Prologue, Last days of February, 2019
Installation view: “Anatomy of political Melancholy”, Athens Conservatoire, Athens, Greece, 2019
Ηis large-scale, site-specific wall drawing installation, Prologue, Last days of February 2019, Athens and the set of drawings on paper he presents in the exhibition capture the current political and psychological zeitgeist: between anxiety, resignation and incomprehension, through allusion and suggestion rather than a linear narrative.
The wall drawing is based on an iconic film still from the seminal movie Metropolis (1927), by Fritz Lang. It shows an anonymous group of workers going to work, signaling their submission to the power of industrialization, at the end of the 1920s. Today we read the image differently, as the symbol of oppression and victimization in the great tragedies of the 20th century; but here also, in the current context, as the anonymous “99%”.
This re-use of images from the past - culled from a specific context, and projected into the present – is a recurrent process in Marc Bauer’s work. It is both a reactivation of the image itself, but also an exercise on how images are read in and through history, and how the present circumstances shapes our understanding of them.
The set of drawings in Prologue, Last days of February 2019, Athens unfold as a fragmented narrative. The drawings are often blurry and partially erased; they are mental images, memories, fleeting sensations. The display format also adopts cinematic editing effects, requiring spectators to piece together the disjointed narrative in their own minds. Exactly how they fill in these gaps uncovers the ‘instincts’ of their collective memory. The elderly man in the hospital bed illustrates the text, quoting the last sentence of the book The order of things (1994), by Michel Foucault: “… that man would be erased, like a face drawn in sand at the edge of the sea.” The ‘order of things’ in this case is dark, ominous and brooding – an ‘order’ that could be read as a metaphor for the situation in Europe right now; a situation wherein dark clouds seem to be gathering around the continent; a gloomy atmosphere also which emanates from the heart of Bauer’s practice.