Counter Space, Zurich, CH, 2017
For the first time in the history of Counter Space an artist dedicates the entire exhibition space to one single artwork. Sebastian Utzni‘s newly produced installation M-MAYBE is based on a collection of comics from the 70s to the 90s that seem to anticipate the destruction of the World Trade Center. The fateful attack in 2001 known as 9/11 left an incision in our reality. 9/11 also forced us to reconsider our relation to medially created and disseminated images. The alteration of this dispositive is inscribed into the work M-MAYBE.
The installation that fills the space does not include pictures. The visitor is surrounded by sound instead: The comic’s soundscape has left the printed page and expanded into space.
In order to perceive something, the visitor has to move between several speakers. Childrens’ voices describe scenarios that are fictional and historical at the same time: No super hero was involved in the attack on the World Trade Center. Still you might make you feel like travelling in a time machine – in this spiralling cloud of atoms – when you find yourself confronted with a picture of the destruction of the World Trade Center in 2017, the picture being. You are in 2017 and the picture is from 1976. The publishing date and title of each comic can be found in the works’ taglines.
The voices we hear belong to children born into a world that can no longer be understood without taking into account the effects and consequences of 9/11. Their voices describe a fear that manifested itself in images, a fear from the era before 9/11, when pictures still were material, limited in number and showed their age: before the seemingly eternal shine of the omnipresent screen. Comics from this era stand for childlike fantasy, escapism, the entertainment industries, – and America. Sebastian Utzni makes us look at our image of America in a moment, in which this image is about to change dramatically. The efficacy of anticomplex polarities, confining things to be either black or white, either good or bad, has left the comic page and is expanding into the sphere of control of the super power’s sphere of control.
Sebastian Utzni investigates our cultural predispositions. The carefully researched artefacts that his work incorporates are saturated with a conceptional rigidity – regardless of whether they are comic spreads, molds, or fragments of our collective memory. While media and materials appear to change their aggregational status right in front of our eyes, the intersections of represented power and and its execution seem to become tangible for a split second. Whereas the audio installation at Counter Space focusses on sound, the visual level of M-MAYBE is on display at the gallery Herrmann Germann Contemporary: During the whole exhibition they will show the framed comic spreads, which were the starting point of the audio installation.
The exhibition is completed by a loan from the Annette and Peter Nobel Collection: The collection focusses on Press Art and supplied Sebastian Utzni with a selection of works to serve as a visual footnote to the exhibition. – Mirjam Bayerdörfer