Felix Contzen - Duck to Concrete
12.02.2016 bis 12.03.2016 / Raum e.V. / Sonderburgstr. 2 • Düsseldorf
Vernissage 12.02.2016, 18-21 Uhr
Finissage 12.03.2016, 14-18 Uhr
Felix Contzen works in the artistic media of photography and video with conventional analogue and innovative digital techniques. His works are created neither intuitively nor coincidentally: Like a researcher, Contzen explores predefined questions with the help of series. Here and there, these may appear at first glance to be absurd, whereby they always contain an existential moment of insight: A cat always lands on its four paws, and a piece of bread with marmalade will – at least according to an assumed law – always lands on the marmalade side. What happens then when a cat with a piece of bread with marmalade attached to its back is pushed off the edge of a table? Can one fatuously breathe new life into dead birds, collected on the side of the motorway near Paris, when one throws them into the air and photographs them while falling back down to the ground? Of course not! In don’t let go, the cadavers move in the air aesthetically and beautifully like silhouettes, but without any sense or meaning whatsoever. The attempt to bring them back to life is doomed to fail. Just like the search for ‘nothing’, which took Contzen around the world from Norway to Africa in 2011 and 2012, is a task that cannot be fulfilled. It is precisely here, however, that the theory that failure – and the experience associated with this – leads to new (artistic) insight takes hold; in this case, it led to a series of photographs of the desert, as well as to a video, in which Felix Contzen buries himself in the sand. The artist’s action is thus an essential part of the final work. These in some cases dangerous, in other cases absurd and humorous actions stand in curious contrast to the aura of aesthetic perfection, which the artist’s photographs by all means exude.
Strokes of lightning, waterfalls, nocturnal photographs of petrol fires, forests, and deserts – the motifs clearly reveal that, in the work of Felix Contzen, man is not propagated as the mighty crown of creation. He is much more interested in the representation of human mortality in the face of overpowering nature. The rare appearance and disappearance of the artist’s own person in his videos – which, in quantitative and qualitative comparison with the impressive images of landscapes, clearly plays a subordinate role – can be understood as a metaphor for this.