Critics’ Picks

Oliver Ressler, The Visible and the Invisible, 2014, color, sound, 40 minutes.


Oliver Ressler

Lentos Kunstmuseum Linz
Ernst-Koref-Promenade 1
October 3, 2014–February 1, 2015

Resistance, civil disobedience, and protest are at the center of Oliver Ressler’s exhibition “The Plundering.” In his sober forty-minute 2013 film of the same title, it soon becomes clear that Ressler is not an outside observer but rather someone who seeks to generate resistance through his artistic practice. He is not only aware of diverse forms of protest but is a deeply involved participant in the culture of civil disobedience.

The exhibition includes films such as The Visible and the Invisible, 2014, a visual essay on the headquarters of raw-materials enterprises, and Leave It in the Ground, 2013, a plea for environmental protection. But We Have a Situation Here, 2011, counts among the high points of the exhibition: a series of photographs depicting male bodies, dressed in business suits, piled in a heap. In their corporate apparel, the men on the ground easily read as directors of banks and conglomerates. Their bodies look like discarded scraps of a system just before its collapse: heads, legs, arms in a jumble. The custodians of power are apparently no longer necessary, they have been replaced by newer players: neutralized by better managers and thrown away.

On a compositional level, the tableau—with its cluster of human bodies positioned in aesthetically excessive, artificial poses—has its origins in Renaissance painting, which is not only heavily instrumentalized in the construction of power but is also an era we now reference to interpret the present, as well as an era we interpret by consulting the present . But Ressler is also thoroughly engaged in the immediate here and now—and as such, he is an artist and activist with a promising future.