Mid-last year in London, Auer’s Babies Are Born At Night constructed the future-dystopian office space of an ‘American psycho’, according to Lindsey Starkweather. This year in Berlin he’s reconstructing hyperreality in the real world across “a plane of colliding dimensions” through angles, shadows, interfaces, liquid camouflage, and perspectives. If this means physically placing an audience into an imagined reality, let’s go there.
Enticingly carpeted in electric blue, Florian Auer turns the Cell Project Space into an open and spacious room for his Babies Are Born At Night exhibition, foreboding a certain calm across which disparate objects find their place. The first of which is a blood red leather punch-bag scarred with slithers of white cotton that pack together symbolically as a meat joint chained devilishly off the ceiling. Its reticence as an ode to slaughter is stark, yet its visceral cynicism as an outlet for a pounding, by a user thick with aggression, is closer to the point.
Auer has a wicked fascination for the world of 1980s investment bankers. Sleek blackboards with dreams of future office desks, machines light up in bright colours, twisted neon lights recall slick cocktail bars and a smart jacket in a work titled ‘Nine to Five’ (2013) bears the dust of chalk wrought from a body-pump on wooden trestles nearby. These are materials that evoke a hedge fund millionaire’s luxurious bachelor pad but also, perhaps, the darker American Psycho headspace of a Bret Easton Ellis novel.
A global elite as a niche counter-culture then. A net of people of the “work hard, play hard” mantra, bearing privilege to a status as the top 1 per cent wealthiest in the world. It’s a reality many see in luxury supplements, aspire to or detest but rarely experience. It’s a state in which a grip on the ‘everyday’ is easily lost by those lost within it but also a world that is forever abstracted to those who have never partaken in it. A lifestyle, in short, purely touched on through media by the majority of people who engage with it.
Auer stands as an intermediary across both sides of the screen. A small blue plastic football waiting to be kicked around acts as a fun counterbalance to a classic white office clock. It sets up a juxtaposition in which curtains produced out of heavy lead appear light and folded effortlessly across room one. Their shapes resemble pieces of burst rubble, once part of a bubble lined with gold, that brings to mind the stop-start story of capitalist economics, in which traders work and everyone experiences.
Our visual recognition as to what is real is taken head on. Powdered chalk creates fake shadow lines that interplay with the infinite grid perspectives reminiscent of Tron movies on Auer’s dark mood boards. Ticker Tape, one of the earliest digital electronic communication mediums used to transmit stock prices, up until the 1970s, bends in and out of an image. Yesterday’s pure data transmission across telegraph line collages against today’s image-heavy mass media. Corporate aesthetics and lifestyle appear to be a mirage; post-internet theory pulled out of the art criticism blogosphere and into the limelight. **