December 17, 2018 - Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz - Mario Pfeifer: Again / Noch einmal
December 17, 2018

Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz

Mario Pfeifer, Again / Noch einmal (still), 2018. 2-channel video installation, 42 minutes. Farbe, Stereo. © 2018 VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn. Courtesy Mario Pfeifer & KOW.

Mario Pfeifer
Again / Noch einmal
October 3, 2018–January 6, 2019

Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz
Theaterpl. 1
09111 Chemnitz
Germany

kunstsammlungen-chemnitz.de
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The Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz is showing two video installations by Mario Pfeifer Again / Noch einmal (2018) and Über Angst und Bildung, Enttäuschung und Gerechtigkeit, Protest und Spaltung in Sachsen / Deutschland (About anxiety and education, disappointment and justice, protest and division in Saxony, 2016-ff.). Mario Pfeifer’s Again / Noch einmal garnered international success at the Berlin Biennale this summer. For this 2-channel video installation Pfeifer, who was born in Dresden in 1981, reconstructed an incident that took place in 2016 and in which, after a row with a supermarket cashier in the Saxon village of Arnsdorf, Schabas Al-Aziz, a refugee from Iraq, was physically harassed by four local residents and later tied to a tree. Whereas the four men were allowed to return home unobstructed by the police, Al-Aziz was taken to the police station and then released again after a certain length of time. Almost a year later, in April 2017, the court case relating to the incident was opened and dismissed after just a few hours. Al-Aziz, who suffered from epilepsy, had meantime died under unclear circumstances, found frozen to death in a forest. The court saw no public interest in clarifying the incident or prosecuting the men involved. With the support of research done by investigative journalists, Mario Pfeifer asks about the reasons for the dismissal of the case. The four men clearly offended against legal norms and rules of behaviour. But why do the artist and the court evaluate this differently? In the course of the work the artist also touches on the issue of how norms differ regarding the realities of life in the country or in the city, and consequently make mutual understanding difficult, for example, on the concept of solidarity, identity, foreignness or the fear of losing social status. “The case airs arguments that are both ambiguous and dead-ends,” says the artist: “How does a society treat refugees? How is empathy shown and to whom? How can a society close its eyes to those to whom it attributes less importance?

In his video Mario Pfeifer has the incident re-enacted by the two famous actors, Dennenesch Zoudé and Mark Waschke, and using evidence such as witness statements and video footage from the internet, reconstructs different views of the event. In this multi-perspectival way, different opinions and standpoints are compared and contrasted, unequivocal positions avoided. For the roles of audience and citizens’ jury in the re-staged court case, he invited as jurors ten citizens with different migrant experiences to follow the reconstruction of the incident and, at the end, present their personal view of it.

The 9-hour video work Über Angst und Bildung, Enttäuschung und Gerechtigkeit, Protest und Spaltung in Sachsen / Deutschland aesthetically complements Again / Noch einmal with more views on pressing social and political issues. Shot in frontal close-ups, Pfeifer lets nine people answer the same questions about their education and career, their views and anxieties. Without additional commentary, the most varied of people—an entrepreneur, a trade unionist, a journalist, a politician, a citizen, an educational scientist, a conflict researcher and a psychotherapist—put forward their opinions in interviews on the political and social situation in Saxony in 2016. Xenophobia and the challenging of the fundamental liberal-democratic order are major themes in this video. With great clarity and precision, the different people not only explain their views, but also do so against the backdrop of socialisation in the GDR and the social, political and economic turmoil after 1990. Pfeifer films them face-to-face, in an almost unpleasant way, given that the viewer is confronted directly and cannot avoid looking at the respective person. Thanks to sober grey shades, the use of only a few stylistic means and the choice of consistent lighting and image framing, everything in the video is focussed on the person and his or her voice. The result is a compelling, multi-layered and also contradictory presentation of current opinions that does without contextualisation and can definitely also lead to a questioning of one’s own position.

Again / Noch einmal was commissioned by the 10th Berlin Biennale in 2018, co-produced by the Mario Pfeifer Studio together with the broadcaster Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg in collaboration with Arte and KOW; it was subsidised by the Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg and the Kulturstiftung des Freistaates Sachsen. Über Angst und Bildung, Enttäuschung und Gerechtigkeit, Protest und Spaltung in Sachsen / Deutschland was commissioned in 2016 by Kirsa Geiser for Mario Pfeifer’s solo exhibition “Explosion“ at the Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig, and was subsidised by the Kulturstiftung des Freistaates Sachsen. For further information on Again /Noch einmal see www.aboutnow.info and on Über Angst und Bildung see www.ueber-angst-und-bildung.info.

Brief biography Mario Pfeifer (*1981, Dresden) studied at the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst, Leipzig, the Universität der Künste, Berlin, the Städelschule – Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Frankfurt am Main and the California Institute of the Arts, Los Angeles. Pfeifer was a Fulbright and DAAD scholarship holder, and artist-in-residence at the ISCP in New York, the Gasworks in London and the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris.

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