Ariel Schlesinger

Ariel Schlesinger

Work from his oeuvre.

“For L’Angoisse de la page blanche (The Anguish of the White Page, 2007), two sheets of standard-size copy paper are pressed up against each other as they spin in circles on a low table. A homemade arcade game, Untitled (Football Players) (1999) is poetic play with fear and dread, child-like toying with the idea of death: when the viewer-player pushes down on two metal levers covered in duct tape, a high voltage transformer sends buzzing charges up and down the bodies of two metal footballers. The game’s apparently haphazard construction disguises a deliberate design, which is calculated down to details such as the decorative quality of plywood panels at its base and a strip of packing tape around two edges of its Plexiglass case. This is also the case in Untitled (Burned Turkmenistan Carpet III and IV) (2008), for which the seemingly casual act of burning two rolled-up oriental carpets creates a series of long, repeated lacerations that play off of the detailed geometric designs in the carpets’ intricate weaving.

As art historian Rudi Fuchs writes in the note to his lecture ‘Conflicts with Modernism or The Absence of Schwitters’,1 ‘in the end, art-making is a process of magic.’ Schlesinger calls attention to the magic nature of the artwork but purposefully reveals all of the secrets to his tricks. Two white wires taped to the gallery floor lead from a low platform, where Forever Young is displayed, to a wall socket, giving away the fact that the glowing ash is actually the end of an optic fiber. The two white pages of L’Angoisse de la page blanche perform their courtly dance on a table whose legs are fashioned from tip-less spray cans. The battered cans draw attention to the table’s underside where a small motor is revealed as the dynamo driving the paper’s animation. The flaps at the bottom of the cardboard box in Zu Erinnern und Zu Vergesse (The commemorable and the forgettable, 2008) are not tightly closed but leave gaps from which water should be leak, but oddly it doesn’t. This small detail provides a clue that inveigles its way into the mind of the attentive observer and betrays the illusion: the box’s bottom is not saturated but coated with water-resistant wax.

As phenomenologist Francois Cheng explains in Five Meditations on Beauty (2006), the beautiful is never a static way of being, ‘given once for always’ for ‘its ability to captivate lies in its revealing itself […] in its emergence.’2 In Schlesinger’s oeuvre, trauma and disaster are the spells that call objects forth from their quotidian hiding into the realm of the artist’s sorcery, a magic of constant revelation.” – Emily Verla Bovino for Frieze Magazine

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