Tobias Kaspar

Keithstrasse 12
March 2, 2013–April 20, 2013

Tobias Kaspar, Hydra Life, 2013, video, color, 29 minutes.

Tobias Kaspar belongs to a generation of young artists connected to an international network, producing art that accordingly peers out from the border of its discipline to explore the bridges between art, fashion, lifestyle, and the business of travel. In his latest body of work, Kaspar questions the extent of this consumerist infiltration into his practice by examining prevailing marketing strategies of luxury and celebrity industries.

At the core of the exhibition is a soundless, twenty-nine-minute video, Hydra Life, 2013, in which the perfectly stylized aesthetic of advertising collides with the experimental, grainy, and often trance-like quality of films by Andy Warhol. The camera guides our gaze, tirelessly scanning the body of a young woman wearing a terrycloth robe—artist Inka Meissner (known for her roles in films by Loretta Fahrenholz)—who resides in the clean ambiance of a hotel’s white bathroom. We watch as she compulsively applies Hydra Life Crème Sorbet Pro-Jeunesse by Dior to her face and hands over and over again, suggesting that the product that promises eternal youth also symbolizes the current socioeconomic imperative to always appear faultless. But soon her face turns increasingly red as her movements intensify; her face is melancholic, eliminating any doubt as to whether she is enjoying this narcissistic self-reflection. The camera then pans over her unmanicured fingernails and unattractive, old woolen socks, a stark juxtaposition to what could have been the crisp image of a television commercial. Even the display of the film reflects this disparity: The floor-to-ceiling projection is shown in a dim former boiler room beneath the gallery’s main floor.

In the actual gallery space, Kaspar presents an eight-part set of selected video stills, Hydra Life (8 Lobby cards), 2013, mounted on white matte cardstock, as well as the installation CoreHL13, 2013, consisting of two curved Plexiglas objects that act as clear fenders mounted on the wall. In the middle, a carefully trimmed arrangement of vibrant green boxwood leaves sits on the wooden floor, seemingly protected by the invisible barrier that surrounds it. To whom this devout, ceremonial arrangement is dedicated remains unknown. Perhaps it is to commemorate a star yet to come.

Translated from German by Diana Reese.

— Barbara Buchmaier