Michael Etzensperger


March 10 – April 28 2019

Photographic reproductions play a key role as source material for Michael Etzensperger (b. 1982, lives and works in Zurich). After mainly working with reproductions taken from art historic or ethnological encyclopedias, he recently shifted to examining public urban space and the commercially driven motives that activate, illuminate and hold presence in it. For his new series Abglanz (reflection) (2019), Etzensperger photographs advertising billboards and the models that inhabit them in Zurich's main shopping street, the Bahnhofstrasse. Shot at night with a telephoto lense, and often through shop windows, the artist explicitly accepts the resulting coincidental beams of neon light, distorted reflections and the supposed technical malfunctions of his camera. Alongside this new series, Etzensperger shows three new video works at Kunsthalle: the source material of Resister (2019) was found when the artist was working with a laser trimmer – a device to calibrate electrical resistors – and shows flickering black and white footage taken from the control screen. It is arranged into three video tracks, each interspersed with short clips of domestic insects crawling over LED screens, advertising photography and the three basic colours of the additive colour mixing of red, green and blue. Rotated by 90 degrees and arranged into a widescreen format, the resulting video is a nervous matrix that dominates the main hall of the galleries. Two additional videos in the exhibit take the visitor into a dizzy parallel world, mainly by way of sound: several ornamental fish are shown obliviously swimming, reflecting themselves inside an aquarium to the sound of emphatic melodies. Electronic plucking noises are combined with an image of a spider bravely spinning a web in an utterly inhospitable corner in front of a flickering lamp. The acoustic fine-tuning is set off with the RGB inspired lighting for the two exhibition halls. This omnipresent partition found in all film and photography sets the tone, mood and colour of the exhibition with red, green and blue. Etzensperger here takes the usually concealed partitioning of digital media and instead uses it to set the scene in a self-aware gesture of presentation.

Oliver Kielmayer