Critics’ Picks

View of “Orlando Tussaud,” 2019–20.

View of “Orlando Tussaud,” 2019–20.


Agnes Scherer

Haverkampf Leistenschneider
Mommsenstraße 67
October 22, 2019–January 5, 2020

In her solo exhibition “Orlando Tussaud,” Agnes Scherer references the playful shift of historical personae that occurs both in a Virginia Woolf novel and the museum franchise specializing in wax copies of celebrity figures. From the so-called didactic operetta performance work The Teacher, 2019, in which paintings served as the backdrop for a hysterical puppet show, to the sculptural series of guillotined French Revolution–era monarchs exhibited earlier this year at Horse and Pony, Scherer’s work has a conspicuous theatricality running throughout.

In this exhibition, constructed walls obscure paintings of dandy-like figures, viewable only through pinholes puncturing the paper walls. Peering through one, you see All Nighter, 2019, though it eventually becomes apparent that the image of a figure at work on a laptop flanked by purple theater stage curtains is in fact a mirrored reflection of a painting placed directly behind the wall in front of you. The staged obscuring recalls Merlin Carpenter’s paywalled “Heroes” exhibition (one had to pay an Eintritt of five-thousand euros) at MD72 in 2011, or Marcel Duchamp’s tableau Étant donnés. Here, Scherer’s constructed rooms impose on the space’s Naumanesque walkways, formulating a labyrinth through the gallery that eventually leads to the rear office space, where two mannequins depicting the gallerist and artist stand convened in a meeting. Like Madame Tussaud’s waxwork figures, Scherer’s work plays with how the public imaginary is enacted through representation in the media landscape, recalling Walter Lippmann’s quip that stereotypes are a way for us to quiet the dissonance between “the world outside and the pictures inside our heads.”