an exhibition by artist Karin Gunnarsson

curated by Paul Robertson

7th Feb - 22nd March 2014

Summerhall is showing Karin Gunnarsson's Apparition; a solo show featuring photographs, video work and a major new site specific installation, informed by Summerhall’s former life as a veterinary college and hospital.

Karin Gunnarsson, is a Swedish born artist, based in Tokyo, Japan, working in photography and artist film. She graduated with an MA in Photography from the Royal College of Art, London, in 2009. She has worked professionally in stills photography since 2000 and have exhibited artworks in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Florence, New York, Ireland, Sweden and now Scotland. Between 2001-2005 she was part of an experimental sound act, C Loopseend, with electronic composer Noriko Uno (Stalk Records, Plato's Plates).

During her postgraduate studies she developed an interest in the moving image and produced as part of her graduation show a video installation 'Being It', in which she starred and performed as a Yeti-like character making traces through walking and burrowing in a snow covered landscape. 'Being It' was a starting point of an artistic investigation into narratives and formal constructions that explore symmetries between psychological processes and the physical body featuring ghosts, mythical beings and fantasy creatures.

‘Apparition’ is a project which begun in 2009 when the first rudimentary ghost installation was created in the studio and the diptych Peek-a-Boo was photographed. This was later exhibited in the exhibition Skin and Stories, 2010. The project has since included a few similar constructions in the studio, more images, a couple of moving image works and a printed mural.

The installation at Summerhall is Karin Gunnarsson’s first exhibition of the actual set-build; a structure normally confined to the artist studio. The intention is to show the process the artist is going through in her ongoing fascination with the most basic representation of ghost and how she formally plays with the materials to eek out relationships and narratives that goes beyond the mere surface she experiments with.


Main Room 1

‘Apparition’ Installation, Mixed Media

Room 2

Video Installation Loop ‘Apparition- Status Quo’


‘Summerhall Ghosts Black’ Giclee print 50cm x 23cm

‘Apparition Wall White’ Giclee print 70cm x 50cm

‘Apparition Wall Black’ Giclee print 70cm x 50cm

‘Ghost White’ Giclee print 40cm x 30cm

Room 4

‘Ghost Black’ Giclee print 40cm x 30cm

‘Peek-A-Boo’ diptych, 50cm x 40cm each

‘Summerhall Ghosts White’ 50cm x 23cm

More information and contact details can be found on


“For when things are so disposed that, when they are presented to us through the senses, we can easily imagine them, and so easily remember them, we say that they are well ordered, but if the opposite is true, we say that they are badly ordered or confused.”

Benedict De Spinoza, Ethics

There is a scene early on in the TV series Twin Peaks, where Sarah Palmer, in one of her apparitions, introduces us to the demonic entity Bob.

After the brutal death of Sarah’s daughter Laura, Laura’s best friend Donna calls to her home. Sarah begins to recognise her dead daughter in Donna’s face, “Laura! Oh Laura, my baby! Oh Laura my baby!” Sarah pulls Donna close, squeezing her uncomfortably tight. As she looks over Donna’s shoulder, still with unyielding clasp, Sarah has one more of her visions. Crouched behind her now murdered daughter’s bed is a still, silent figure. With long grey hair and piercing eyes, Bob stares back. Sarah begins screaming uncontrollably. She senses something we can’t know. Leland, her dark haired husband comes rushing into the room.

Bob takes possession of people (and an owl) and feeds on their feelings of fear and pleasure to commit horrible acts. At the very end we realise that Bob had taken hold of Leland. We learn that, the now silver haired man has actually killed his own daughter. For whatever reason, Bob truly terrified me. Even as I think about him now, I feel a certain sense of disquiet. But what connects this with your visit to this exhibition at Summerhall, incidentally a former veterinary college?

When Karin asked me to write about her Apparition project I thought of Bob. I remembered an incident that took place perhaps two years after Twin Peaks had aired. I was taking a lazy afternoon nap. It was warm and I had thrown the bedding off. Languidly, I began to stir. I turned to the floor. As I opened my eyes suddenly Bob was there, crouched and staring up at me. ‘FUCK!!’ I roared, me kicking crazily at the duvet on my bedroom floor. Heart thundering and a giddy realisation slowly began to set in. My then dark haired mother who had rushed to the scene found my muddled explanation both baffling and hilarious.

At the core of Karin’s work is an engagement with such combined discombobulations, how things sit together, their order of arrangement and the play of the essential divisions. Karin returns again and again to simple generic forms, broods long about what they might insinuate and then begins to layer them with signification outside of their familiar self’s. In a sense she plays with what it means to recognise something. The term recognition suggests a return to an already familiar cognition, already known. To evoke this familiar and to repeatedly return to it in your practise would suggest to me a refusal to accept the encounter with the other, but this isn’t what happens. A certain sense of disorder exists on returning to these manufactured recognized forms. What causes this?

I’d like to think that if you submit to the confusion of the work, in her way Karin (like Bob) takes hold of your feelings of fear and pleasure and lets them take possession of you. The struggle for recognition that takes place is not in the cognition of the rudimentary physical forms. That doesn’t stare back at you but rather your own familiar confused self, the play between its familiarity and strangeness. The sensing of something you can’t know.

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