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Schinkel Pavillon


Curated by Lars Laumann


The pieces Norwegian artist Lars Laumann selected to show at the Schinkel Pavillon were all linked to Pushwagner’s pictorial novel Soft City (1969–75), arguably his key work and one that largely acts as a basis for much of his production since. Soft City – shown as part of the 5th Berlin Biennale at KW Institute for Contemporary Art – gives the daily account of a family living a mechanical life in a dehumanized, dystopian city. These apocalyptic undertones are equally apparent in the paintings of his Apocalypse series made in the 1980s and 1990s which were on view at the Schinkel Pavillon. There Pushwagner’s dark vision is transferred to a larger scale, literally and metaphorically: as if looking through a magnifying glass at different aspects of this mechanized world, the viewers become entangled in a nightmare. In such works as Dadadata (1995) numerous standardized “human robots” seated at switching points control the enormous crane jibs employed in the mass production of missiles. Every part of the production process is painted with meticulous detail, rendering it possible to observe thousands of missiles delivered on endless conveyor belts—the Fordist invention in the service of mass destruction. Other paintings of the same series, such as Jobkill (1986) depict the destination of humanity as a dead end—with as much critical bite as the artist’s earlier work.

For this compact solo presentation of five of Pushwagner’s paintings in the Schinkel Pavillon, Lars Laumann envisioned a massive black wall bisecting the octagonal space from floor to ceiling, breaking the lines of the neo-classical interior and employing its GDR-modernist details so that they almost seemed to become elements in a bizarre sci-fi stage set – a control center with Pushwagner’s paintings as windows to other worlds.