Critics’ Picks

  • View of “Liftcore,” 2023. Photo: Martin Stollenwerk.

    View of “Liftcore,” 2023. Photo: Martin Stollenwerk.


    Gabriele Garavaglia

    Museum im Bellpark Kriens
    Luzernerstrasse 21
    January 14–April 16, 2023

    Going up or down? The question might evoke eschatological anxiety or simply another day in the office. Gabriele Garavaglia’s “Liftcore” deploys the motif of the elevator to heighten the surreality of the banal, arriving finally at a vertiginous kind of stasis. The Museum im Bellpark, a century-old suburban villa, contains four elevator frontispieces that range from Hell Door, all works 2023, in standard skyscraper steel, to Amnesia, a Cor-Ten dovetailed monstrosity looking straight out of David Fincher’s Alien 3. Each is hung flush so that their categorization as art object or set design lies unsettled in a way that defies the uncanny of someone like Robert Gober. Embedded throughout the walls and ceiling, Dials are steel-encased, logic-programmed screens appearing as floor indicators. Some endlessly ascend, suggesting the numbers of invisible stories; some endlessly descend; and one seemingly settles anywhere it wants. Nowhere in the entire exhibition, which feels at once like twisted reality and a highly produced showroom, is there a button to press. Like IRL, one might wait forever to be spirited away toward something else or for that else to arrive. Garavaglia’s past work inserted subtle, possible but unlikely changes into exhibition spaces and events, e.g., black-irised visitors at an opening and a snake hanging out in a restroom. These glitches accentuated societies’ latent structures and fears. The artist’s impossibilities here stoke anxieties and ambitions of class while contorting the transportive promise of auratic masterpieces museums typically display. If only the actualities of mobility were so attractive, or unreal.