Iosif Király (b. 1970) is one of the most iconic names of the contemporary art avant-garde in Romania. His work investigates the relationship between perception, time, synchronicity and memory through photography, installation-art, drawing and more recently, video. He has initiated, coordinated, and, together with architects, visual artists, and anthropologists, participated in research projects related to the changes having occurred in post-communist Romania: D-Platform, RO-Archive, Triaj, Tinseltown.

During the 1980s, Iosif Király became active in the mail art network, an international underground movement established by Fluxus. After 1989, he exhibited both individually and within the subREAL* group.Iosif Király’s works are found in numerous private and public collections such as the following: The National Contemporary Art Museum in Bucharest, 2000+ Arteast Collection, Moderna galerija, Ljubljana*; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Light Work, Syracuse, NY; Hamburger Bahnhof –Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin; Neue Galerie Graz am Landsesmuseum Joanneum; Museum of Contemporary Art, Ars Aevi, Sarajevo*; Q Contemporary, Budapest*; The Benetton Collection; Emprise Bank, Wichita, KS; Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena; European Central Bank, Frankfurt; Hypo Bank, Frankfurt

Somewhere I Can Never Be / Iosif Király at Camera E12 – Malmaison Studios

07.10 – 03.11.2022
Curated by Cristina Stoenescu

Throughout the history of art, shadows have been seen as substance: corners of refuge, or spaces of terror, or as ethereal metaphysical manifestations of the psyche, metaphors of the unconscious. There is something inextricably mysterious and mesmerizing about the distorted contours of reality. From Pliny’s story about the origin of painting, to the simulacra we imagine in Plato’s cave, the shadow is both attachment and darkness, a concoction of the occult and the simultaneous scientific proof of volume, location and texture of objects.
In Iosif Király’s work, the shadow of the photographer is a recurrent motif connected with a sense of performativity for the image and enacted by it. In many of Király’s works, the artist’s shadow appears as from nowhere, ominous, much like in Giorgio de Chirico’s paintings, looming as his own double.
However, there is a lighter, more poetic and even melancholic touch to the way Iosif Király uses shadows in his series of works: it is not so much a distorted image of the self, but a testimony of presence and simultaneous separation between the palpable real and the projected perception, between the body casting the shadow and the more permanent nature of the photographical proof. At the same time, the lack of a point of origin of the casted shadows is a tell of the post-photographic production, where many places and times are converged digitally on layers, so there is no one decisive moment, nor a singular staged happening. Moments passed are artificially brought together, condensed, much like the visual media conglomerate of our times, but also much like our own memories shifting, juxtaposing, mixing into one another. Shadows appear and reoccur as ghostly signatures of thrown perspectives and intrusions of reality.
The show focuses on this reoccurring effect of memory/photography/time-space-making throughout the artist’s Reconstructions (2000 – ongoing) series, while also indulging into his more experimental works on the topic of the shadows. The exhibition features a poetic print series of forest shadows, where Iosif Király seems to explore the more mythological nuances of photography and shadow as related mediums, in the vein of Boltanski’s recurrent associations between the two. A screening of the more recent Sala Omnia’s photographic performance delves into the architecture and history of the former Communist party assembly hall, which may remind the viewer of Robert Wiene and Willy Hammeister’s The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari or other iterations of Expressionist cinematography.
The inconspicuous, silent nature of shadows allows them to take on these multiple roles and capture our imagination, inhabiting impossible spaces, going somewhere where we never can be. But they are stuck to the souls of our feet and perhaps set free only in virtual contexts, the way Király subtly demonstrates in his Reconstructions. In the story of a man who sold his shadow, Adelbert von Chamisso’s Peter Schlemihil is shunned by society, having been bargained out of his shadow by the devil, suggesting that there might be something further hidden between the materiality of the body, soul, and consciousness, immaterially conjured, digitally-enduring or otherwise ephemerally sun-bound.


ARAC is a non-profit organization founded in June 2012, in order to produce and promote contemporary art in Romania and abroad. The initiative of the 58 Plantelor Residency belongs to Anca Poterasu, gallerist and ARAC President. The first edition of the Residency took place in 2015 and it was financed through a grant offered by Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and the Romanian Government.