Critics’ Picks

Andrea Crespo, Anxiety Curve, 2017, cut vinyl, 7 1/2' x 11'.

Andrea Crespo, Anxiety Curve, 2017, cut vinyl, 7 1/2' x 11'.


Andrea Crespo

Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler
Kohlfurter Straße 41/43
September 15–October 14, 2017

It’s out of the Mitte office block and into a Kreuzberg backyard for this gallery, which is inaugurating its new space with works by Andrea Crespo. The artist’s second solo exhibition in Berlin is a character study of Alan, a fictional young autistic male whose interests include World War II, airplanes, and Sonic the Hedgehog. Small, simple graphite drawings wrap the first room in his images of militarized middle America, complete with bullet-riddled road signs and burning planes.

[intensifies], 2016, the hour-long animated video that gives the show its name, takes an intimate dive into Alan’s perspective as he hits puberty, his interior monologue appearing in subtitles over paint-by-numbers tableaux of locations such as a school cafeteria or a therapist’s couch. Professional and amateur opinions on his autism abound—he is suspected to be violent, a school shooter (which he’s considered, but he “just doesn’t have it in him”). Nevertheless, Alan self-identifies as an alien, a computer, “mutated.” “The more I am tested, the more I become aware,” he says. The video can be watched from one of several bright-hued chairs, whose colors are each linked to a particular level of anxiety indicated by the site-specific wall vinyl Anxiety Curve, 2017.

People with autism are often treated as a type, with a lack of empathy that makes them dangerously, inhumanely reliant on the abstract over the personal—the sort of negative stereotypes reflected in the gallery’s much-discussed “Liquid Autist” show in 2013. Crespo, by contrast, insists on taking an emotional, intimate approach to the subject, questioning how otherness is constructed for those living with this much-misunderstood diagnosis.