Critics’ Picks

Werner Reiterer, The Life-Song, 2007, pencil on paper, 27 1/2 x 20 5/8".

Werner Reiterer, The Life-Song, 2007, pencil on paper, 27 1/2 x 20 5/8".


Werner Reiterer

Contemporary Art Museum, University of South Florida
4202 East Fowler Avenue CAM 101
January 9–March 7, 2009

On entering Werner Reiterer’s exhibition “Raw Loop,” viewers quickly discover themselves amid an interactive sculptural field seemingly driven by a dark presence. Evoking the early video works of Vito Acconci, Come Closer to Leave, 2008, comprises a stack of public-address speakers that, once approached, broadcasts the voice of the artist speaking a seductive monologue: “Hi . . . come closer . . . don’t be scared . . . ” But as viewers do come closer, the sound track abruptly shifts to a profane rant that includes “Go away, leave me alone, suck my . . . ” among other insults, with their expletives bleeped for the US version of the piece. Also triggered by motion sensors, Raw Loop, 2008, presents a disturbingly realistic life-size human figure sitting slouched against the wall with a cloth bag over its head. As viewers near the work, the sculpture begins to emit a wheezing sound track, and the bag inflates and deflates with every breath. Life Counts Death, 2008, is a large, minimalist cube with a bass-drum pedal attached that, when stepped on, chimes the sound of a church bell. Adjacent to this work, a drawing of the sculpture, titled The Life-Song, 2007, includes text that explains: EVERY “GONG” MARKS THE BIRTH AND DEATH OF TWO MEN. Other drawings on view from Reiterer’s series “The Drawn Exhibitions,” 1997–2008, evoke the artist’s poignantly loopy universe and serve as a form of narration. In Waiting for Nihilism, 2004, a wooden stage is depicted on which footprints lead in a circle, each labeled TACK, TOCK, TACK, TOCK––aptly reflecting the comically bleak tenor of the exhibition.