Cinémathèque Robert-Lynen, Paris
Tuesday, March 10th, 2015
Peter Wächtler, Untitled, 2013. HD video, 14'. Courtesy of the artist & the gallery Dependance, Brussels
The work of Peter Wächtler is prolific and protean: films, texts, ceramics, sculpture, sound pieces, charcoal drawings, watercolors. It embraces with darkness and humor what the human comedy bears in itself of tragic and repetition. The artist is fascinated by narrative codes, the way you tell a story. Here he tackles the machinery of the Hollywood industry : its used narrative principles and its strategy to embark us on extraordinary stories. But here, nothing extraordinary that the very ordinary! Misery on a long distance.
We thus find an old trick: the voice over that evokes memories. The animated character who sings and shows his beautiful voice to better capture the viewer, its prey. Here, the voice over is strangely laconic and has a strong German accent (the artist's voice); the rat sings a blues by Bruce Springsteen (The River, 1981) a hopeless and sad song... "we'd go down to the river and into the river we'd dive"
Misery on a long distance. Numbing pain. Dazed solitude. Daily rehashed facts of a an everyday without light. Milky and empty dawn, dark night as a closed shutter, which keep coming back. Mud that sticks to crutches. Abyssal and mechanical repeated gestures. Sisyphus and his rock!
Peter Wächtler's animated films characters are like anti-heroes at the edge of the world, whispering, shouting their lives painfully, snatches of life, more or less in order, feet in the mud, "comment c'était ? comment c'est ?" (how was it? how is it?) wrote Samuel Beckett in 1961; like these depressive, alcoholic heroes, tired of being there without even existing, aphasic and paralyzed, these heroes of absurd comedy, endless, tragicomic like those of Brecht and Beckett. These animated characters are actually "désanimés," abandoned; the opposite of those of Walt Disney—distant cousins of America and joyful to which they refer, they are receding from us, as and as the tragic framework builds chugging along: no identification, no incarnation but detachment! These animated characters are loosing life before our eyes, to the point of being no more than wire skeleton, a shadow of themselves.
Born in 1979 in Hanover, Peter Wächtler lives and works in Brussels and Berlin. He is represented by Dependance (Brussels) and Reena Spaulings (New York). In 2014, a collection of his texts, Come On, was published by Sternberg Press. He is preparing a solo exhibition at the Renaissance Society in Chicago in 2015, after presenting his work at the Westfälischer Kunstverein in Münster in 2014. He took part in the Liverpool Biennial (2014) and the Lyon Biennale (2013).