, progress it and then expresses it in their own personal way.

If someone compares me to another famous artist, I am flattered, not hurt, but I still know that I am me and I see me in my work and that is the most important thing. I cannot stop myself from painting or building something just because it might resemble the art of somebody else. I do not do art that way. I stand in front of my pieces of wood or my canvas and then a process of flow occurs.

Is that an evolutionary artistic approach . . . developing and improving yourself comes towards my art practice, for example.

Building worlds

In life there are all kinds of ways in which you can build worlds. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, opened doors to a huge world, in which you could travel and in your own way build your own world or worlds.

The author J.R.R. Tolkien, built a world on paper that unleashed a fantasy in our minds. These worlds are all interwoven and inter-inspirational.

Ron Hubbard is a perfect example. He created a religion with over 40,000 followers, based on his fictional novels. Through ideologies portrayed in books and film we can connect and analyse ourselves, facilitating ourselves in formulating our story; in my case it has always been Star Trek.

Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek) created a futuristic world on screen that influenced decades of people. Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs co-founded Apple; they built worlds. Wozniak was a huge Star Trek fan. The main Star Trek actors, William Shatner  and Leonard Nimoy as Spock, were testimonials for Nasa. Uhura, the female bridge officer on the Enterprise, played a role in Nasa recruiting women.

Over the years, science fiction has played an important role in our development, acting as a model for a better world. In the case of the original Star Trek series in the 1960s, was exemplary.

Roddenberry often used the setting of a spaceship set many years in the future to comment on social issues of 1960s America, including sexism, racism, nationalism and global war. The main crew consisted of a complicated alien (Mr. Spock), a black man and women on the bridge and a Russian bridge navigator (this was at the time of the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union).

Star Trek also depicted one of the first interracial kisses on the screen.

Today you can create worlds in an even smaller scale. The only tool you need is the internet and social media, here you can build all kinds of worlds, fictional or real.

This is the matrix that fascinates me.

If your upcoming exhibition was a Netflix mini-series, what kind of a series would it be?

First off, a mini-series would never be able to cover it. I could easily create a TV series with at least seven seasons. Even though I hate soaps, I would probably place myself there. First off, I can attract more viewers there than in any other category. It would be fictional, including drama and emotions.

Episodes would have names like: 1. Invented truths; 2. Flatland; 3. Ernst Koslitsch – A lost-in-space oddity – 2020; 4. Dreams of electric sheep; 5. The dark side of the moon; 6. The search for Mr. Spock, and so on . . .

The protagonist would be me. The soundtrack would be from Daft Punk. Each episode directed by a different director, directors who have built worlds, like David Lynch, Michel Gondry, Peter Jackson, Lana and Lilly Wachowski and J.J. Abrams.

A non-linear and multi-layered story without a classical beginning. It simply begins and ends with an open or non-ending. Hollywood endings are lame.

The supporting cast would be made up of people who have influenced me in the past and present. It would take place in my yellow universe, a flatland. Expanding my universe continuously with sculptures, paintings and drawings. 

The paintings tell the stories, an interpretation of my ideas and things that influence me. Welcome to my world of constructed mythologies, gods, objects and mysteries like in the Lost episode, Through the Looking Glass.


Dominique Foertig, 2020