I’ve always firmly believed that the most intense, unblinking love can only be found in longing, but maybe that’s only true for people with over-industrious imaginations. What you desire is so often what you love, but so many of us cease to desire what we already have; the cycle is pitiful, endless. For her latest exhibition What You Desire (exhibition photos, top right) that ran at 21er Raum at 21er Haus, April 16 to June 7, artist Rosa Rendl takes on the state of longing. “These days we seem to be in a state of perpetual longing,” writes the exhibition’s curator, Severin Dünser. “We are constantly faced with seductive worlds of images.”
Exploring this perpetual generation of desire, What You Desire uses ten large-scale photographs, staged to imitate what is referred to as “the pictorial language of social networks”. In this manner, the exhibition pays homage to the intimate relationships we now have with our technology: “It is a given that we spend a significant amount of our time on the internet and even take our computer to bed, which on account of its algorithms, seems to know us better than our closest friends. We touch these devices to use them, scroll through content with our fingers as if stroking them. The boundaries between the physical and virtual world thus seem to blur.”
Capturing moments that depict the dissolve of boundaries between private and public, ‘real’ and ‘virtual’, the snapshots show the close and the incidental: “a smartphone on a bed, a glimpse through a person’s thighs, a still life of a silk flower, a selfie”. Sometimes printed on both sides, the photographs also display a different, less glossy world competing for dominance: cigarettes, blazing flames, hands swiping across screens. “Egocentricity and isolation are held in balance with our longing for closeness. And longing and desire are all that remain…”.**
Exhibition photos, top right.