Sculptor Caspar Berger (1965) studied in the Netherlands at the AKI Academy for Art & Design in Enschede and at the Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht. One of his greatest inspirations is the Italian High Renaissance. Berger takes the self-portrait as the point of departure for an exploration of the relationship between interior and exterior, reality and image, original and replica, and the effect of the fragment and the whole
Following his successful series of life casts of family members (Family, 1999-2007), Berger went on to make an impressive series of self-portraits, producing silicon casts of his own skin to create final works in a variety of materials, including silicon, bronze, silver and sometimes even gold. This became his Skin series.
In the history of sculpture one seldom encounters the genre of the self-portrait – or ‘portrait with mirror’ (ritratto allo specchio) as referred to by the early modern Italian painters. It is of course much more difficult to get a three-dimensional view of oneself than a two-dimensional one, with the result that sculptural self-portraits long remained a rarity. Berger has access to modern techniques, however, which enable him to engage in a continual re-evaluation of the self-portrait and to make work whose central subject is his personal exploration of his own body and the world. As well as approaching the autonomous self-portrait from the viewpoint of its technical and physical limitations, he examines its historical, mental, and social qualities.
In 2012 Berger turned his attention from the outside of his body – his skin – to its inside, the Skeleton. For his Skeleton project, Berger used the very latest technology to lay bare the invisible. He first had his entire body scanned in one of the world’s most advanced CT scanners and then used a 3D printer to make exact replicas of sections of his skeleton. Using these latest techniques to reproduce his own skeleton demonstrates just how advanced this technology and medical science are, while also allowing Berger to exploit the meaning- the potential of the skeleton, that confrontational symbol of death and proof of the wonder – and incomprehensible complexity – of life.
In 2015 Berger began his project Universe, which centres on autonomous thought and individual orientation. Consciousness, the personal mental world, is most physically demonstrable in the space within the skull. It is here that the universe takes shape, and from here that a person exists.
The basis for the project is the work Universe/Self-portrait 45. This casing cast in gold encloses an identical image of the physical space within the maker’s skull, and appears to have the characteristics of a reliquary. This inner space has been made tangible using a CT scan and 3D printer. The casing is sealed by means of a title deed, with which the speculation about its contents begins.
The Universe project is work in progress. Caspar Berger is currently working on a series of life-size sculptures. Through the concept of the case or cover, Berger explores the isolation of various ideologies, religions and power structures, inviting the viewer to reflect on his or her own position, or universe.