Robert Longo: Everything Falls Apart / Capitain Petzel, Berlin

The exhibition “Everything Falls Apart” is Robert Longo’s second solo show at the gallery Capitain Petzel. Titled after the 1983 Hüsker Dü song by the same name, the exhibition features seven new large charcoal drawings, a new sculptural diptych, a film, and an architectural intervention at the facade of the gallery building.

Robert Longo: Everything Falls Apart. Solo exhibition at Capitain Petzel, Berlin. Opening, September 26, 2018.

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Robert Longo’s second show at Capitain Petzel Everything Falls Apart, titled after the 1983 Hüsker Dü song by the same name, features seven new monumentally scaled charcoal drawings alongside a new sculptural diptych, a film, and an architectural intervention.

Before entering the gallery, viewers are met with an enormous mural composed of hundreds of fragments from the artist’s source archives, that covers the glazed façade of the building. A cacophony of images culled from the Internet, newspapers and TV, the décollage is testament to the brutality of our media-saturated world, as well as its fleeting poignancy.

In the main exhibition space, two massive totems depict this mania. Each monolith is inscribed with a neverending list of words that describe what we are accumulating and losing. Spiraling around the sculptures, phrases such as lost energy, lost time, lost respect, or more empathy, more Bitcoins, more trust reinforce the contradictions and incongruous desires of greed and ubiquitous obsolescence. Surrounding these, seven charcoal drawings “face off” one another.

Each of the new charcoal drawings in Everything Falls Apart specifically points to political, metaphorical, or moral corruption. Topics range from Syrian and Iraqi refugees waiting for processing at a refugee center in Serbia, to global warming, police-fueled riots, and the advent of the “post-truth” era, among other issues. Formally, each drawing has a camouflage–or visual disturbance–making the absorption of its content uneasy and suggests Longo’s heightened awareness of how blind we have become to images. Says Longo: “No matter how many images of pointlessness or destruction we see everyday, we are simply not learning from them. I want my drawings to slow down the way we consume images and the realities they convey.”

Projected across a 10,5 meter long wall in the Lower Exhibition Space, the film Icarus Rising (2018) creates a foil to the architectural intervention that viewers experience before entering the gallery. Longo´s first video piece since the 1990s depicts photographs being torn, slowed to a fraction of its initial speed; the origins of the action become barely perceptible. The imposing scale combined with the intimacy of the viewpoint is the artist’s latest exploration into how to slow down images, to provoke the viewer to consume their full power.

A continuation of Longo’s Destroyer Cycle series, his most politically-charged, visually urgent works to date, initiated in 2014 as the Ferguson riots in Missouri signaled racial tension across the United States and ISIS declared itself a caliphate, Everything Falls Apart reveals the artist’s incisive ability to form a poignant and searing portrait of our time.

For forty years, Longo (*1953) has been a prominent figure in New York’s cultural scene. His artworks, performance pieces, music performances, films, and videos mine iconic images from an expansive cultural visual cache to comment on ideas surrounding image potency, production and circulation. Most recently Longo has been working on Proof, a major exhibition alongside works of Francisco Goya and Sergei Eisenstein—which have long inspired his sociopolitical concerns. This has been presented at Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow; the Brooklyn Museum in New York and Deichtorhallen in Hamburg (2016-18). Previous one-person exhibitions include the Sara Hildén Art Museum, Finland (2017-18), Musée d‘art Moderne et d‘art Contemporain, Nice (2009); Museum Haus Lange und Museum Haus Esters, Krefeld (2002); Albertina, Vienna (2002); Isetan Museum of Art, Tokyo (1995); Los Angeles County Museum of Art (1989); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (1989); and the Menil Collection, Houston (1988), among others. He has also been included in Documenta 7 and 8, the 1983 and 2004 Whitney Biennials, and the 47th Venice Biennale. Robert Longo lives and works in New York and is represented by Metro Pictures, NYC; Galerie Hans Mayer, Düsseldorf; Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, London, Paris, Salzburg; Capitain Petzel, Berlin.

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