Paul Pfeiffer

Paul Pfeiffer

BAIBAKOV art projects

Paul Pfeiffer, Vertical Corridor, 2004.

October 22, 2009

Paul Pfeiffer
Perspective Machine

A Special Project of the 3rd Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art
October 22 – November 22, 2009

Maria Baibakova, Kate Sutton

Red October Chocolate Factory
3rd Floor, Bersenevskaya Naberezhnaya, 6
Moscow, Russia 119072
Е: info [​at​]
Т: +7 499 230 39 30

Hours: Tuesday- Sunday 11.00 – 19.00, Closed Mondays

BAIBAKOV art projects is proud to announce the first solo exhibition of American artist Paul Pfeiffer in Russia. For this site-specific project, the artist will convert the unique space of the former Red October Chocolate Factory into a “Perspective Machine.”

Almost forty years ago, Guy Debord formulated what he called the “Society of the Spectacle,” a world mediated by images, in which one experiences the representation of reality, rather than reality itself. Paul Pfeiffer is part of a new generation of artists examining the mechanics of the contemporary spectacle in an age in which advances in digital technology have reinvented the idea of an “iconic” image. Pfeiffer employs techniques such as zooming and cropping to focus attention on a single detail, in such a way that the larger image becomes almost unrecognizable. His work contrasts scale and modes of spectatorship, preserving the tension between what is revealed and what is obscured.

“Perspective Machine” opens with a work that signals to the visitor that not everything is as it appears. In Vertical Corridor, Pfeiffer encourages the viewer to peer through a tiny peephole in the wall of the gallery, only for them to discover an impossibly massive space behind. This peephole is the only access to this immense space, questioning the validity of the spectacle and reminding the viewer that every such spectacle must bow to the limits of one’s perspective.

In his photographic and video work, Pfeiffer explores the processes of image-making within the context of the entertainment industry. Using found footage from television, film, and sports events, he interferes with the construction of the spectacles they produce. The artist gives his images pseudo-heroic titles, often culled from Judeo-Christian mythology. By suggesting contemporary celebritites as the new saints, he reminds his viewers that sainthood has always been inherently dependent on the power of the image.

Pfeiffer’s earliest works from the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse appropriate photographs of Marilyn Monroe, a figure of enormous fascination and media fixation. In these, the artist digitally excavates all traces of the actress’ body; shifting his attention to her surroundings, he makes the impact of Monroe’s presence – rather than her body – the focus of the work. The photographs are eerily luminous, a portrait of a halo rather than of a saint.

In later works from the same series, Pfeiffer shifts his attention to a different type of saint. Raiding the archives of the NBA (National Basketball Association) the artist erases contextual elements, such as scoreboards and baskets, to isolate individual players in a moment of athletic endeavour. Bodies appear suspended in what is now senseless striving, recalling romantic tales of heroes and martyrs.

In John 3:16, a video work which is also drawn from the archives of the NBA, Pfeiffer presents the events of a basketball game from the perspective of the ball. The ball itself remains fixed in the center of the image, while players’ hands, baskets, and the court flash in and out of view. The video is presented on a miniature wall-mounted monitor designed by the artist. It inspired a second and much larger projection, The Morning after the Deluge, which echoes the compositional arrangement of John 3:16 through its use of a central sphere. This video was created by combining footage of a sunrise and sunset – as the sun sinks in the top frame, it rises in the bottom, so that the “sun” remains complete, as the light around it shifts.

Curated by Maria Baibakova and Kate Sutton, “Perspective Machine” is the fifth exhibition from BAIBAKOV art projects. It is recognized as a Special Project of the Third Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art.

Paul Pfeiffer is represented by Thomas Dane Gallery, London, and carlier|gebauer, Berlin.

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October 22, 2009

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