CORVI-MORA

Abel Auer

New Symbols

03.11.17 - 21.12.17

“The show New Symbols at Corvi-Mora is somehow the sequel to the Rising Sun show which was part of Reading international so there are still the ghosts of the 19th century bohème dancing (see Reading text below) this time to music from the subculture of my home town. I have a lot of younger friends around me because I live in a place where reasonable people move away when they grow up. Quite many of them who play music and study art end up playing music. Something makes art unattractive these days…

Art groups were essential for new movements and the "progress" of the arts. In an art system where the reception is structured through curators and galleries this essential platform is pushed on the sidelines, the curated artist is often encouraged towards a subject, artists start to work about something, in the art world including the discourse art needs a purpose, but:

"Really beautiful is only what serves no purpose; everything useful is ugly, for it is an expression of a need, and the needs of man are disgusting and repulsive as his poor and decaying nature. The most useful place of a house are the latrines."

This is a quote from the preface of Théophile Gautier's novel Mademoiselle de Maupin that preface where the idea l'art pour l’art originates from. When I asked art students in Germany if they have ever heard about this book or the preface they shake their heads but it’s such a contemporary book due, firstly, to the almost postmodern-looking mixed form of letters, reflections and flashbacks and the play with reality, imagination and ideal, and secondly to the program of total emancipation, which even dreams of overthrowing the natural boundaries of the sexes: sounds familiar right?

I feel like I am in living in overlapping timelines...

I hardly talk to people anymore, instead I am reading the journals of the Goncourt brothers. There is this strange connection between Ubu Roi and South Park. The Trump presidency is a cruel real live performance of Ubu Roi and in last years season of South Park, the teacher, Mr. Garrison played the Trumpish presidential candidate and the Ubu Roi play was written by schoolkids about their grotesque teacher. Like Trump, like Mr. Garrison an authoritarian buffoon...or when you read Villiers de L’Isle-Adam’s L'Ève future and you watch a recent documentary about creepy engineers building sex robots, it is very much the same.

Symbolism 2.0...

Excerpt from the Reading text:

I realised people still continue to think in 20th century logic, still dwelling in failed ideas but something broke so dramatically that everyone just denied it. Modernity is a closed book now. We live in a science fiction novel, it feels so unreal...
Maybe in retrospect, other stories in the canon of modernity seem to be more relevant than we thought whilst we were writing them...In search of a place, I ended up where they played these early films: the 19th century, fin de siecle…Back then they saw the rise of the industrial sun. We see its dusk...
Being here in a house built in 1877, Symbolism makes so much sense to me in a mirrored upside-down-ish kind. Decadence and anarchy seem to me more contemporary than certain 20th century ideas. From that perspective I can say: the avant-garde was an interesting trip, but we ended up on a dead end road, and if I look back at it, the music of Harry Partch echoes better into the future than that of John Cage.
I am not alone in this. There is a sensational German rapper called Rin, an androgyne manifestation channeling ideals of beauty we know from late Romanticism (his lips look like those painted by a Pre-Raphaelite). He is all about beauty and feelings. When I watch his music videos I feel like Basil Hallward seeing Dorian Gray for the fist time...

When the ugly reigns, beauty becomes a subversive force…

For the original version of the play Ubu Roi, a stage painting was made by Toulouse Lautrec and Pierre Bonnard (and some others). It is lost and no image of it exists, we are left with a reproduction based on description. If the devil offered me a deal that I could see the original, but all Dadaist and Surrealist images would be erased from my brain, I would take it…

My idea of painting and art relates to this performance and after Beuys enhanced the definition of fine arts - I enhance the definition of painting to another genre, performing arts!"

- Abel Auer, 2017