A dirty look into our brains
Profound art by Warren Neidich at Prisky Pasquer Gallery
by Thomas Linden

They call it a ‘Trump Cup’. It’s a coffee mug, the rim of which we’re invited to touch. Like any other mug, it is perfectly circular. However, if look at it from where we stand (that is, trough a glass panel installed above the object), the mug’s rim appears to be oval. Which are we to trust, thus, our hand or our eyes? With the object described above, Warren Neidich finds a pithy allegory for the today’s phenomenon of ‘fake news’.

On view at Prisky Pasquer gallery there is yet another composition which elaborates on the same problem more explicitly. “Pizzagate” is the title of a spherical accumulation of words and arrows crafted in colourful neon tubes. This could be a representation of the brain, just as well as it could be a materialization of a digital cloud.

“Pizzagate” refers to a smear campaign, which damaged Hilary Clinton’s image decisively during the 2016 US presidential campaign. Trump’s campaign team claimed that a paedophile ring operated out the basement of a pizza parlour in which Clinton liked to dine. Agitated by the news, an armed man finally broke into the restaurant and started shooting around wildly. As it turned out, though, there weren’t any paedophiles, nor did the pizza parlour have a basement.

Warren Neidich, professor at art academies in the US and in Berlin, is a trained neurologist and advocates a theory, according to which fake news enter into and leave traces in our brains – even if we know them to be absurd and made up. Neidich’s latest exhibition in Cologne is titled “Neuromacht”.

The artist believes our thoughts to have the power to change – that is, if we are ready to explore terrains outside our habitual streams of consciousness, which is where our potentials for creativity reside. To connect information in unexpected ways means to think against the grain of dominant consumption oriented thought patterns.

The 60-year-old artist provides concrete examples in his work “Noise and the Possibility of a Future”, which is also the subtitle of his show. He smashes loud speakers, puts their pieces back together, and accompanies his newly collaged sculptures with the soundscapes of their destruction. In this way, he liberates the object from its common use and allows it to become something new.

And there is a good sense of humour, too, in each and every one of Neidich’s installations. The artist’s “Wrong Rainbow Paintings” are colour circles, the black centres of which resemble the iris of a human eye. The artist has also taken an interest in the rainbows depicted in historical landscape paintings – their colour scales being oddly unrealistic. As we watch Warren Neidich extract the colours of a Caspar David Friedrich rainbow, we may ask ourselves why the ‘wrong’ representation manages to capture our emotional truth much more accurately than any cold realism ever could. Prices between 25.000 and 120.000 Euro.

Open until August 30, 2018. Hours: Tue-Fri, 11 am – 6 pm, Sat 11 am – 4 pm. Albertusstr. 18, Cologne. Phone: +49 221 95 26 313.
Translation: Katharina Weinstock